Panama Dining Room
Level 3/231 Smith St
(03) 9417 7663
A little while ago, the family + Bf-B and I visited Panama Dining Room on Smith St, Fitzroy for Father-T’s birthday. We were after somewhere modern, European, and moderately priced and that’s exactly what we got. You will have to excuse the photos as it was just after Bf-B had given me my new lens for my birthday and I was still getting used to it (the fact I accidentally had my camera on the wrong white-balance setting also didn’t help!).
The night began with a glass on wine and a nibble of cheese at home first, which gave us a chance to catch up before heading to Panama. I loooove cheese and wine – especially Brie with apple..
When we arrived, we walked up 3 flights of stairs, past Rice Queen on the level below, to reach Panama, where we greeted cheerily a waitress and shown to the table. Poor Father-T was struggling to read the menu in the dim, moody light and so had his phone out to help him read.
Having had the cheese at home, we forewent starters and headed straight for mains. Mother-K, Father-T and Sister-E all chose the slow roasted organic lamb shoulder in brik pastry with eggplant relish and chickpea panisses ($24.50). It looked an excellent choice, and all devoured it happily.
Sister-A meanwhile chose the wagyu hanger steak with slow braised shoulder, potato rösti and sautéed spinach served medium rare ($33.00). It looked as though it was cooked perfectly.
Bf-B chose the gnocchi with pine and wood blewit mushrooms, cavalo nero and sage ($25.50). I think he could have eaten two serves but he eats a lot..
I meanwhile chose the loin of Gippsland rabbit with roasted leg, brussels sprout, confit shoulder, celeriac purée and pear ($25.50), partly because I wanted to try brussel sprouts as they’re banned in our house and partly because I love ordering proteins I don’t often eat like rabbit. It was a nice enough dish, though I wish there was more of it.. For the record I don’t find brussel sprouts as disgusting as Mother-K though they were a tad bitter..
For sides we ordered two serves each of the broccoli with garlic, chilli and capers ($8.00) and the steamed kipfler potatoes served with creme fraiche and dill ($8.00). Bf-B raved about the brocolli and has vowed to try and recreate it at home, while I happily hoed into the potatoes as I’m a huge fan of dill.
For dessert, Father-T and Sisters-A & E shared the sheep’s milk yoghurt “fluff” with rhubarb, ginger beer sorbet and a ginger florentine ($14.50). Not a meal to share between three, and I thought should have been served on a larger plate. I wasn’t sure why they had given the yoghurt the name “fluff” either, as I was expecting something that looked like fairy floss..
Having missed out on the cheese platter earlier as he was running late from work, Bf-B and I shared a cheese board of two cheeses served with quince, muscatels and Di’s lavosh ($15.00). I thought they were a bit mean on the cheese portions, which were themselves delicious. We chose a goats cheese and a brie (Bf-B and my favourite respectively).
They had a special on at the time for wine: order any Italian bottle and receive a second free (Wednesday night only) which is pretty generous. We did also have to wait a while for food to arrive but no drama as we were happy chatting. All in all it was a good venue for a family celebration. Smart but casual, with pretty surroundings and enthusiastic waiters.