Thursday, December 20, 2012


For my dear friend, Dessert Zombie's birthday he requested Mexican food. He wanted to go to Richard Sandoval's Pampano. He doesn't ask for much normally so I wanted to make sure his birthday was everything he wanted. So I made a last minute reservation to Pampano (plans were complicated by Superstorm Sandy) and happily got one with no issue.
When we arrived, they couldn't find my reservation. Someone had called me earlier to confirm the time and party size though. I found that very strange. However, they were able to sit us anyway. I was happy about that. The space is modern but comfortable. There's a beautiful terrace that would be great in the summer. However, it was cold this time of the year so indoors it was for us.

As we looked over the menu, we snacked on the guacamole ($14) which was rich, creamy, and a nice balance of the avocado, tomato, onion, and cilantro. We also started with a pitcher of red sangria ($38) that easily poured 5-6 glasses. I really enjoyed the wine mixed with the exotic fruit like pineapple and passion fruit. It wasn't overly sweet.
I started with the Pulpo a la Parilla ($15) which was grilled octopus with cactus, tomato, queso fresco, black olive caramel, and lemon vinaigrette. The octopus was really tender and not chewy at all. Even Mr. M&P liked it. The accompanying garnishes paired well in this light starter. I would definitely get this again.
While we ate, we ordered a pitcher of the white sangria ($38) as well. This wasn't as good as the red. It lacked developed fruit and wine flavor. And it was overly sweet. Stick with the red next time.

For my entree, I had the Cerdro a Lostres Chiles ($29) which was a braised pork shoulder with sun dried chile peppers, piloncillo (an unrefined sugar), a rice and manchego cheese croquette, and corn salad. The sauce on the braised pork was a little too gloppy and thick. I took a bunch of it off. The flavor was very much like a sweet barbecue sauce. Too sweet for me in fact. Luckily, the meat underneath was very tender and filled with so much flavor. Rich, meaty flavor. The fried croquette was creamy, rich, and decadent. I welcomed the tanginess of the corn salad to offset this heavy meal. In fact, it was so rich that I couldn't finish it. Luckily for me, Mr. M&P, Dessert Zombie, and Beer Boor were there to "sample" my dish as well.
We also shared a plate of the Yucca Frito ($6) which were yucca fries with roasted garlic mojo sauce. This wasn't very good. The fries suffered from being drowned in the garlic sauce and became limp. The sauce itself was really strong and overpowered any other flavors. I wouldn't order it again.

For dessert, we shared the Pastel de Elote ($9) which was a warm corn cake with coconut ice cream and hibiscus sauce. The cake itself was okay and the coconut ice cream was refreshing. The hibiscus sauce was a little too strong. It didn't need nearly as much of what was put on the plate.

The Pastel de Cafe Y Chocolate ($9) was a bit better with the kahlua mocha mousse cake with espresso glaze and hibiscus caramel. The flavors were fine but not outstanding. The coffee and chocolate flavors seem muted.
Overall, I enjoyed my experience at Pampano. Even with the mishap with the lost reservation, I still found the food good. Some of it can still be perfected but overall I was happy. I would go back to try the other dishes or even check out the taqueria or botaneria on the street level. But next time, I'll skip the white sangria and dessert.

209 East 49th Street
New York, NY 10017
(212) 751-4545

1 comment:

  1. Thanks again for planning my birthday dinner and for it to occur on my birthday too!! I really appreciate it, Hungry.

    Pampano was very nice. So happy I got to celebrate with you, Mr. M&P, Beer Boor and KC that night.

    MmmMmm, juicy red sangria, guac and chips, mini steak tacos and the chilean sea bass entree were very enjoyable. Dessert wasn't anything outstanding but the overall meal was wonderful!


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