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.
Green Mango-Shrimp Ceviche
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!
92 7th Ave South
212 488 3900