on March 6, 2013
My wife and I were "charged with the responsibility" to identify a restaurant for this evening. We had "no more idea than flying" (using a popular English expression) but as we wandered around town (see separate review) it became evident that many restaurants were very similar. We stopped outside El Patio and as we checked the menu we were approached by Carlos who was real keen to "introduce us to his menu". It looked good to me and given that the restaurant would be transformed as evening came - that is a sand covered area with wrought iron looking chairs, simple cushions and basic table cloths - would have "rustic charm. We must have looked interested because Carlos then introduced a business card with the offer of 10% discount or a free Rum Punch. "Just ask for me" he said "and I’ll make sure you have a good night.The taxi taking us to town must have contacted the restaurant because when we pulled up outside a waiter was waiting there to greet us and lead us in to the restaurant. A real nice touch! He led us right through the almost empty restaurant to a large table next to a music speaker. Initially I through that could have been a bad move but the piped music was not loud and wasn’t therefore intrusive. Our waiter again stressed that he "would be there for us for the rest of the evening" and as he brought the menu to the table, reiterated his mantra for the night and then asked used if we wanted the rum punch or meal discount. We all decided to go for the Rum Punch although when it arrived I have to say that it was distinctly light on the Rum. However, it was very refreshing and it was free!My wife and I went for a shared starter of chicken stuffed Jalapenos. There were four of them with a very tasty dipping sauce - deep fried with just the right level of heat. They were real delicious and the waiter, once again repeating his mantra, assured us that these were the chef’s speciality and were hard to better anywhere else on the Caye.Now the starter had been a brave choice as I was just getting over an upset digestive system (no side effects were suffered as a result of this choice) and I had opted for the Steak with French fries and salad as my main course. I just fancied something plain and simple. However, plain and simple is not really in the Belizean dictionary and my main course arrived smothered in a thick dressing on both the steak and salad. I sighed to myself and started to tuck in to the steak. Well it was excellent and the dressing was not as overpowering as it looked. It was cooked medium rare, as I had requested, and my only complaint would have been that it was a little on the cool side. I guess it had been waiting for the other three dishes before being brought to the table. Do I complain? I decided not too as despite it only just been warm it was delicious.The restaurant never really got busy whilst we were there and at one point there were more people clustered around the bar then there were at the table. So because the restaurant was "thin on the ground" with customers it lacked a bit of ambiance but none of us complained about the quality of the food. It was interesting that as soon as the waiter had given us the bill and received his tip he was nowhere to be seen. Perhaps his mantra that he "would be there for us for the rest of the evening" only extended to the point that he had "signed off" the bill!We decided that we would walk the 200 yards to the airport where we knew that we could pick up a taxi. It was, after all a very pleasant evening. On reaching the airport there were no taxis waiting but within seconds one arrived and stopped for us. He’d already got a couple in his vehicle, but they happily moved further back to allow the four of us in. It seems to be normal for people to double up in Belizean taxis and of course the driver is happy to accept both fares for the journey.All in all, our trip to El Patio was a pleasant experience. It’s a rustic experience and the food is no nonsense. No high cuisine but acceptable and well cooked and the cost will put it in the mid-price range.
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