Panama Dining Room
Modern Australian
  • Level 3,
    231 Smith St,
    Melbourne, VIC
  • (03) 9417 7663,
  • Dinner daily 6pm-10pm

Panama Dining Room

It's a serious restaurant disguised in party clothes; a third-floor loft cloaking its pretensions with the frippery of a DJ, pool table and retro wallpaper. But once you've oohed over the vast warehouse space with arched windows looking over Smith Street, the menu reveals its surprises. A two-speed approach tacks from jazzed-up drinking food (hummus with the toasted  crunch of pine nuts; saganaki drenched in the Mediterranean flavours of pistachio, raisin and oregano) to dishes with upwardly mobile aspirations. Chef Ayhan Erkoc, whose restaurant Celsius is still missed by Adelaide, teams marron with lemon verbena cream, a levitatingly light bisque-style sauce and green tomato; shattery-skinned barramundi gets the power of black garlic gel and the subtlety of salted kohlrabi with a carrot-top dusting. It's smart stuff, and if the waiters are more attuned to the nuevo-Martini drinkers at the bar, just remember: Panama is no place for the uptight.

You might also like:

Italian renaissance

Carlton, the Melbourne suburb that brought Italian cuisine a...

Atlas Dining, Melbourne review

Atlas Dining transports diners to a new culinary destination...

At a glance

  • Wine:
  • One glass
  • Price:
  • E $9-$21

    M $33-$39

    D $16

  • Feature:
  • Licensed
    Wheelchair Access
    Impressive Wine List
  • Cards:
  • American Express
  • Bookings:
  • Bookings recommended
  • Chef:
  • Ayhan Erkoc



Griffith, ACT
If Aubergine isn't already the real deal, a moody makeover by Caprezio Copeland - sleek, ...

1889 Enoteca

Brisbane, QLD
There's no better place in Brisbane to enjoy regional classics and seek out exciting, low...


Brisbane, QLD
Esquire isn't a restaurant for everyone. Control freaks, for instance, won't like letting...

Bar Lourinha

Melbourne, VIC
After more than a decade, Bar Lourinha's star power shows no signs of waning. Adorned wit...


Hobart, TAS
Calling Smolt a safe pair of hands is underplaying it. Sure, it has savvy staff, a good-l...

Press Food & Wine

Adelaide, SA
Diners and drinkers are in confident hands at this buzzy wine bar and bistro. The wood-fi...

Da Noi

Melbourne, VIC
Sardinian warmth meets assured technique and an Italian-leaning wine list in this cosy So...

Vue de Monde

Melbourne, VIC
Shannon Bennett's flagship makes it look easy. The hefty, broad-ranging wine list, glamor...