Panama Dining Room
Go for the food, stay for the view at this Smith Street stalwart.
Smith Street is collecting good things at the moment. Jimmy Grants, Gelato Messina, Smith Street Alimentari — the list goes on. But there have been some keepers there for a while, quietly luring food lovers to the grungy Collingwood street. One of these keepers is Panama Dining Room. High above the street — some serious stairs are involved, short dresses and heels make for an awkward entrance — you'll find this loft-style dining room and bar. With huge windows there are views worth the hike alone. The bar section can get rather rowdy but the dining room remains separate allowing seclusion for optimal enjoyment of both the drinkables and eatables.
The dining room menu is laid out for a three course affair. Starters like anchoiade dip with crudites ($13) and salmon rillettes with herb salad and toast ($10) stand in to whet the appetite. When it comes to the entree you can start big with the divine and gooey Australian burrata — a soft-centred mozzarella — served with salsa rossa, grilled focaccia, olive oil and rocket ($15). Seriously, do it. Or if you're feeling a little more reserved you can go for a delicate warm prawn and smoked octopus salad with kipfler potatoes, green olives and espelette pepper ($16).
Mains come in the form of pillow-soft citrus infused potato gnocchi served with fresh peas, tomatoes, leek and almond puree and parmesan crisps ($26.50), or hearty chargrilled grain-fed porterhouse steak (medium rare) with a porcini, truffle and confit garlic butter, duck fat chips and watercress salad ($33).
Now, to the sweeter side of things. A flourless chocolate cake served with cherry compote and milk chocolate ganache ($14.50) is a decadent choice, while a bite-sized option comes in the form of a salted caramel praline macaron ($4.50 each). You can also go for a cheese platter of two, three or four cheeses. The Beeler Hoch Ybrig from Switzerland is strong with a sweetness to it, while the Woodside Figaro from SA is a crumbly soft goats cheese with a rich texture and flavour.
The wine list is lengthy. Starting with a selection of Italian Prosecco and finishing on 25 year old Pedro Ximenez, you'll find something to match perfectly with your meal.
Go for the food, stay for the view.