El Patron is one of those restaurants that tends to surprise you. For one, it somehow manages to be both a quality restaurant and nightclub, which often requires one to be preferred over the other. For another, it manages to provide a slice of the city in the suburbs. It’s the latter surprise that really makes it worth the trip.
Gregory Hills is roughly an hour away from Sydney’s CBD, a distance far enough south-west for some to turn their nose up at, but once you walk past their doors, you could swear that you had just walked into a restaurant in Darling Harbour. Perhaps that’s an exaggeration but it bears mentioning because the décor has been very tastefully done. There is a South American theme to the décor (and food) but without a single sombrero in sight, showing restraint that should be praised. Venetian plastering on the walls, curbed archways cradling couch booths, Terracotta tiles, and an open-air balcony that helps make the place feel bigger than it actually is. It’s very well done and very welcoming.
That welcome isn’t due to the décor alone, but in large part to the staff. They were all smiles, always helpful, and perhaps most importantly, timely. My glass was empty for a very short time before someone came to ask if I wanted another. Drinks are one thing, but the food came out at a reasonable time as well and when it did… my goodness.
I decided that I would risk spoiling my dinner by ordering a big antipasto as a starter and I was so glad I did. Prosciutto, salami, and wagyu bresaola were the meat selections, and each were absolutely mouth-watering. There is a fear with antipasto that each of the selections will begin to blend into one another as one big salty treat, but El Patron provided slices of honeydew melon that were the perfect palate cleanser allowing for each distinct flavour to be appreciated. With the added charred sourdough and sundried tomatoes, this platter provided amazing flavours that took me right back to the Old Country.
Was I full? No, I was excited to see what was next. There were a few steak options on the menu so I thought that this must be what El Patron feels confident in, and they should. I get nervous ordering a steak and asking for it to be served medium rare. Lesser restaurants often cook it medium well done, not so at El Patron, you get what you ask for and you will not be disappointed. Tender and juicy on the inside but charred and crispy on the outside, paired with an absolutely sensational chimichurri which was the surprise of the night for me.
My dinner partner for the evening had the spanner crab spaghetti and this was delicious too. My love for red sauce was quickly quashed after tasting this despite my initial reservations. Once again, I was proven wrong by the chef.
Hats off to the new chef and Camden local, Olivia Warner, for a terrific meal and what has shown to be a fantastic new menu.
Here I was full, where could I fit desert in? I simply couldn’t, instead we went for a sweet cocktail, their signature El Patron. Made with Patrón Silver, Aperol (orange aperitif), passionfruit, coconut, whites/aquafaba (chickpea water). I always worry about ordering sweet cocktails for fear that they are so sweet that you can’t taste anything but sugar, but once again, El Patron have shown restraint with a delightfully balanced cocktail that felt like the perfect send off.
It’s hard to believe that this kind of deluxe experience was in Gregory Hills and that extends to their live music offerings. As it became clear that dinner was ending and the party was about to begin, I saw excited faces and well-dressed individuals pouring in. Some grabbed El Patron’s bombs which are essentially Jaeger-bombs but with a fruity twist by providing flavoured Red Bull, like dragonfruit and watermelon, paired with a corresponding spirit like coconut rum or gin. They’re served in these little curvy glasses that looked cute enough to mention.
Not only do El Patron get in local DJs and bands, supporting their community, but they also bring in international acts like Havana Brown and American rapper, Kid Ink. How do they do it? By taking incredible care with every aspect of their service which is what professionals do and that attracts other professionals.
Those in the Camden area can safely say that they have a venue that compared favourably with offerings you could find in the city. While it may be a pain for those in other parts of Sydney to reach, if you do get an invite at least you can be comforted by that your time will be far from wasted.