In some respects, the restaurant industry is a little like the property one. When it comes to success, many restaurants rely on three things: location, location, location. So, when a restaurant hidden in the back of a little mall in the suburbs is fully booked on a weeknight, it’s pretty clear someone is working pretty hard.
Part of the secret to Patina’s success might come from two other magic words: gin bar. Called Botany, the cosy space opens onto a courtyard that the steakhouse shares with El Burro’s Newlands outpost. There are over 50 gins to choose from, 30 of which are local, but there is also a great range of bubblies, 20 whiskeys, and a menu of cocktails. Patina and Botany are run by the same people, but note that you’ll need to pay your bar tab before heading to your table at Patina.
And, you’ll then discover, the other reason for the buzz is the food.
Average main course: R190 to R240 for steaks
Parking: Plenty in the Dean Street Arcade, one road away. (If you stay late enough, the boom is left open so parking is free)
Best for: A celebratory dinner with friends
Star ratings: Food: 4; Ambience: 3; Service: 3
With most steaks above the R200 mark, this is not a cheap neighbourhood restaurant. The steak tartare is the second clue that this is no ordinary suburban steakhouse. Patina’s version of this classic dish is beautifully plated with wafer-thin pink radishes, mustard seeds resting in a boat of pickled onion, and a covering of grated cured egg yolk, which falls like pollen on the pretty plate.
The steak – all Chalmar beef – is perfectly cooked, and has a flavour a notch above most chain steakhouse offerings. Try the fillet champignon topped with creamy thyme, roasted garlic and wild mushroom sauce. There’s also fillet on the bone (a rarely seen cut, which promises more flavour than the standard fillet), lamb ribeye, and a Wagyu burger to be had.
Not in the mood for red meat? The seafood offerings include an unusual calamari dish – a generous bowl of cheesy parmesan risotto topped with grilled calamari tubes. All mains – including, somewhat strangely, the calamari and risotto dish – come with a side. The sweet potato fries – made with gorgeous orange gem potatoes – are particularly moreish; crispy on the outside and creamy in the centre.
This is not a good spot for vegetarians – aside from three salads, they will go hungry.
For pud, there’s a chocolate fondant with hazelnut crumb, mascarpone and sour cherry ice cream. But, in the event that you don’t possess a second stomach designated for dessert, try the affogato: three scoops of vanilla bean ice cream doused in espresso and topped with a sprinkle of honeycomb.
We can recommend starting off at Botany for a gin and tonic. As for Patina’s wine list, there’s a good selection of fairly well-known options, with some well-priced options available by the carafe.
The old Italian Kitchen space has been beautifully fitted out with lots of wood, including designer tables and chairs with emerald green upholstery. It sadly is a little too loud inside – some sound absorption would make a huge difference – so unless you’re there with a rambunctious group of friends, book a table in the quieter covered courtyard.
Staff are friendly, and for the most part efficient. On a busy night, you may be left to your own devices for long stretches. It’s best to speak up and make yourself known.
Book in advance. Patina is frequently fully booked, even on weekdays.
Eat Out critics dine unannounced and pay for their meals in full. Read our full editorial policy here.