Casa Patron: Flavorful Mild Mexican Food

From the outside, Casa Patron looks like any other business in the Ravenna neighborhood – plain, strip-mallish, uninspired. But walk in the door and you are transported to a Mexican Hacienda complete with Zorro inspired chandeliers and cowboy hats hanging over the large downstairs bar.

The dining area of Casa Patron consists of an open area with high ceilings on the lower level, and a smaller, more intimate area of booths and tables in a loft like space. The booths next to the loft balcony let you enjoy the intimacy of the upper area while keeping an eye on the action below and a service bar upstairs means you’ll never have to wait long for your drink.

The menu features traditional Mexican fare but mixes things up with Latin-American dishes like Camarones a la Diabla (large shrimp sautéed in garlic butter with mushrooms, onions, tomatoes, and bell peppers in a hot spicy sauce). 

The meal begins with the expected crispy, salty, just right complimentary chips and two-kinds of salsa; a medium deep red traditional salsa and a pico de gallo variety with a hint of heat.

The cocktail list features a long-list of tequila based drinks and a well-rounded selection of Mexican beers, like Negro Modelo and Dos Equis Amber, on tap.

The Taquitos Patron with chicken ($8.50) is an appetizer fit for four. The taquitos are nicely crisped without the greasiness so often found. The chicken is moist and the guacamole served with the dish is fresh and creamy. If you like your food mild, this is an excellent starter. If you like your Latin on the spicy side, you’ll likely find this dish a bit bland. Dipping in the spicier pico de gallo served with the chips and requesting hot sauce helps spice things up.

Like the Taquitos, the quesadilla appetizer ($8.00) is easily sharable by four or more. Flour tortillas stuffed with cheese or add steak or chicken for an extra $1.00. The cheese is the star here and is so plentiful the steak or chicken flavor gets slightly smothered. 

The Casa Patron Plato Favorito entrée ($18) lets you sample some of the best Casa Patron has to offer. It includes tender steak marinated in a spicy sauce, fresh, meaty and succulent shrimp, and chicken, spiced and pounded thin, and sautéed mushrooms surrounded by super-sized portions of rice and worthy refried beans. The steak was the star of this dish and indicates that any of the dishes on the menu featuring the beef marinated in spicy sauce will be winners. The shrimp was a very close and very satisfying second.

The Fajitas de Pollo ($13) were served in the traditional sizzling manner with a bevy of bright red and green bell peppers and onions and rice, refried beans and flour tortillas on the side. The chicken was well-seasoned but again, not very spicy.

The Enchiladas de Congrejo ($12.95) features enchiladas stuffed with Dungeness crab and topped with salsa verde and Monterey jack cheese.  The salsa verde is just as it should be but a bit overwhelming for the light flavor of the Dungeness crab. The shrimp variation may stand up better to the verde.

Dinner is not complete without a serving of the Coconut Flan; a dish that will convert even the most devout flan-hater. Creamy instead of spongy, with a texture between crème brulee and cheesecake it is infused with a deep, rich coconut flavor. The coconut flan alone is reason to keep coming back to Casa Patron.

Casa Patron delivers good, fresh Mexican and Latin cuisine in a relaxed and friendly ambience. Dishes like the Coconut Flan and the Casa Patron Plato Favorito elevate the cuisine above the typical Seattle Mexican restaurant and the friendly and attentive, but not invasive, service will make Casa Patron a neighborhood favorite.  But, as with most Mexican restaurants in Seattle, it would benefit from turning up the heat.

Casa Patron is located at 805 NE 65th St (at the corner of 65th NE and 8th NE) and is open Monday – Thursday from 11:00am – 12:00am, Friday – Sunday between 8:00am – 2:00am and hosts a daily Happy Hour from 3:00pm – 6:00pm.   Reservations can be made by phoning 206.923.7680.

India and Spain Collide in this Ras Malai

 

At the end of 2008, Jim and I ventured to India to explore, eat and attend a wedding. 

Jim, who puts the P in picky eater, ate everything and LOVED IT!  (Except for the betel leave).  He managed, however, to completely avoid Indian desserts.

Back home Jim’s avoidance technique is foiled by the charming owner of our favorite Indian restaurant, who always brings us a complimentary dessert to sample after we’ve gorged ourselves on dal, jalfrezi and an assortment of curries.  The other week, on two separate occasions (once at the restaurant and once at a friend’s house) Jim was faced with his most dreaded Indian dessert - ras malai.  You see, he just can’t handle the texture of paneer. 

Liking the taste but not necessarily the texture of ras malai myself, Jim’s second encounter with the dreaded dessert started the wheels in my head turning.  How can you get the flavor of ras malai without the texture?

The substitute would have to be able to absorb the flavors of the ras malai sauce and not be too overpowering in its own right.  Hmmm . . . And then, the solution leaped into my mind, FLAN

So, yes, my spin on ras malai is an Indian/Spanish mash-up and against all odds it actually works!  Interested in trying it out for yourself?  Here’s how I did it:

First, the Flan

  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 6 large eggs (I like farm fresh eggs personally, they make a creamier custard)
  • 2 13 oz cans lowfat evaporated milk
  • 1 14 oz can regular sweetened condensed milk
  • 1/2 TBSP vanilla
  • 1 cinnamon stick

Pour the evaporated milk into a bowl and add the cinnamon stick.  You can proceed to the next step or put the evaporated milk/cinnamon stick combo in the fridge for a few hours to allow the milk to thoroughly soak up the cinnamon flavor. 

Preheat oven to 325 degrees.

In a largish bowl (if you have a mixing bowl with a pouring spout, that would be ideal), whisk together the 6 eggs.  Next slowly mix in the evaporated milk and condensed milk, sugar and then vanilla.  Blend until smooth.

Pour the mixture into 6-10 ramekins (number depends on size; for the size pictured here, you will need 10 to use all the custard mix). 

Place the ramekins into a large glass or ceramic baking dish and fill with 1-2 inches of hot water.  Place in the oven and bake for 50 minutes.  Check with a knife slightly off center, if it comes out clean, it’s time to take the ramekins out, cover them and pop them into the fridge for an hour.

Next, the Ras Malai Sauce

  • 3 c. whole milk
  • 1/2 c. sugar
  • 2 tsps cardamom powder
  • 1/2 c. thinly sliced pistachios for garnish (can also use slivers of dried fruit or almonds)

Pour the milk and 1/2 c. sugar into a saucepan and boil (stirring frequently) until the mixture is thickened and reduced 75%.  Remove from heat, add cardomom powder and mix well.

Remove flan from ramekins and place in a dish (I popped my flans out, by circling the edges of each ramekin with a plastic spatula).

Flan ready for the ras malai sauce

Pour the sauce over the flan, cover and refrigerate for several hours or overnight.

To serve, plate one flan in a bowl and cover with sauce.  Garnish with sliced pistachios and/or dried fruit.  Voila!

Do you have any foods you can’t eat because of the texture?  How do you work around it, or do you just avoid the foods altogether?

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