This is one review I’ve so been looking forward to writing. This may not have been the most expensive place I ate on my trip, nor the most unusual, but it was certainly the most delicious. Another creation of Richard Sandoval, restauranteur master of fusion and contemporary cuisine, (you can read our review of Maya here) I cannot overstate the flavours of everything they serve at Pampano, the dishes are overwhelmingly good. The only rivalry was the impeccably attentive (but not overbearing) service.
Entering on street level we were greeted by the host and shown upstairs to our corner booth table, the perfect view of the whole restaurant on a drizzly evening. On a sunny day they have a beautiful terrace above the bustle of the city.
To start we had the four ceviches, all completely different but all perfectly formed with complimentary ingredients: Camaron with shrimp, habanero sauce, cilantro and red onion; Aguachile De Zanahoria with tuna, carrot, fresno pepers, ginger and cucumbers; Mero with halibut, mint marinade, red onion, cilantro, mango, pickled onion; Mariscos with octopus, bay scallops, shrimp, red onion cilantro.
My favourite was the Mero, but I highly recommend trying the platter of all four. Not only is it good value, it’s an experience which will set you up for the rest of your meal. Served with home made tortilla chips that are perfectly salted and crunchy to contrast with the textures of the various seafood, and each topped with a garnish to add to the colourful presentation.
Next up, we were served the signature ‘Para Empezar’ (essentially a starter), one that server insisted we try: the chichirron de camaron. Rock Shrimp with coconut-guajillo sauce and avocado vinaigrette. It was the shining star in a meal that was really outstanding from beginning to end. I implore you, should you visit Pampano – this is a must! Throughout your visit, don’t hesitate to ask the very knowledgable staff any questions you may have, ours was certainly spot-on with his tips.
For our entrees we had the Callos De Hacha – pan seared scallops served with elote, chile poblano sauce and huitacoche risotto and Bacalao Negro (again on the server’s recommendation) which is chipotle-miso marinated black cod, with asparagus and citrus-tequila aioli. Not only were the scallops perfectly cooked, but the risotto was a perfect accompaniment to the gentle spice. The Bacalao had a kick, which I thought was the chipotle miso cod, but turned out as I was adding aioli to mellow it– it was actually the aioli with the spice!
Luckily we had a pitcher of mango peach sangria to cool the heat, which is made with white wine, peach schnapps and fresh fruit. Another perfectly colourful compliment to the meal. My only regret was not trying the array of cocktails, from jalapeno passion fruit margaritas to the acai caipirinha, they all sound delicious and if the rest of the experience was anything to go by they certainly will be.
The restaurant is open for lunch and dinner, and brunch on the weekend, as well as happy hour (Hora Feliz!) at the Pampano Bar throughout the week. If you’re after a less formal experience be sure to check out the Pampano underground Tacqueria – a taste of pompano without the formality of a sit down meal. Personally, I’m a sucker for brunch – and next time I’m back in the city I’m definitely heading back for the unlimited small plates and cocktails for a couple of hours in my new favourite restaurant.