Saturday, May 2, 2015

Dinner at Restaurante Pencas

Outdoor interior of the Restaurante Pencas
After a brief rest, I had hunger. "Tengo hambre," as we say in Spanish. I had recommendations from the hotel desk for two "Panamanian" restaurants on the Amador Causeway. Friday night, I chose poorly. Well, not so much poorly as "sub-optimally." Tonight, Saturday night, I chose quite wisely. I chose Restaurante Pencas.

I walked past it Friday because, from the Amador Causeway side, it looked a little too "tiki bar" for my taste, It was closer to my hotel, so I decided my feet could handle the 15-minute walk to the Pencas. My stomach is oh-so-happy my feet did.

Why was this such an excellent meal?

Cerveza Balboa
It wasn't the beer. Last night I had a Panama beer. It was terrible. It was so weak and thin it made Corona seem like Guiness in comparison. The Balboa was still a little "light" for my taste, but it did have some flavor.

No, the reason why this was such an awesome "I'll remember this dinner for the rest of my life" good was the appetizer course:

Ceviche de Pulpo
Ceviche de Pulpo. Yes. Octopus. Octopus is not just for Croatian salads anymore. I am dead serious when I say that this Ceviche de Pulpo was one of the most delicious things I have ever eaten. It is right up there with the Raspberry Shortcake from some diner in Ironwood, Michigan. Or the Pag lamb at the Hotel Tony. They used an orchard of limes on just this single dish of ceviche. It was as sour it could get without crossing the line into "too sour." The sweet onions tasted very mild after their citric acid soak. And the pulpo, the octopus, was very very tender.

When I placed my order, the waiter -- without knowing my intent was too eat as Panamanian of food as I could find -- called my order "very traditional," then adding that it was "very Panamanian." My reaction? "Excellent!"

Camarones a la Criolla, with a side order of Patacones
My "traditional" Panamanian order was Camarones a la Criolla, Panamanian style shrimp creole, with a side order of patacones, known as tostones to my Cuban friends, fried green plantains. And there was a very small Caesar salad on the plate, made, of course, with anchovies.

It was quite delicious. But it was no Ceviche de Pulpo, let me tell you.

Canastas de Almendas
I was going to skip dessert, seeing as I was full and all that, but the waiter brought out a dessert menu instead of the drink menu I requested, so I was powerless to resist. Powerless to resist the power of the Canastas de Almendas. It translates to the less-delicious sounding "almond baskets." It was an almond cookie, with a layer of whipped cream on the bottom (!) then a giant scoop of strawberry ice cream and a bunch of delicious sweet strawberries and some chopped nuts. My waiter asked me what kind of ice cream I wanted, chocolate or strawberry. When I said "chocolate," he made a face. So I asked which he recommended, and he said "strawberry." He was right. Chocolate would not have worked as well. It would have taken over. A perfect ending to an incredible meal.

The walk to the restaurant was nice, too. The sun had finally come out.

Ancon Hill off in the distance
Ancon Hill was visible in the distance. Ancon Hill, with its giant Panamanian flag flying at the summit, dominates the Panama City skyline.

Soldier staring at the canal waters
The canal waters glistened -- pretentious word there, "glisten" -- in the sun.

South Korea / Panama friendship pagoda
Even the pagoda de friendship looked better in the sun.

Surrey coming right for me
People were out on the walk along the canal. And some were riding surreys! We had a surrey when I was kid. Fringe roof. Pedaled like a bicycle. These surreys did have the fringe roof, but they were two bicycles side by side with a two rows of benches on them. I want.

Rugby being played
Some folks were out playing rugby.

And this one child was swatting a mango tree with a stick.

Mango tree being given corporal punishment by a young child
Why? Because the sun was finally shining on Panama City. And that was reason enough.

No comments:

Post a Comment