Posted on January 13, 2013


The thing about having the pleasure of having a Catalan for a best friend was that I was very much pampered with food when I visit Barcelona.  Throughout my stay, I would indulge on food where the locals go.  When I go home, what I feel bordered on homesickness, wanting to recreate the memories of a good vacation.  Countless times, I searched for these flavors of Barcelona and I find most of the Spanish restaurants in Toronto chose to highlight the cuisine of Western Spain.  When Patria came into Toronto’s dining scene, after seeing their feature dishes, they piqued my interest when I saw my favorite Catalan indulgence, Fideos Negros.  Noodles sauteed with squid ink always whet my appetite.   I bade my time getting to Patria as I was seeing that the restaurant was immensely popular with Toronto foodies.   I thought it was prudent to let time pass.  By  the way the reviews went, it seemed like Patria would be prominent for a long while.

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I finally made it to Patria last Friday.  Accompanied by my friend Diona, I planned on indulging on tapas and Fideos Negro to cure my homesickness for Barcelona.  We almost missed the restaurant as it was well a few steps from King St. West.  As we walked in too early for dining, there were just a few patrons.  The restaurant felt grand, adorned with massive paintings and a tapas bar with an impressive tall feature wall lined with what I guess to be bottles of cava and Spanish wines.  The restaurant had an old world feel, reminiscent of the restaurants I have dined in back in Barcelona with its choice of tones, accessories, tables and seating.

As we were prudent enough to make a reservation,  we were led closer to the hot kitchen.  It gave a welcoming warmth, adorned with terracotta dishes and serving trays.  As we were seated, despite knowing what I wanted to try, I gave the menu a quick scan.  My heart skipped a beat when I did not see Fideos Negro on it.  Checking with our server, I was told that it was removed just a week ago and that was truly disappointing.  Recognizing that it was a lost cause to have a long face through the night, I opted for another dish with fideos, Fideos Con Almejas Y Chorizo (Fideos with clams and chorizo).  To that, we also added Ensalada De Alcachofas Con Queso Manchego (salad with crispy artichokes) and a raciones of Croquetas de Jamon.

The croquetas arrived first and it was just as I remembered.  Crusty and appropriately creamy, balanced with good hints of saltiness coming from the jamon bits folded into the mix.  The salad came with a sherry vinaigrette and did the job of cleansing the palate.  The fideos I have tried before were always seafood base and to try it with chorizo was new.  Despite the obvious good quality of the chorizo, I think I would still opt for the all-seafood kind if given the choice (please oh please bring Fideos Negros back).  What can I say?  My best friend really brainwashed me to have a Catalonian palette :).

For dessert, we asked our server Yuri to surprise us with a coffee concoction and to go with the coffee, we opted for Churros Con Dulce de Leche and Leche Frita Con Helado de Azafran (Fried Milk, Honey and Saffron Ice Cream).  He came back with two glasses of what seemingly looked like a latte with a generous froth of milk on top.  Very good coffee I must say.  To that he flourished two house-baked shortbread cookies to tide us over as they prepped our desserts.  As the desserts came, I must say, I loved the way the plated the Saffron Ice Cream.  It was like one of those dishes I want to keep on shooting to my heart’s content.  Mindful this dessert could melt, I refrained from doing it too long and tried the dessert.  It sure do pacify a sweet tooth’s requirements.  It was interesting to note the warmth and texture of the fried milk and how much it contrasted with the cold and smooth creaminess of the ice cream.  The churros was freshly fried and warm when served on top of dulce de leche.   If I have to choose between the two desserts I think I’d go for the Leche Frita Con Helado Azafran.  Not only was it aesthetically elegant, it also was a good sweet finish to a good meal.

Despite missing out on the dish I came to Patria for, I must say they did cure my pangs of homesickness for Barcelona food.  I just have to cross my fingers that the owners bring back Fideos Negros.  If and when they do, this time I’ll be two times wiser.  I’ll be the first in line to indulge in Patria’s food.  Thank you once again for the very good food and amazing service. :)

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