First impression: playing with the cheap and weird centerpiece
Somewhat impressive bread plate
Carrot velute with chive oil
Olive oil black cod confit with baby bok choy, ramps, razor clams and parsley emulsion
Green garden risotto with ramps, English pea, zucchini and parmigiano reggiano
Complimentary dessert cookies and candies
Carved out in the side of the Disney Concert Hall sits the high end restaurant Patina. Serving fine French cuisine, this restaurant has more pomp and circumstance than an Ivy League graduation. Its too bad that I don’t have good things to say about this restaurant as I was treated (not by the restaurant) to this meal but I just hope that this review can prevent other unknown diners from making the same mistake we did.
It was a cold and windy Saturday night downtown. I wish I could say that the area was booming with hipsters who have migrated to the gentrified area but outside of the confines of the MOCA opening, there wasn’t much besides the lonely valet attendant. It was getting late and my entire group was hungry. Patina was decided upon because it was close and a couple in the group had previously eaten there had a pleasantly memorable dining experience.
It started out fine and dandy. The maitre’d was friendly as he sat us on the terrace and ensured us that the kitchen would stay open late to accommodate our grumbling bellies. We were then greeted by another waiter who placed crisp white napkins on our laps. It was when I finally looked up from the menu to the table in front me that I noticed something was amiss. In the center of the table were cheap centerpieces surrounded by plastic dinnerware. In contrast with the exorbitant menu prices I was quickly alerted to the reality that this dinner might not be everything I hoped.
A waiter brought around a tray of three varieties of bread to choose from, a French baguette, a dinner roll and an olive ciabatta. I had the olive ciabatta. After which we were presented with an amuse bouche to invigorate our palates. The amuse was a carrot velute and tasted like a sweet carrot from a home garden, caramelized, blended and served as a soup. Garnishing the dish was a chive oil that added a salty bite to the sweet soup. Not technically an amuse by Top Chef standards since I couldn’t eat the entire thing in one bite but it was warm and tasty nonetheless. Looking back I think the amuse invigorated my palate with its bold flavors a little too much because immediately following the soup, began the downhill descent.
For the main course my friend Amanda and I decided to split the Olive oil black cod confit and Green garden risotto. The Olive oil black cod confit was served with baby bok choy, ramps (wild leeks), razor clams, and a parsley emulsion. While the dish was visually stunning, it lacked any sort of flavor whatsoever. The confit cod was oily and bland. The parsley emulsion while bright in color, did not bring any brightness in taste. It simply wallowed in the bottom of the bowl like the algae layer of a forest pond. The clams seemed completely out of place on top of the cod because they presented no differentiation in taste or texture from the fish as both were mushy and flavorless. Finally, the one point of light in the dish was the Parmesan croutons as decoration on the top. It was a relief to finally eat something of flavor, even though that flavor was salt.
The Green garden risotto was the one saving grace of the meal. Several diners ordered the dish and all seemed to really enjoy it. I personally know I was eating it because I didn’t want the fish any longer. Served with ramps, English peas, and Parmigiano Reggiano, It lacked the smooth creamy texture and layers of flavor of other risottos I have tasted. I assumed the abnormally large chunks of zucchini mixed in to the risotto were an attempt to distract the diner from the other flavors that in my opinion were absent from the dish (they must have had the night off). The blandness was somewhat counteracted by the Parmesan cheese but all in all the dish was boring , unoriginal and only memorable for its negative qualities.
Finally, when we finished Patina’s version of torture, we were served a complimentary dessert of three different cookies that consisted of a grapefruit gelee, a mini pistachio macaroon and a butterscotch square. Surprisingly, the mini pistachio macaroon burst with big, authentic pistachio flavor. The grapefruit gelee also tasted distinctly like grapefruit, while some may find that impressive, I am not fond of grapefruit so no points from me on this candy. The butterscotch square (I’m not completely sure that is what it was but going with it for now) was dry and oily and not really worth talking about.
It pains me to give this review, but it is unacceptable for complimentary dishes to outshine the entrees that patrons will actually be paying for. All the dishes looked promising with their vibrant colors and impeccable presentation, but unfortunately, my vision was the only sense that was stimulated by this meal. My taste buds left neglected and unsatisfied and the couple who had recommended the restaurant apologized. Patina you receive my first One Fork Down review.