Like many urban centers, Santo Domingo is a mecca for international cuisine. Dominicans know and love their food. Since I’ve been staying with family, I’ve had the good fortune of experiencing countless homemade Dominican specialties. So when we arrived in the capitol, it was time to branch out.
After a day spent exploring Santo Domingo’s historic center, we returned to the Zona Colonial for dinner. My Aunt Alicia, who lives in the city, recommended a restaurant on the main plaza called Pat’e Palo (translation: peg leg). And thank god she did.
The chef was a personal friend of my aunt’s (and a judge on the Latin American version of Iron Chef), and came immediately to the table to greet us and make recommendations. He recommended the 7-course tasting menu of the evening, which quickly turned into a 9-course meal with the additional recommendation of not one but TWO appetizers. Rum and lime juice in hand, I settled in my chair for the culinary experience of a lifetime.
Our first appetizer was a take on Indian samosas. Crisp pastry wrapped around juicy guinea (the bird, not the pig) and then dipped in a curry-like yogurt. Can it get any better than that?
The answer is yes. Our second appetizer quickly trumped the first: promptly brought to the table was a plate full of fat shrimp sitting on a bed of what they called a ‘parmesan fondue’ piled on a slice of baked apple swimming in a pool of some delicious saucy confection (alright, alright, so I’m no food writer. But it was awesome).
Then the actual meal started.
Course #1: a soup of mascarpone cheese topped with a layer of creamy tomato sauce served underneath a piece of grilled garlic bed with a single anchovy on top. Sweet and salty and delicious.
Course #2: A carpaccio of some thinly sliced, delectable fish I can no longer remember topped with fresh lime and caviar.
Course #3: A single wild boar sausage, made in-house.
Course #4: My personal favorite, steamed sea bass served in a mason jar-like contraption in a delectable but light tomato sauce. No exaggeration – it melts in your mouth.
Course #5: Duck, duck, duck. Not sweet and sticky like so many ducks. Soft and savory and fall-off-the bone duck. Duck, duck, YUM!
Course #6: Assorted cheeses from where else but the American Midwest!
Course #7: A bready version of crème brulee topped with, get this, popcorn ice cream. I have to admit when I first heard this I wrinkled my nose but not only did the ice cream taste exactly like popcorn – it was DELICIOUS.
I mostly felt the need to write this post so that I myself could remember this incredible meal, but the gist of it is this: if you’re ever in Santo Domingo and just a tiny bit hungry, visit the colonial zone and Pat’e Palo. It will be hard on your wallet, but oh so easy on your taste buds. And, I promise you, worth every single delectable penny.