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Not to be repeated: dinner at Panama

Once, quite a long time ago, Levi and I had lunch at Panama. We had club sandwiches the way they should be (but never are here in the Netherlands): they were layered with everything from bacon to chicken, lettuce, tomato and more. And they were accompanied by a big pile of french fries. Thin and crunchy, just the way I like them. So when Groupon offered a three course dinner for two, we took the deal. And what a disappointment that was.

After having signed for the flat this week, we figured we had something to celebrate. So yes,going out to dinner seemed like a good idea. It was, but never again at Panama.

It started off well, with scallops for Levi and thinly sliced marinated veal for me. Levi proclaimed his scallops to be delicious. The veal was very nice, it was a shame that it was draped on top of a pile of raw red onion with a little lettuce. The spongy, disgusting eggplant cubes I also could have done without.

The mains were ok, no more no less than that. The Beef Wellington would have been better off wihout the Wellington bit. The puff pastry hadn't puffed, it was soft and wet and even raw in places. I liked the spinach and the sauce, and the meat inside the pastry was ok too, but still, not a winner for me. Levi had chosen the papardelle pasta with vongole, mussels and prawns. The sauce lacked flavour, it even lacked salt. The tomatoes were unevenly cut and the hard wooden bits at the centre had been left in.

But the desserts were the worst of the evening. Levi's crème caramel looked like it had shifted. It was grainy and felt awful in your mouth. My mousse of smoked dark chocolate was accompanied by bloodorange icecream and an orange tuile. The icecream was lovely: cold, sweet and tart (but probably not homemade). The supposed smoked chocolate mousse tasted odd. It took me two bites to figure out why I could not distinguish a smoked taste: it was peppermint chocolate mousse, not smoked dark chocolate mousse. And after a few bites of the so-called orange tuile, I was shocked to discover my mouth was on fire: there was no orange in the tuile, but tiny chili peper flakes. That could have done with a warning sign!

All in all, it was not as advertised. Nearly everything we had was poorly executed and made without much love or attention. Why insist on dishes that are other than ordinary (a Beef Wellington instead of an entrecote) if you are then going to make them badly? I would much rather see an honest steak with fries on the menu, if I can count on it being done well.

The girl serving us was excellent, very professional. She noticed Levi had not finished his dessert and she asked him if something was wrong with it (although the sorry, disgusting look of the crème caramel was pretty obvious) and then offered him something else instead. He opted for a simple cup of coffee. We'd had enough of the kitchen by then. The ambiance at Panama is good, although a bit run down. The people are nice, but it's just too bad that can't make up for the quality of the food.

Oostelijke Handelskade 4
1019BM Amsterdam
+31 (0)20 - 311 86 89

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  1. I find that a lot of restaurant’s opting to participate in the Groupon deal are doing themselves a great disservice by offering a cheaper, poorly executed version of their normal menu. Nothing worse than getting handed the “Groupon” menu. What’s the point? You leave knowing you got a “cheaper (crappier)” version of what the other patron’s are getting, and you won’t go back. We had the opposite experience on a Groupon deal at Toko MC in the Westerpark. We were pleasantly shocked that we could order whatever we wanted off the normal menu and left saying “I’d definitely go back there and pay full price for those dishes.”

  2. Actually, it was the same here: this was a deal for two people for three courses a la carte!

    It was indeed cheaper, but definitely poorly executed, which is why I felt a review was in order. If we’d have had to pay full-price, we would feel cheated indeed. As it is, we will just never return and be done with it.

    I’m not sure I agree with you on restaurants that do deals in general. We had a very good experience at Lab111, who offered a Living Social deal a while ago (pay €25, spend €50). Although I’ve heard negative experiences about them too, we had a great time!

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