Wednesday, December 22, 2010

December 12, 2010: Panama

On Sunday night we met with Mike and Jo, took and lost a chance at Huxtable's non-reserved tables, and continued on to Panama. Three floors above Smith St, it's a surprisingly large venue with bars, pool tables, high tables and couches as well as a more conventional dining section. Glorious arched wall-to-ceiling windows funnel light to almost every corner, though when the light goes down I've heard the music go up and felt the vibe get clubby.

The menu offers a decent suite of vegetarian options - three out of eight starters, two out of eight mains and seemingly all six sides - though a vegan might have to negotiate with staff (the chickpea chip starter and lentil salad main might fit the bill). With starters at least $10 each and mains exceeding $20, we were hoping for something good.

And our starter was good! Michael and I shared one of their specials - zucchini flowers stuffed with gorgonzola and served on a bed of greens and grapes (~$12). The textures were fresh and varied and the sweet/bitter/creamy/pungent flavours were lovely, though a bit unbalanced. Too much gorgonzola, Jo commented, and we agreed.

For his main, Michael ordered the warm salad of lentils, freekeh and crunchy sprouts with sauteed spring vegetables ($22.50). With the exception of the orange pumpkin smear beneath the veges it was bland, dry and disappointing.

I fared better with the ravioli of artichoke, potato and two cheeses with creamed watercress ($24). This was definitely not dry - the sauce was almost a thick soup! There was plenty of springtime flavour and a pleasing balance of rich cheese and filling potato against the lighter watercress and hints of lemon.

It seems that I was lucky more than Michael was unlucky - Mike and Jo were distinctly unimpressed by their more meaty meals. It's a lovely setting that offers a few lovely dishes, but we'll be reluctant to fork out for such inconsistency again.


Level 3, 231 Smith St, Fitzroy
9417 7663
fully licensed
veg entrees $10-14, veg main $22.50


  1. Is that balsamic on your stuffed zucchini flowers?

  2. what a shame the food is so hit and miss (micheal's main sounds v disappointing for the price) given how gorgeous those arched windows look (they remind me of playschool windows)

  3. Hmm, as someone who regularly eats an entire wedge of blue cheese in one sitting, I probably would've gone crazy for the zucchini flowers! :P

  4. I wholeheartedly agree with you Cindy - it is very hit and miss there.

    I have eaten there three times since it opened. When I first went it was incredible. Then the last two times have been very inconsistent. The food is too expensive to be so 'meh' at times. I have stopped eating there.. there are lots of other places nearby where the food will always be good.

  5. Hookturns - I can't remember for sure, but I think so! Probably a reduction, it was quite viscous.

    Johanna, the windows are lovely - I'd willingly go back for afternoon drinks to enjoy them!

    Hannah - you might indeed! I don't mind a bit of blue but it almost negated the 'salad' title of this dish. :-P

    Emily, I noticed a hit and miss pattern to others' blog posts too. And yes, there's a lot of great (often cheaper!) options in the neighbourhood.