The Patricia opened in December 2016, set up by Nick Grieves , who had previously worked at River Cafe and Fera, and prior to that ran a place called The Garden House. The Patricia is named after the chef/owner’s grandmother and is located on a main road, the dining room having a partially open kitchen at the back as you enter. The dining room was quite dark, with brown walls (at least I think they were brown; it was so dark we couldn't quite tell), wood floor and limited lighting. The hard surfaces also contributed to surprisingly high noise levels, it being tricky to even hear the waiter when taking the order. Via a phone app decibel meter I measured a peak of 121 Db, about the same as a police siren, and the noise levels rarely dropped below 100 decibels. To give you a sense of what this means, recommended exposure time to 100 Db is fifteen minutes (CDC guidelines) and is not supposed to average above 85 Db (UK legislation from 2005). What the room definitely did not need was the additional music that started playing after a while.
The wine list ranged in price from £19.50 to £65, the list including vintages on some wines but not on others. I have written about this before but quite evidently people should be aware of exactly what wine they are buying. Admittedly with modestly priced wines the vintage variation may be less significant than with grander wines, and consequently the price variation between vintages fairly small. Nonetheless, restaurants should assume that at least some of their customers care about wine and want to know what they are ordering. The list included labels such as Araldica La Luciana 2014 at £22 for a bottle that can be found for £8 in the high street, Domaine du Pelican Arbois Chardonnay 2014 from the Jura at £40 compared to its retail price of £24, and Chateau de Desmirail 2011 was £52 for a bottle that will set you back £28 in a shop.
Bread was sourdough from a baker in Darlington called Olivia Artisan Foods, and had pleasant acidity, though the slices that we had could have been a bit fresher. Butter was from Butter Culture, a company formed by a former Gordon Ramsay chef called Grant Hetherington. This butter was indeed very enjoyable, creamy and well made.
A salad of beetroot came with red mustard frisée leaves and gribiche sauce (which is like a mayonnaise but where the eggs are cooked rather than being raw, and with cornichons and capers). The beetroot was very good, the leaves having a gentle bite and the sauce nicely balanced. The earthiness of the beetroot worked nicely with the richness of the gribiche, with there being just enough bite from the capers (14/20). Crab with tomato was a simple but pleasant starter. The crab was shell-free and tasted fresh, the tomatoes being from the Isle of Wight and having decent if unexceptional flavour (13/20).
Pappardelle with girolles and peas featured pasta with good texture, nice quality girolles and particularly good peas that were pleasingly sweet (14/20). Chicken came with borlotti beans, young onions and a sauce of salsa verde (which comprises garlic, anchovies, capers, parsley, basil, lemon and vinegar). The beans were tender and the chicken cooked well enough, though to be honest the bird had limited flavour. I did like the onions, which were nicely caramelised, and the sauce was carefully balanced, the parsley not too dominant (13/20).
There is no specialist pastry chef in the kitchen, and sadly it showed. Creme brûlée needed more vanilla in the custard, and the caramelised topping was uneven and overcooked in places (11/20). This was still better than a brownie with milk ice cream and miso (fermented soy beans) . This was a flawed dish, the brownie too dry, the ice cream tasteless and the miso base tasting oily, overly strong and in this context slightly unpleasant - and I should make clear that I am a fan of miso . It was quite difficult to eat more than a mouthful or two. Each component of the dish had a problem, and the combination did not work either (8/20). Coffee was from a supplier called Matthew Algie, and was good.
The service comprised a single waiter, who was understandably stretched. He was well meaning, though was unable to remember who ordered what on the tables on either side of us. The bill came to £67 a head before tip, with a good bottle of wine to share. If you shared a modest bottle then a typical cost per head would be about £60 per person. This was a somewhat frustrating meal, as it was very good in parts, and is clearly an independent operation where care and attention has gone into some of the details. The desserts really let the side down, and it should be feasible to improve the lighting and the excessive noise levels.