January 2011

The Dining Report – Patanegra
Fine Dining In a 3 Ring Circus (Who Song and Patanegra?)


IMG_2038As I’ve always told people, I tend to get all wrapped up in visiting the new restaurants, and forget that now and then I should work Portland’s moldy oldie eateries (those that have been around for over five years) into the Restaurant Roulette roster. Thus was the case with Patanegra, a Spanish restaurant I had put on our “to do” list in the very beginning, but then let fall off the list for over three years. In the interim, “more popular” Spanish/Tapas (NW style) places have opened like Toro Bravo and Lolo, and as they were both so hip and had a lower price point, I basically forgot about Patanegra, rather isolated in the lovely but stinky environs of distant NW Portland, right across the way from good old Food Front.

I remember many years ago, Portland having one Spanish restaurant, Catalana (??) over on Stark at 28th, where The Bonfire Lounge is now. Well regarded, kind of expensive, but not really any Tapas, just entrees. Then for a number of years there was the relatively popular Tapeo in NW Portland, but I think something went wrong with the lease, or the space was too expensive, and although many people lamented it, Tapeo closed. Not too long after (perhaps a year or two) Patanegra opened, not too far from where Tapeo was, and by the same owner.

I remember in the beginning (maybe 6 years ago?) Patanegra got some good reviews, but after that it seemed to disappear from the radar. One time I dropped by there for a drink (but never had one) and found the space very attractive inside, but looked at the menu and thought it would be an awfully expensive place to eat, and back then it seemed like most of the food was entree sized, as the small plate trend had not taken hold in Portland yet. Since that day, long ago, Portland has experienced complete foodie pandemonium though, so who can really remember the restaurants that have been around for over a couple of years? Not moi, obviously.

Recently, however, some oddball in the group asked me about Patanegra, and to humor him, I decided I would check out their “current” online menu. I liked the fact that Patanegra now has tons of tapas, and that almost everything can be ordered in either a small size or a larger sized portion, and while everything was still several bucks more than the food at Toro Bravo and Lolo, I wanted to contrast what was served at a Spanish restaurant with a real Spanish owner, rather than our more Northwesternized Spanish restaurants (I don’t think that Giorgio Kawas of Lolo is Spanish, as his first local restaurant was the Italian place that bears his name, but I could be wrong.) (more…)

What to Order, Thumper or Kermit?

Rarely does someone’s birthday exactly coincide with one of our dinners, and if it does, it often means that the person whose birthday it is has other “more personal” plans. IMG_1951By a weird quirk of fate (and a slight one week schedule adjustment) this year two out of the last three dinners have also functioned as birthday dinners. In October, it was that old hag, whatever her name is, and this time out it was frequently participant David having one of those milestone birthdays (you know those kind, you reach the milestone and fall off the edge.)

I asked David where he wanted to go, listened to his requests, then naturally decided to book our table elsewhere, as I often do. Hey, I even ignored my own request of where to have my birthday dinner, but luckily Andina was great, so I had to agree with me that it was a really good choice. As for David, he told me at the dinner that he wasn’t that excited about a French place for his birthday (thank Dieu that Glenda doesn’t read this thing, as that could do (dieu) her in) but that he thought the whole evening went well and the food was delicious, so it’s good that everyone bends to MY will.

Seriously though, I really would not have picked anyplace Mr. D. found truly appalling for his birthday, but I knew because of Gabriel Rucker’s reputation (Little Bird Bistro is the second restaurant from the Le Pigeon chef) that there would be some good eats coming out of the kitchen, even nine days after opening, so I was anxious to check it out before the hoarding masses came. And besides, David’s favorite, The Pink Feather, was just too scary a drive for the average person.