I’ve been enjoying more Latin food since I met Jess. And one of the places that I tried and really enjoyed was Patria Latin Bistro in Rahway, New Jersey. And we went there a couple of times.
And the experiences were very different even though we got food and drinks both times because of one key thing: a renovation/revamp at the restaurant. It had the restaurant closed for a couple of weeks, but I didn’t know what an impact it would have on the food.
I will say that the drinks were amazing both times, specifically the Buen Amor (champagne and hibiscus liqueur with an edible flower inside the glass) and the Patria in Paris (Grey Goose melon vodka, Chambord, pineapple juice & lime juice).
The First Time
When we went pre-renovation, we ate:
- Chorizo: paprika spiced sausage sautéed with garlic & sherry
- Guacamole served with plantain chips
- Pernil Asado: slow-cooked oven-roasted suckling pig served with yuca con mojo, sweet plantains & black bean sauce
- Salmon a la Plancha: sautéed salmon with shitaki mushrooms, zucchini & fingerling potatoes in a chili pasilla malta sauce
Everything was so delicious and well-flavored. We went to go back again for a fun night and that’s when we found out Patria was closed for renovation. We eventually did.
The Second Time
Post-renovation Patria Latin Bistro was a much different experience, especially since all of the food we enjoyed was off the menu. We ate:
- Bay scallops with olives in a romesco sauce
- Croquettas: confit pork, dijonaise & pickled shallot conserva
- Pork tacos
- Yuca chorizo hash
This food this time around was very underwhelming outside of the hash side dish. We couldn’t put our finger on it at first, but then we realized what the issue in every dish was: a lack of seasoning. The main parts on each dish (scallops, croquetta, pork) tasted so bland and relied on other ingredients & sauces to make them tasty. The food was well cooked (i.e. not raw), but the taste left a lot to be desired.
Upon doing research for this blog, including digging around their Facebook page for some menu items since their website has the much more appetizing old menu, I read that they hired a new chef. I guess that explains things.
I’d go back for drinks, but make sure I have a full stomach. Or some snacks in my pockets.