[UPDATE: CLOSED] A few years back I had a full belly when walking by a small Chilean cafe on 48th Street in Union City, New Jersey, but wrote it down in my notes and planned to come back at some point. When that day finally came in November of 2015, the cafe had been closed for years and long gone, now a Dominican grocery store. In my search for Chilean cuisine, I later got lucky as my walk through the neighborhoods of Union City, West New York, and North Bergen turned up Patagonia, an almost one year old restaurant with the same owner as the deli.
Citing a leaky roof and water problems, he moved over to Park Avenue in West New York to expand into a more formal setting, with what must be the exact same furniture that was used in the preceding Italian restaurant in the same space.
As the only lunch customer, I had a nice conversation about Chile with my server and the general absence of the food in New York City (with one exception). To be honest though, Chilean meals are not stars. When I traveled in Patagonia and crossed the border back and forth between Argentina, it was always a relief to come back to Argentinean food. I like the Chilean sandwiches and fast food, and nothing beats an empanada de pino ($3.50, not shown), one of which I took to go, but this restaurant did little to change my perception of the cuisine as a whole.
I was eating alone but determined to order as much as possible, so I tried the appetizer palta cardenal ($9, above), a half avocado covered in mayonnaise and once frozen shrimp. This does not seem like an item that deserves to be served in a restaurant. It was not good.
I had higher hopes for the pastel de choclo ($14, below), which came out looking very appetizing. It was not bad for sure, but despite having chicken inside and powdered sugar on top, corn was the overwhelming taste, covering up everything else.
I started adding some of the aji that was served with the homemade table bread, which spiced life up a bit. The hot plate has a great texture and a lot of potential, just suffers from being a little bland.
Did I order poorly? Maybe some of the grilled or sauteed meats are better choices? I'm still interested, just not satisfied yet.