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Restaurants & Bars

NY Restaurant Week: Patria and The Leopard

Barb. H. | Feb 3, 200004:52 PM     3

The Leopard: This was the only place at which I could get reservations a few days before Restaurant Week; more popular places filled up quickly. It's a charming but old-worldly place, lots of silk flowers, white linen, waitstaff (all men) in tuxes... Food was good, very traditional, old-school, continental "gourmet" cuisine. Had signature soup-- cream of green pea-- very pea-y, creamy. Then farfalle with prawns in saffron-lobster reduction: pasta was a bit "glucky," sauce rich but tasty of saffron and lobster, prawns (three or four good-sized ones) perfectly cooked. Signature dessert: smashed amaretti mixed with whipped cream and then frozen. Simple but good enough. Good wine, cappucino. An enjoyable meal, very much of it's type. Wouldn't be in a hurry to go again-- but hadn't expected to be bowled over, either.

Patria: I was glad I had made these reservations well in advance.
Meal started with a generous-sized mortar and pestle brought to the table with butter, sour cream and roasted garlic, which we smashed together and spread on wonderful olive bread, whole wheat or semolina rolls--mmmmm. Starter was seared scallops with a hash-like chopped bacon or Serrano-something and a starchy something else (a feeble description, I know-- sorry, I can't identify the components and just don't remember what the menu said), a cilantro mixture and mesclun next-to's. It was wonderful-- two large scallops, perfectly cooked, topping and cilantro terrific-- every bite was different, with varying combinations of the things on the plate. Perfect portion, too. Main was rib-eye steak on rice with huitlacoche. Also wonderful. Steak not huge, just enough, cooked as asked, tender, flavorful. Never had huitlacoche before, but really liked it-- there was enough of it in the rice to really get a sense of what it was like (texture reminded me of straw mushrooms, but earthier flavor). Rice was richly flavored with I don't know what else-- steak juices? Dessert: was called Mocha Granita, but was more a parfait. From the bottom up: small dollop of wonderful butterscotchy dulce de leche, then a layer of something chocolatey that was syrupy on the bottom and cakey on the top, a layer of vanilla ice cream (? or frozen whipped cream?), topped with a good amount of frozen-then-shaved espresso. GREAT. Wonderful variety of tastes, textures, combinations. I really enjoyed this meal and would definitely go back and try more things-- and it was a great value. I was happy to know that they are continuing their $20 lunch prix fixe until May 12. Go.

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