Posted by: David Stewart | May 13, 2011

You leave hungry or poor, but you are happy

We had an amazing dinner at Patanegra in Northwest Portland this week. This is a Spanish tapas place, in a quiet corner off of trendy NW 23rd. Tapas is traditional small dishes, designed to be shared. Deb and I were there with our friend Jeff, and Deb had a Groupon for $50, so we had the excuse to try several dishes. But I have heard some say that when you leave a tapas place, you leave hungry or poor, and indeed each of the dishes were on the order of $8 to $10, which isn’t cheap.

Paella - wow

The star of the meal was this amazing paella, which is a rice dish served in a distinctive pan. This one had various kinds of seafood and meats. I always thought paella was from Portugal, but I have had it in Chile before so perhaps it is universal for Latin countries. I was however told that ceviche (cold fish marinated in lime juice) is more of a Latin American thing rather than Spanish. Just to give you a hint, there was a mammoth paella pan hanging over the main entrance of the place.

We sampled a number of other dishes as well as the rice:

  • ensalada de remolacha – a beet salad, not my favorite, but not bad
  • queso de cabra al horno – a green salad with baked goat cheese and walnuts
  • tortilla española – which advertizes itself as "Spain’s most famous tapa". This was think slices of a pie with chunks of potato, held together with an egg and cheese mortar and served cold and drizzled with olive oil. As Deb remarked, the potatoes were perfectly cooked and it was a fantastic dish. But not at all what we expected.
  • datiles con jamón – sauteed dates wrapped in ham and served warm in a sauce
  • calamares fritos – deep fried calamari with alioli, crispy and not at all oily
  • codorniz en chocolate – semi-boneless quail in chocolate sauce

Traps in Portland: Patanegra

This last dish was truly amazing – a tender bird cooked with currents, raisins, apricots, little pieces of bread, all cooked and caramelized. Jeff said it was like eating quail candy. Unfortunately, a friend on Flickr thought it looked like  "a huge prehistoric cockroach burned to death…" and I suppose that could be. But it was incredible.

I highly recommend this place. There are a lot of other dishes on the menu that we didn’t try, and it would be fun to check out more of these. Groups in particular would have a lot of fun here. But bring your wallet. We might have left poor, but we were very happy.

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