Speak to me of pork belly and you have my ear. Patanegra at 200 Central in downtown St. Pete had not only my ear but my buds of taste. We will get back to that delicious belly, but first let me mention that Patanegra is a relatively new dining venue (in the former land of the newly wed and nearly dead) serving Spanish cuisine with an emphasis on tapas.
Downtown St. Pete and especially Central Avenue is awash with exciting food and entertainment options. This vibrant district is enhanced by the presence of Patanegra. The Belle of Gulf Boulevard and I journeyed from our home on the beach to treat our gastronomic senses to as many of their tapas as our tummies could hold. Sadly our tummies could not hold as much as our eyes could behold. There is so much on the menu that must be tried.
Vincent, our server for the evening, guided us through the menu. We started with a Sandeman Dry Sherry for me and a glass of white sangria for my bride to accompany our first tapas, the Tabla Sampler.
The sampler combined the meat and cheese samplers with Valdeon Cheese, Manchego Cheese, Rosemary Goat Cheese and Jamón Serrano, Lomo Curado, Cantimpalo Chorizo. A word of warning: if you eat all of those bread slices you will probably be through for the evening, and that would be a shame. We nibbled the bread judiciously. These samplers were a great start to our culinary journey.
The next palate pleaser that was presented to the table was the Ropa Vieja (trans: old clothes) Toston, three thinly pounded plantain chips topped with tender shredded beef, Manchego cheese and drizzled with garlic mojo. The tostons were crispy, crunchy good, and the beef a savory delicious delight.
Next up for both of us were two gifts from the sea that we shared con mucho gusto, Green Ceviche and Tuna Tartare.
That mouth-watering ceviche with fish marinated with poblano pepper, tomatillo, avocado and passion fruit and adorned with strips of fried plaintain was one of the very best ceviches I have ever consumed. The ceviche was enhanced with a glass of sparkling wine to replace the sherry.
The tuna tartare was a feast for the eyes as well as the palate. The tuna tartare was marinated with soy ponzu, Thai coconut, ginger and presented over potato causa, topped with a palate cleansing mango sorbet. The name causa comes from the Incan Quechuan word ‘Kausaq,’ meaning
“that which gives life.”
It was here when I should have waved the white flag of gastronomic surrender, but there was one more treat for my receptors of taste, and that was the simply listed Pork Belly. There was nothing simple about that delicious, fatty gift from the gods rubbed with Spanish paprika and coffee, served with corn arepa, smoked tomato purée and topped with jicama slaw.
Vincent inquired as to our desire for dessert and there were several interesting choices on the menu, and a stand out for me was the Sweet Shooters, a sampling of four dessert choices: tres leches, cuatro leches, suspiro limeño and panna cotta.
To top off our fantastic dining adventure at Patanegra our total for all food and drink came to a very wallet pleasing $116.10. Vincent was definitely deserving of our 20% plus gratuity.
Patanegra serves breakfast, brunch, lunch as well as dinner. They have much that is gluten free, and the diner has a choice of indoor or outdoor seating.
The Belle of Gulf Boulevard said Patanegra is definitely a do again dining spot, so in the words of Arnold, "We'll be back."