Maybe it’s Just Me…

This past week I’ve been hearing a lot of buzz about a place in the West Village called Panca, in the space where Pardo’s of rotisserie chicken fame was. With the heat wave that we’re experiencing in the Baked Apple these last few days, it was the perfect excuse I needed to head on over, and try some of the ceviche that everyone is talking about.

We were greeted outside (there have cute little cafe type tables set outside for alfresco dining) by a lovely hostess who showed us to our table (inside, where it was airconditioned!). We had a waiter bring us menus and ask us for our water preference. He left us to peruse the menu which is not overwhelming, but offers a nice variety of ceviches and starters in Tapas and Appetizer size portions. We opted for the taps portions, leaving us free to sample more dishes.

Our waiter came back and asked us if we wanted a cocktail…I ordered my usual, although  was sorely tempted to try a libation called a Cholotini. I actually tried to convince Jerry to try it, but he was craving a beer, and so went with the Cuzquena. Note to self: The day that I open my restaurant, the waitstaff will be drilled with the understanding that if a customer has to wait more than 10 minutes for their drink, they (the waitstaff!) will suffer a slow and torturous death. I could maybe understand if the place was packed, but it was us and two other couples inside! But ok, I was about to forgive all when they brought me (finally!) a martini that was big enough to swim in…and it was perfect. The bottled sparkling water, on the other hand, was room temp warm, and I needed to ask for ice.

I thought we’d start with the ceviches, and follow that up with a couple of appetizers before going on to the entrees. I ordered the Tiradito Mosaico, while Jerry decided on the Green Mango-Shrimp Ceviche. For our Appetizer course, I ordered the Jalea and the Yuquita Frita, and the Grilled Octopus. The waiter brought all the plates at once.

Tiradito Mosaico

Green Mango-Shrimp Ceviche

Jalea

Grilled Octopus

The Green Mango Shrimp Ceviche (Jerry told me that he didn’t care what I ordered, as long as I promised to order that!) was delicious, although I wanted a bit more tartness from the mango. The presentation was lovely, and the shrimp impeccably fresh, but I felt like I wanted the mango to say a few more things to my palate. The Tiradito Mosaico was attractively appointed, and featured two different, cream based sauces, a yellow one with panco pepper, and a pink one made with the fiery rocoto pepper.  There was shrimp, octopus, and snapper strips, and it was garnished with boiled choclo whose texture I love! On to the hot appetizers (which by now were slightly less so!): the Jalea was as fine as I’ve ever had, not greasy, fresh and delicately crisp served with a homemade mayonnaise, and they served it with fried yuca (had I known that, I wouldn’t have ordered the extra order of yuquita). The Grilled Octopus had the perfect bite, and I was only sorry that I hadn’t ordered the Appetizer portion. That’s how delicious it was! All of this eating is thirsty work, so we ordered another round…we were well through our entrees, before we got those drinks. Strike two…

Seco de Cordero

Arroz con Pato

Ahhhh those entrees. Jerry’s lamb shank was falling off the bone tender, and well seasoned, and quite frankly, I could have made a meal of just the beans. My rice and duck dish was enough to feed two, easily, and had cubes of browned duck throughout the cilantro flavored rice.

Incredibly delicious, but by now I was starting to really get peeved about the sketchy service. I spotted a group of cute young waiters flirting with a pretty girl at the outside dining area, while our dranks sat at the bar. After we got them, I didn’t see a waiter again, until I asked for the menu , to see the dessert list. After waiting another eternity, we decided we’d had enough, and opted to fore go dessert.

Now, I can almost see my little Miguelina Jiminy Cricket standing on my shoulder and saying that this is just typical of a Latin restaurant…it’s just the way it is. Well, Migs, you may be right, but that doesn’t mean I have to like it, and while the food at Panco was very good, it wasn’t so good that I am willing to overlook the shoddy service. In addition, the decor lacks any soul, leaving the diner with an “empty” feeling, despite the ample portions. I think next time I’ll give the other tapas-cevicheria right next door a try…the place was certainly jumping, the decor funky, and the crowd really seemed to be enjoying themselves….whoever the owner is!

Panco

92 7th Ave South

212 488 3900

8 Responses to “Maybe it’s Just Me…”


  1. 1 Mike Delgado July 20, 2008 at 1:00 am

    Daiz,
    I have to agree with your assessment. Shoddy and slow service can ruin any good dinner experience. It’s one thing if the place is hopping and overflowing with customers – I can forgive the staff for being overwhelmed with work. But on a slow night it’s inexcusable. For that, I would rather stay home and do my own cooking and cleanup and save the bucks!
    And not to get on the Migs case, pero being a latino restaurant doesn’t excuse it from providing good service. Si no me quieren dar buen servicio, yo no regreso. And they better not expect a good tip, either!

  2. 2 daisy July 20, 2008 at 8:54 am

    Mike, it really is one of pet peeves. Good food is not enough to bring me back to a place…especially if I am going to be aggravated during my dining! Tienes razon…para eso me quedo en casa!
    But in defense of Miggy, she goes out all the time, and is exposed to ptrettty much everything…she ends up trying to defuse me when she sees me getting my Puerto Rican up, lol.
    oxoDaiz

  3. 3 Migui July 21, 2008 at 12:47 pm

    I tolerate laid back service once in a while, while taking into consideration other aspects of the experience. However, I don’t care for bad service at all…at the same time I do not have a say on this one, since I was not there…

  4. 4 Mike Delgado July 22, 2008 at 4:23 pm

    Migui,
    Of course, everything depends on the circumstances. Hanging out at a place that has good ambiance, live music, and the drinks keep getting refreshed ( :p ) you tend to forget that the food hasn’t arrived yet! But when you see the ice cubes melt in your drink as it sits atop the bar while the servers are talking elsewhere kind of makes you wonder if they even want your business.
    And it’s not just in the restaurant business that I see this happening – I see it more and more in all walks of life and service-oriented businesses. A friend of mine recently told me her experience with a refrigerator repairman. He took forever to arrive, came in with an attitude, and then basically told her that he couldn’t repair the problem and maybe if her husband was handy he could do better! Then he had the nerve to ask for a fee!
    I know that what I’m about to say is very generalized and not fair to some, but the idea and practice of good service and taking pride in delivering and providing your best has been eroding – I dare say even quicker lately.
    But maybe that should be taken up in another forum.
    BTW – luv ya, Migs. I wasn’t trying to get your Quisqueya up with that last post! But Daiz brought up something that hit a nerve with me too.

  5. 5 Robby July 25, 2008 at 4:02 am

    Daisy,
    Have you been to that Puerto Rican restaurant Sofrito on 57th st and Sutton Place in Manhattan ? The food is delicious there, nothing out of the ordinary but still great food and a nice place if you don’t mind a salsa band in the dining area. Anyway, when are you opening up your own restaurant, you have your fans in anticipation ! Haha.

  6. 6 daisy July 25, 2008 at 2:53 pm

    Dear Robby:

    Yes, I have been to Sofrito, and I like it!

    No plans for a restaurant as of right know, since I’m working on going back to studio soon..

    Thanks for writing!

    Daisy

  7. 7 migui July 25, 2008 at 2:57 pm

    Mike..Its all good dude.

    Just making sure you understand, and that is clear to all, I do not, under any circumstances accept bad service….drinks sitting at the bar while the staff chats? unacceptable

    Now, don’t let me see you next time Daisy does a demo, unless you want to experience the Quisqueya wrath…lol!!

    Migs

  8. 8 Antonio August 2, 2008 at 4:31 pm

    I probably would have gone up to the bar and gotten the drinks but you can bet that I would have made some type of scene. Or gone up to the waiters and asked if I could get them something from the bar. I could have said,’Yo mira, que pasa aquir?’


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