7 days 7am til late
My old stomping ground of Bondi is not an area we visit nearly as often as we should. The dining landscape has changed dramatically and it really is a suburb we need to be paying a lot more attention to.
Panama House is one of newer establishments to hit the Bondi Road strip and what a welcome addition it is.
Brought to us by the chaps behind 'shop & wine bar' and 'the corner house' - Panama House endeavours to take us on a culinary journey through Central & South America with a stopover in Mexico, on our way to good ol' Southern USA.
We arrive around midday on a very busy Saturday afternoon. The long narrow room, with its denuded walls & industrial lighting (courtesy ici et la) , looks deceptively small - but there is ample seating, thanks in part, to the bar that runs the length of the room and the stools dotted along it.
The menu is extensive to say the least.
There is corned beef hash, breakfast tacos, huevos rancheros or black pudding for breakfast; Tacos (Jerk Chicken, Szechuan Beef, Apple Cider Pork or beer battered fish) & Po Boys (popcorn shrimp, beer battered oysters or beer battered fish) for a mid afternoon snack; while dinner might include Tortilla Soup, Grilled Hangar Steak or Sticky Baby Back Ribs - to name but a few.
We are here for lunch though and we really can't go past the Southern Fried Chicken and the Panama Burger.
A sign that our meals aren't too far off is the arrival of the "condiments" or perhaps best described as 'four versions on a (chilli) theme'. There is the entirely ominous sounding 'Fire water' - 5 types of chillies in vinegar-, fiery Jalapeno , crushed pineapple with a bonnet pepper (which, though milder, still had a bit of bite), and finally a regular non-chilli tomato salsa. Wowee!
Our meals arrive and appearance alone tells us we are in for something pretty special.
The Southern fried chicken - how do I describe this chicken? The coating is golden and spectacularly crisp & crunchy - it is quite amazing, it is not remotely oily or greasy & the coating seems to just dissolve in your mouth. The chicken that it encases is unbelievably juicy & tender.
The corn bread is fabulous and has a great texture, and a real corn flavour - which many of them don't have. We have occasionally heard that okra can be slimy, but our first encounter with this in its fried form has no suggestion of slime about it.
I have been craving a decent burger for a while now - and this Panama Burger really hits the spot.
The hangar steak patty is thick, juicy and just on the medium side of medium/rare. So often the meat on a burger is overwhelmed by the accompanying toppings, but not this one - the pickles, swiss cheese & battered onion rings, really allow the meat to shine. Using hangar steak for the patty results in a really flavourful burger, and one we enjoy immensely.
Mention needs to be made of the accompanying handcut chips. Is there any greater comfort food than well cooked chips? These chips are amazing, these are old school chips & they are the best chips we have had in a while. We could eat a truckload of these.
A shared dessert of Chocolate Fondant with smashed strawberry Eton mess...
Buggles does enjoy herself an Eton mess, but has been disappointed in the past with some delivering an overload of sugar. This one is really well balanced though - creamy - absolutely, a bit sweet and a bit tart also. The fondant itself is nice, but perhaps not as oozy as we usually like. The combination of the Eton mess with the chocolate fondant however, is a fantastic mix.
The place is really buzzing, but the service manages to be quick and friendly to all. Despite the enormous popularity of the place on this fine Saturday, nobody is made to feel that they have to get out. It's a decidedly cool place to be - minus the attitude.
With a menu screaming our names, Panama House didn't have to do that much to make us want to go back - just deliver food to meet its promise with a friendly, laid back attitude. Did they deliver? Absolutely.
We dined as guests of Panama House & Folke on this occasion and certainly loved our experience. If you have had a different experience, please feel free to share it here, or by all means, let us know if you have enjoyed it as much as we did!
Buggles & Squeak