Patria (@PatriaTO) is a wonderful addition to Charles Khabouth’s club and restaurant empire which includes Uniun nightclub, Weslodge and La Société to name a few. When this Spanish tapas restaurant first opened up last fall, I was a little skeptical given that he spends so much on the design and décor of the spaces that you’d think it’s all just for show without any substance. But the restaurant generated so much positive buzz that I had to drop by to see for myself.
The restaurant, located on King just west of Spadina is rather hidden. If you’re walking on the north side of King, you’ll see Weslodge’s giant yellow doors. There’s a small roadway/alleyway next to it where you’ll see an iron gate. Walk down the roadway and you’ll find Patria.
As I mentioned, all of Khabouth’s venues are gorgeous and Patria is no exception. The large dining room features high ceilings with a second-floor loft which looks like it’s reserved for private dining.
Patria’s extensive menu consists of Spanish tapas with a modern spin. The menu is broken down into “small plates”, cheese, “to share”, meat & rice and their daily specials. Given how large their menu is, I recommend coming with a group of people. I came in a group of 6 and felt as though we had only made a small dent in the menu.
Our group started off with a jug of White Sangria – white wine, lillet, mixed apple cider & poached apple and a lemongrass reduction ($12 glass/$33 jug) and a jug of Red Sangria – red wine, port, sweet vermouth, spiced poached pear reduction, cloves, orange juice & pear nectar, rich ruby red fruits with heavy spice and citrus notes ($12 glass/$33 jug).
While I enjoyed them both, the winner for me was the white sangria. I loved its apple flavours and found that the sangria had just the right amount of sweetness.
The first dish to arrive was the Croquetas de Manchego – leek & manchego croquettes with aioli ($8) which consisted of three small croquettes. Did I mention that Patria is on the pricey side? It is on King West, after all.
The croquettes had a crisp exterior which wasn’t the least bit greasy, and a gooey, cheesy middle. I didn’t get very much of the leek flavour but to be honest, they tasted great anyway, especially with the creamy aioli.
Up next was the Selección de Embutidos – Ibérico Lomo, Ibérico Salchichon, Jamon Serrano & Morcon Salami ($16), a delicious selection of meats.
I don’t often order salads but the Ensalada de Aguacate con Queso de Cabra y Membrillo – butter lettuce, avocado, goat cheese, quince dressing & Macarona almonds ($13) caught my eye. This was definitely one of the lighter dishes we ordered for the evening. The cool, creamy avocado and goat cheese was nicely balanced by the crunch from the almonds and slightly tart quince dressing. It was a very well-composed salad.
One comment about the goat cheese though – its flavour is quite strong and has a mild blue cheese taste to it. So, those of you who don’t feel too positively about blue cheese should probably stay away.
You can’t come to Patria without ordering the Dátiles con Tocino Ibérico – dates, Ibérico bacon, manchego & guindillas ($9). One order comes with five little bite-sized bacon-wrapped dates. They really are the perfect sweet and savoury combination and Patria nailed it. Bet you can’t eat just one!
Up next was the Garbanzos con Espinacas – chickpea spinach stew & migas ($8). Presentation-wise, it resembled baby food. But I don’t blame them, it’s hard to make a chickpea and spinach stew NOT look like baby food.
In addition to the chickpeas and spinach, the dish contained breadcrumbs which were very much necessary to give the dish a bit of texture. I’ll be honest, I’m not the biggest chickpea fan so I can’t say I loved the dish but everyone at the table loved it.
From the list of daily specials, we ordered the Pulpo a Gallega – Spanish octopus, potato, paprika & olive oil ($16). I’ve heard a lot of people talk about this dish so it seems like more of a mainstay than a daily special.
It’s a very delicate looking dish with bite-sized pieces of perfectly charred octopus sitting on top of coin-sized fried potatoes. I loved the flavour of the paprika and the smokiness of the sauce. It was one of my favourite dishes of the evening and a must-order for octopus fans.
The next dish was the Patatas Bravas con Huevos Fritos – Crispy potato, spicy tomato & a fried egg ($9) which was presented to us with the fried egg still in tact. Our server proceeded to break apart the egg and mix the dish together at our table.
The cubes of potato were crisp and reminiscent of home fries and even with the spicy tomato sauce topping them, they remained crispy. The runny yolk helped bind together all the components of the dish and the combination of the ingredients made it seem very breakfast-y. But who am I to talk? I’ve been known to eat a bowl of cereal for dinner…
Another one of my favourite dishes of the evening was the Secreto Ibérico con Pimientos de Piquillo y Mermelada – Ibérico pork flank & piquillo pepper jam ($29). Pork flank may not sound very exciting but you’ll regret not ordering it.
The pork flank, which came sliced up, was incredibly tender and each small bite I took had so much flavour packed into it. The meat was accompanied by a sweet and spicy piquillo pepper jam which really made it the perfect dish. I kid you not, my mouth is watering just looking back at these pictures.
Up next was the Pimientos Rellenos de Buey – piquillo peppers, oxtail & manchego ($13) which consisted of two small stuffed peppers. Given how small they were, it wasn’t the easiest to share amongst six people but we all managed to grab a small bite. Like all the other dishes here, I’m amazed at how much flavour they can pack into one small morsel of food. The tender, braised meat was delicious and very rich so perhaps a small bite per person was enough.
For some more meat, we ordered the Costillas de Cordero Encebolladas – lamb chops, caramelized onions, olives & romesco sauce ($21). It came with two tender lamb chops which were nicely cooked and the meat easily slid off the bone. I enjoyed the sweetness from the caramelized onions and the nutty and garlicky romesco sauce paired nicely with the lamb.
If you come to Patria with a group of four or more, you should consider ordering one of their paellas. They take 45 minutes to cook in order to allow the rice to settle and the flavours to blend together, so it will come near the end of your meal. They offer three paella options – the “Carne Mixta” with confit duck legs, pork ribs and chorizo, a vegetarian option with morels, artichokes and peppers, and the Paella Patria – langoustine, shrimp, mussels, cuttlefish, monkfish, snap peas & saffron ($48) which we went with.
Is this a beauty or what? I’ll admit, it’s pretty pricey but it was quite the experience and we all enjoyed it, so we had no regrets. After our server brought us the paella, he helped portion it out amongst the six of us. Make sure you get some of the crunchy rice bits at the bottom of the pan – they’re the best part! The rice was cooked well and I was pleased that you could really taste the flavours of the seafood in the rice. Highly recommended for groups!
The paella was our last savoury dish to arrive. Surprisingly, we still had a little bit of room for dessert and decided on three to share. First up was the Churros con Dulce de Leche – Spanish doughnuts, cinnamon sugar & dulce de leche ($6).
While we enjoyed the dulce de leche, we all agreed that the churros weren’t great. They seemed to be fried for a little too long and as a result were incredibly hard and crunchy. Perhaps it was because they were too thin? We would’ve preferred them a little softer and fluffier in the center.
Our next dessert, the Helado de Café con Crema des Especias y Mermelada de Aceitunas Negras – coffee ice cream, black olive marmalade, spiced cream & nut wafer ($7) fared much better. It consisted of layers of crunchy nut wafers sandwiching coffee ice cream. The nut wafer gave it a nice crunch and the ice cream had a really nice coffee flavour. I didn’t really taste much of the black olive marmalade but the dessert still tasted great. Just make sure you eat it fast as the ice cream melts really fast!
The last dessert we ordered was the Leche Frita con Helado de Azafran – fried milk, saffron ice cream & honey ($7). I really enjoyed the flavour of these fried milk cubes which were reminiscent of a panna cotta…but fried. The saffron ice cream had a mild flavour which complimented the fried milk perfectly. A tasty end to the meal!
Overall, we had an amazing dinner at Patria and I’d highly recommend it to those looking dine in King West with a group of people. Their tapas dishes are top-notch and will definitely leave you wanting more.
At a glance:
• A modern spin on traditional Spanish cuisine
• Extensive menu of tapas so I recommend coming with a group of 4 or more
• Part of the Charles Khabouth empire (Weslodge, La Société, Uniun nightclub, etc)
• Gorgeous venue on King West (just west of Spadina) with space for private dining and a patio outside
• Highlights: white sangria, bacon-covered dates, Spanish octopus, Ibérico pork flank
• If you’re with a group of 4 or more, try one of their paellas
Ratings (out of 5):
• Food: 4.5 stars
• Service: 4 stars
• Atmosphere: 4 stars