Patois executive chef Mike Fitzhugh likes to know what he’s eating when he looks down at the plate, but after helping open Broad Street standout The Establishment and working at several other fine dining restaurants throughout the Southeast, he also developed a passion for picturesque plating, local ingredients and ever-changing menus.
The intersection of those two viewpoints, where the approachable meets the dynamic, is where you’ll find the cuisine at Patois, the latest restaurant to land at 652 St. Andrews Blvd., the former home of Bluerose Cafe and Spanglish.
Fitzhugh is hesitant to label his menu, but his travels to Mexico and the Caribbean over the last decade are driving Patois’ cuisine.
“It only made sense with what used to be here and the connection of the ingredients that we put those two things together,” he said. “Everything is fresh, light, seasonal — we try to keep it simple and approachable.”
Starters and mains like crispy pork belly with peach slices, vegetable curry, ceviche with leche de tigre and watermelon salad topped with Fitzhugh’s special 10-ingredient green sauce epitomize this approach. And when Fitzhugh cooks with a protein like, say, chicken, he utilizes the whole animal.
“We take a chicken, bone it out and then just sear it real simple,” said Fitzhugh, describing the restaurant’s half chicken, served with summer squash and tomato conserva. “It’s an Italian method of preserving vegetables, so we slow-poach them in olive oil and a little sherry vinegar.”
But, that’s not all. The rest of the chicken is used to make the yellow Congaree & Penn rice with spring peas and chicken “crispies” Fitzhugh serves as a side dish.
“It’s every part of the chicken that’s not on the plate,” Fitzhugh said. “We cook the rice in reduced chicken stock and saffron, and then season it with the excess chicken skin from the butchering process.”
In total, Patois lunch and dinner menus each feature 4-6 starters, 5-6 mains and a handful of sides and desserts, but Fitzhugh plans to change the menu frequently. Patrons will start to notice gradual changes to the space, including its new sign, furniture and, eventually, a covered and enclosed patio.
The restaurant is open Tuesday-Saturday, and starting this week, look for beer, wine and cocktails created by general manager Melissa Butts and Daps Breakfast & Imbibe owner Jeremiah Schenzel, who is consulting on the cocktail menu.
For more information, visit patoischs.com.