Sunday, 28 November 2010

panama dining room, fitzroy

It had been awhile since I last saw my friend Joanne, so we organized to catch up over dinner at the relaxed loft-style Panama Dining Room on Smith St, Fitzroy. We were lucky to get the only table left for Saturday night at 9pm when I called that evening. Quite a late one, but I guess it builds up the anticipation!

Our shared starter was one of the specials they had that night - I don't remember the description exactly but I think it may have been something along the lines of bonito fish on orange marmalade, avocado puree with a witlof and watercress salad. The different tastes and textures here were wonderful when eaten together. Sweet, savoury, tangy. Soft, creamy, crunchy. Definitely an appetizer that left us wanting more.

Our mains arrive. Mine was another special of the night, wagyu beef with potato rosti and spinach puree. While the rosti was decent and I liked the rich verdant taste of the puree, the wagyu was a disappointment. I must've gotten a bad cut of meat because it was stringy and chewy, which made it a struggle to slice and eat. I drowned my sorrows with sweet Spanish sherry, which is the best one can do under such circumstances.

On the other hand, the Kinkawooka mussels with Sardinian cous cous and saffron that Joanne received was excellent. The seafood flavours were beautiful in this one.

After thinking long and hard about which dessert we'd like to share, we enlisted the waitress for her assistance and with her help, settled on the sheep's milk yoghurt cake with rhubarb and ginger beer sorbet and a ginger florentine. This was delicious - the soft, warm and inviting cake was an exquisite match for the refreshing ginger beer sorbet.

I'm finding it a little difficult to conclude my thoughts on Panama Dining Room, due to the major issue with my main marring what would otherwise have been a completely fantastic dinner. I'm definitely open to going back again to give it another shot. If you've been there, let me know what you think!

P.S. Panama Dining Room, along with many other restaurants, are participating in StreetSmart Australia until the 24th of December. Eat out and leave a donation to support small grassroots organisations that help the homeless! Here is a link to the list of restaurants taking part in this event.

Panama Dining Room and Bar on Urbanspoon


  1. it's such a pity when a few things ruins the whole experience

  2. It really is... overall, they've got a lot going for them so it is quite unfortunate. I still had a good night out though. :)

  3. Well it's just the beef. Maybe next time you should try something else. :)

  4. I've still got lots of Fitzroy eateries to try before I go back there again. It's only the cheap ones that I visit regularly. :D

  5. Panama Dining is a place we take out-of-towners when they come to Melbourne ask for a 'something very Melbourne'. It is just such a glorious example of how we do creative, fun and funky eating. But oh the noise. We've given up going on Friday and Saturday when the bar and billiard table are in full flight. And even Thursday last week it was verging on the difficult. The waiter had to repeat the specials three times and then we still had to repeat them again for one of our guests who still hadn't heard. And we got a wine list instead of a dessert menu at one point. But clearly we aren't typical as the place is usually packed. We prefer to be able to chat with our guests.

  6. Anonymous - thanks for your input! I didn't have too much problem with the noise - I did have to repeat myself a couple of times, but it was fine other than that. I had more of an issue with the inconsistency in quality - which seems to be backed up by other reviews I've read. It's a tough one though, because when they get it right, it's really good!


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