It was so quiet climbing the flight of stairs that for a moment, I thought we had gone to the wrong place or possibly – heading towards an obscure club. Almost fooling everyone by its practically sound-proof doors, Panama packs a lively atmosphere but not too noisy as to detract from the occasion.
As the name suggests, the restaurant consists of a casual bar section with a pool table and a dining area serving French bistro cuisine. The dining area is lit by two oversized arched windows which give beautiful views of Fitzroy and the city.
Whilst Panama is known for its $1 happy hour Oysters, the focus of tonight was the two set menu options.
The set menu was $65 for 4 courses including a ‘bemise en bouche’ with the choice between three dishes, within each course. An additional $10 would give you an amuse bouche and a glass of champagne.
Amuse Bouche: Scallops with fennel cream and fresh perigold truffles
Perfectly seared and the fennel cream was just divine, melt in your mouth goodness.
Entree: Lobster salad, buffalo mozzarella, tomato and basil
Light and refreshing, the tomato was mildly picked which gave the dish a nice tang.
Entree (Mr’s choice): Smoked duck and fig salad with witlof, vanilla and tarragon
You can never go wrong with duck and fig. I was worried the duck was sliced too thickly and might be rather chewy, but luckily it wasn’t.
Main: Confit king salmon with cucumber, heritage tomatoes, capsicum, Avruga & diamond clams
The salmon was cooked perfectly and the slight saltiness was offset by the vegetables.
Main (Mr’s choice): Chargrilled flank steak with Paris mash, porcini mushrooms, garlic and shallots
Didn’t taste much of this so I can’t comment – but I hear it tasted good
Dessert: Uplands pleasant ridge reserve cheese
This was described as an alpine cheese with grassy tones and caramel. I definitely concur and really enjoyed this.
Overall, this was an enjoyable dinner – no over the top Valentines day decor but just solid food within a relaxed environment. I’ll remember to request a window table next time.
The Panama Dining Room and Bar
Level 3/231 Smith Street
Fitzroy VIC 3065