Patagonia is a region in South America so sparsely populated that its beautifully barren landscape is largely untouched and the mountains, rivers and wildlife thrive far from man’s hand. It is from this geographical heritage that La Patagonia, an Argentine restaurant on Camden High Street sources much of its gourmet touches. On entering you are immediately introduced to Argentine culture by the replica cinema posters celebrating the nation’s classic La Patagonia Rebelde a 1974 historical drama about the conflict between anarchists and the military. And of course photographs proudly displaying their brilliant football history, a legacy so illustrious it’s matched only by their South American rivals Brazil. Maradona takes pride of place as you’d imagine but there are also signed photos from Spurs greats Ossie Ardiles and Ricky Villa.
Newcomers to Argentine cuisine will note that grilled meats dominate the Patagonian menu, a feature it shares with its capital Buenos Aires. Lamb grilled over an open fire is the region’s traditional meat, however, the Cordero Patagonico, which is lamb loin served with mint and coriander is quite expensive for three small cutlets and no side dish. The £16.90 you pay is only ‘palatable’ (considering the high business rates of the Camden location) if the servings are well above average in the cooking stakes. And that’s certainly debatable.
The Chistorra starter could well turn out to be your favourite too. It served its purpose. This spicy Spanish sausage smothered in piquillo peppers and served with rocket will have you wanting more. No don’t be surprised to find a Spanish sausage on an Argentine menu and this cuisine is also highly influenced by the wave of Italian immigrants at the end of the 19th century. 24 million have Italian forebears.
The only other criticism is a lot of the menu comes served with salad and chips and it would have been nicer to have seen typically Argentine side dishes dominate. The public comes to be served but you need to let them know it’s your restaurant. So catering for broader tastes may prove a disappointment for those who have come for a taste of Argentina. Having said that there were many diners who enjoyed the balance of what they know with what they don’t. It’s always hard to find that perfect balance.