All this may be a bit too exotic for some of Patina’s Short Pump-area regulars, which accounts for a statement on the menu that says, “If you’re not in the mood for adventurous food, please ask your server about a simple presentation of your favorite dish.”
Such is life in the suburbs, where many of the diners are families whose adults are trying to balance their desire for a gourmet meal with the demands of the younger members for burgers or pasta. The latter are appeased with $7 meals of chicken fingers, pasta, ravioli and grilled cheese.
Two recent visits produced ambiguous results. The first came on an extremely busy Saturday night when the service broke down badly — after a 45-minute wait between appetizers and entrees, the wrong food arrived, only to be followed within minutes with the correct order, twice.
Our sever had explained that the crab Napoleon ($25) would be served warm, but by the time it got to us it was closer to cold. Too bad, because the concept, like much of the menu, was inventive — layers of lump crabmeat, avocado, tomato salad and Salvadoran sour cream with chimichurri sauce and roasted pumpkinseed dusted with chayote squash.
The server also had questioned us about the rabbit ($23), intimating that it might not be a good idea if we were not familiar with the dish, although it’s popular with those who are experienced with it. Having eaten coniglio in Italy more times than I might have preferred, I took the chance and was rewarded with a plump, juicy breast braised in cider, accompanied by beech mushrooms and mashed potatoes.
A New York strip steak ($24) ordered medium-well came to the table undercooked, but when it returned, it was prepared as requested. A nice touch was a GruyŠre lasagna filled with ample amounts of cheese.
On a subsequent visit early on a Sunday night, the food matched the service, which was cordial and professional. A special of beef tenderloin ($25) was tender and succulent, and accented with a cheese potato au gratin. But an entrée of sausage made of lobster ($26) struck a discordant note. A smoked ham hock bathed in a Creole sauce overpowered the flavor of the lobster except for slight fishy aroma. Even though the end result was good — the sausage was crisp without being oily — it was a waste of lobster.
Appetizers also can be adventuresome. Scallops ($9) were expertly seared and wrapped in proscuitto and lifted above the ordinary by spinach gnocchi. Jalapeno empanadas ($10), stuffed with grilled chicken and Mahon cheese, were a bit too oily, but otherwise properly crunchy. An artichoke heart ravioli ($8) came with a grilled Asian pear, whose sweetness was tempered with shiitakes and shaved Parmesan.
The scoop of sorbet presented between courses is a nice touch. And desserts — eight in all — include a Heath Bar cheesecake, banana filo, caramel and pecans in a spiced cream, and lemon and pistachio biscotti. S
Patina Grill ($$$)
3415 Lauderdale Drive
Dinner: Monday-Thursday, 5-10:30 p.m.; Friday-Saturday, 5-11 p.m.; Sunday, 5-9:30 p.m. Brunch: Sunday 10 a.m.-2:30 p.m.
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