Friday, February 4, 2011

Pan American, New York

Another night, another temporary departure from the office for dinner with a friend (tonight: Wolf) before returning to work until 2. Fortunately I did a touch of research in advance and this place turned out well. Wolf, I promise I didn't see the review from Ashton B. on Yelp who says this place 'oozes sex'.
Hoo hoo, it's the Pan American! I like to call this picture 'Still Life: Pan American Wolf'. The PA has been open for a couple months at this stage and is doing a good job of being bright and cheery while also dim and sceney (for a change, I'm not complaining about the relative darkness here, poor photo ops aside, because this seems like the right balance of darkness, neon and candles. They were pretty much fully booked, although we got there at 7:30 and it was still totally empty.

We sat at the bar and enjoyed service from Jason. I should point out that he wasn't crass enough to introduce himself up front - it's not a damn Applebee's - but I heard that in the course of him being friendly to another customer. We also enjoyed service from the three frozen-drink machines, this one being the mojito maker. Hi buddy!

Pan American's food is meant to be a mix from all across the Americas, with a focus on the southern parts and complete disregard for Canadia (damn proper, I say). In the dim distance here, some empanadas, flaky and rich (with that guilty-please two-color drizzled matrix of cheez sauce), and in the foreground a tub of queso fundido, which is Mexican for 'trust fund cheese', in honor of the people who can afford to live and dine in Soho / Nolita. (Incidentally, I see that Nolita isn't part of Soho - being North of Little Italy, it's a distinct area that remained more working-class for longer. Now I think it all runs together, although maybe the boutiques are bigger and a bit fancier in Soho proper.) The queso was very tasty, thanks for asking.

Still on a quest for something vaguely boutique and artisanal in the cocktail department, I ended up with this. Again I can't remember the name, but the muddled red table grapes in it were a really cool idea, as were the grapes on a skewer. Two cocktails before going back to work was a less good idea than a cup of coffee the night before.

The Wolf had his pork. I'm not even sure that I tried it.

Oh, this is a good place for an aside about the gluten-free mac and cheese. We asked Jason how that was, and the chef wandered by at that point to helpfull tell us it was quinoa pasta, and he had even made sure to use corn starch instead of flour in the sauce.

I do know that I tried the beets. They may even have been my beets. I'm pained in retrospect that I didn't eat more of them, because I love beets and you can't get them much in Japan. Especially golden beets. Anyway, these were pleasant, but the ones Dad (not a nickname) had on the following night were awesome and worth waiting for.

So yeah, I didn't eat much in the beet department because I was in Americania, figured I might as well go the whole hog for the week (like the upcoming Monday when I skipped work in the afternoon and visited three dessert shops...). And 'whole hog', ironically, means 'big steak'. The Tomohawk steak was absurdly large, well-charred on the outside, and tasted good. I would recommend splitting it between three people. Seriously, two isn't enough. Do people eat the whole thing? America, this is why you're fat.

All too soon it was time to bid a fond farewell to Jason and the lil' Wolf and head back to work. This picture isn't great, a common theme of my work in New York, but if you were there in person you'd see that each of the silvery blobs in the window grid is an old-fashioned sewing machine. Put enough of anything together, it's cool.

And evidently, if you put together enough Americans in a Pan, it's also cool. I liked this place.

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