In a year of the opening of many excellent bars and restaurants in town, 2018 ended with the opening of yet another place that promises to be a huge hit into the New Year – Panama Social.
Taking the place of the short-lived Cyril Masons – and with the guys behind Mary Street Bakery and that other fabulous newcomer, Tinys, in charge you can expect big things. An attractive set up with lots of greenery from Little Green Scene – a mix of booths, tables and high top benches, a pleasant and cool al fresco area at back, a menu that is geared towards the cuisine of South America and a nifty wine list, everything comes together to create a semi-tropical haven in Northbridge.
The wine list has some interesting and innovative drops on it – at least in the sparkling, white and rosé selections – with La Violetta Spunk Nat leading the sparkling charge, and with whites including Walsh and Son’s Little Poppet, La Violetta’s impressive Pinot Gris and Arneis blend, and Snake and Herring Sabotage Riesling, and with the excellent rosé from Alpha Box and Dice, Pink Matter it is a very good list. The reds are a little less interesting with only the lovely Tempranillo from Perth Hills maker Fairbrossen standing out for me.
We of course chose the Spunk Nat (never pass up a Pet Nat may well be my new motto) which went down a treat – made from Riesling and Shiraz it is bright pink, with a bouquet of crushed strawberries and a floral note; the crisp, effervescent palate, full of raspberry, cranberry and cherry flavours – and then moved on to that aforesaid Tempranillo – dusty cherries on the nose, chocolate, plums, leather on the palate.
As for the food, we started with a snack of hominy – puffed maize with cumin and pepper to add a little spice – just the thing while having a beer I would think. Tided us over till the rest arrived – which wasn’t long at all.
On to a dish of empanadas – wonderfully flaky pastry enclosing a filling of chopped octopus, and black beans – these were my dish of the night and definitely on the list when I return – lovely with a bowl of fennel flavoured mayo to dip.
A Tostada of juicy, firm prawns and creamed avocado, sliced pasilla chilli, on a crispy tortilla also hit the spot with a great combination of flavour and texture.
And finally, Chicken ribs barbequed with spicy jerk sauce and drizzled with crema fresca – plump, juicy, spicy chicken (who thought chooks had such big ribs?) – The perfect package of flavour.
And I should not forget the dish of Scotch bonnet dressing available to spoon over everything adding, if you want it, and I did, additional heat and spice – fabulous.
It was opening night and quickly became full but the service never faltered, friendly, efficient, always on hand; a DJ arrived to spin a few discs, and everything just went off without a hitch. Panama Social is sure to be a big success if the first night is anything to go by. Wil be back very soon.