Restaurant Reviews

Panama Dining Room: Restaurant review


Level 3
231 Smith St
Fitzroy, Melbourne, VIC


Dinner daily 6pm-10pm


E $9-$21
M $33-$39
D $16


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.
(03) 9417 7663
Bookings recommended
  • Licensed
  • Bar
  • Wheelchair Access
  • Impressive Wine List
Accepted card types:
  • American Express
  • Eftpos
  • MasterCard
  • Visa
Ayhan Erkoc
This review was made independently for the Gourmet Traveller Restaurant Guide. The guide's reviewers visit unannounced and pay their way.