Review: Patria, King West’s clubby new Spanish restaurant
This clubby restaurant is the second King West collaboration of Hanif Harji and Charles Khabouth, veterans of the city’s dining and nightlife industries who are also behind Weslodge, the neighbouring socialite hothouse. They’ve gone the distance to make Patria authentically Spanish, importing ingredients like jamón ibérico de bellota—the flavourfully fatty cured ham from black pigs that roam the forest feeding on acorns ($30 as an appetizer). The dark, moody room is decorated in an ersatz Latin chic, with vaguely religious portraits of a cloaked woman, a two-storey embroidered wall covering and chandeliers that look like torture devices from the Spanish Inquisition. The bumbling complement of servers, dressed like the partying clientele in deep-V Ts and tight jeans, unintentionally enact an Almódovar comedy, clattering cutlery and banging into one another as they race between tables. The kitchen is on more solid footing, sending out an ambitious range of plates (tapas as well as full-on mains) that far exceed what typically passes for Spanish food in Toronto. A short-cut pasta called fideos is cooked in a spicy tomato broth—like the love child of angel hair pasta and paella—and tossed with a surfeit of clams and deep red chorizo coins. An extra dab of lemony aïoli shoots it up the complexity scale. Secreto, the flank steak of an ibérico pig, already succulent and delicious on its own, comes smeared with a sweet-spicy piquillo pepper jam. For dessert, airy, sugary churros and a thick pool of dulce de leche.