If your knowledge of Geography is as poor as mine, you can take comfort in the fact that I had to Google ‘Pan American countries’ when I heard that Panamericana has now taken over Il Lido’s premises at Sentosa Golf Club.
Most new restaurants in Singapore tend to focus on a particular cuisine, but what Panamericana is setting out to accomplish is to represent and present the best flavours of the Pan American region – namely North America, South America, Central America as well as the Caribbean.
The space is bright, with practical use of its green setting and exceptional view of Sentosa’s surrounding waters; I definitely didn’t feel like I was in Singapore anymore.
The bar area is where a lot of the magic happens, as Bar Manager Ricky Paiva gets creative in re-inventing and having fun with classic cocktails.
From the dining area, diners are in full view of where the kitchen roasts the meats. Apart from being quite the spectacle, I’m pretty sure the smoky aroma works to whet diners’ appetites as they pore over the menu.
One of the cocktail highlights is the Panamerican Sangria ($18), lovingly made with Pisco, sauvignon blanc, Cointreau and an array of tropical fruits.
Ricky and his team love to display their showmanship on weekends especially when they sometimes pour the sangria straight into diners’ mouths for added fun and camaraderie.
Great for the blistering heat, and nicely sweetened with fruits, this cocktail should come with a warning label to advise one to drink slowly because it was utterly addictive and had a good kick of booze to it.
Curry puffs aren’t restricted to Asian cuisine as one might think. The hand-made Empanadas ($8 for a pair) here are freshly fried every morning and filled to the seams with lamb, harissa and potatoes.
It is served with a side dip of charred herbs and olive oil, which the kitchen is secretive about revealing when it comes to specific ingredients. I agree completely, because these savoury hand grenades were a burst of flavour and would probably go viral if everyone knew how to make them!
Ah, a very underrated produce — corn. You may have seen street-side vendors around Southeast Asia fire them up on open grills and slather them simply with butter.
The Corn ($12) here is an elevated version of that as it’s prepared Cuban-style and peppered with chilli citrus and cheese.
The only issue you’ll have with this is to decide whether you want to be dainty and use a fork and knife or get intimate with the corn and use your hands!
The corn kernels were naturally sweet, and the manchego cheese added a nice touch of fattiness. Of course, the charred sides were the best parts.
Prefer a little taste of Ceviche ($16)? Featuring snapper, this colourful dish is littered with fresh paw paw (also affectionately known as hillbilly mango), coconut milk, chilli and coriander.
The result was a tangy, spicy appetiser that awoke my taste buds. Non-fans of spicy food may not take to this easily, but if you can handle the heat, this dish comes highly recommended.
The Trout ($40) was one of the most memorable fish dishes I’ve enjoyed in a while. Encrusted in salt and served with tomatillo verde, the fish is the real star of this main. When it arrived at the table, a server assisted in splitting it open, deboning as much as he could as well as portioning it out.
It was satisfying to see the fish spine being pulled out whole, and even more gratifying to taste the flaky flesh of the trout. This dish had me going for seconds, and even prompted me to stop the table from being cleared as I couldn’t bare to watch any remnant succulent flesh being thrown out.
An accompanying salad I would recommend is the British Columbia ($14), made with fennel, apple, beetroot, dates, red cabbage and bird seed mix.
The crunchy textures served well to balance the soft tenderness of the trout, and the subtle tartness of the apples contributed a refreshing element to the combination.
Meat-lovers, you’re not (and never) forgotten. The Rib Eye ($42 for 250g) is a hearty serving of beef dressed in mustard seed caviar and charred spring onion. Every slice was about half-an-inch thick and gave way effortlessly to every slice with my knife.
The mustard seed caviar wasn’t as potent as you’d expect say, English mustard to be, but the hint of pepperiness was the cherry on top to this brawny entree.
I’m well-aware that lamb is a meat that you either love or hate, but take a chance with the Lamb ($45 for 350g) here! The generous pile of lamb slices visually floored me, and it was hard not to salivate at the juices that were flowing down the mountain of meat.
Yes, it was gamey (as one would expect), but the flesh was tender, smoky, moist and had a great fat-to-meat ratio. It would actually be the first time that I have to say that the lamb dish trumped the beef, and that is reason enough for anyone to try this dish.
Thinking of what to pair with the meats? Beer-lovers can rejoice as they even have their own beer, the Panamericana Pilsener ($15 for one/$68 for a bucket of five).
It wasn’t too malty, which I love, and very light. The subtle bitterness cut the heaviness of the meat just right without overpowering the dishes either.
Another great choice would be the novel Bulleit Bourbon & Apple ($10). Not only was this refreshing, but it had a great tart and slightly sour profile that cleansed the palate. I would say this works as a go-to in between courses, and a fine way to get tipsy.
I cannot find true satisfaction in any meal that doesn’t have dessert, so I was so glad to have the Churros ($12) with dulce de leche (a caramel-like sauce that’s made with milk and sugar), and Sticky Date Pudding ($10). I
was informed that the Churros here is one of the best in Singapore, so my expectations were already heightened.
First of all, the dulce de leche was not too sweet and not too runny, so that received two thumbs up from me. In fact, it had a smoky aroma to it which I was fond of, giving it a complex profile as opposed to just being sweet.
The Churros itself was amazing. I totally understood now why some may label it as the best in town. It was so crunchy on the outside, and soft and pillowy on the inside.
The best part is that it actually had flavour to it; not just tasting of dough. I could totally see how someone (who has a lot of time on their hands) would come here just for cocktails and Churros.
As for the Sticky Date Pudding, I feel like I’ve had better. Flavour-wise, it fell flat and although the pudding was moist, it wasn’t sticky in any way. Perhaps it’s a personal preference, but I do like my sticky date puddings leaning towards the stickier side.
Panamericana felt like a short food vacation for me, mostly because of its remote location. I can easily understand most people’s gripe about the journey to Sentosa, but I also felt the meal and experience itself makes it worth the ‘travel’.
There’s something on the menu for everyone, be it whether you like your vegetables or meat, and it’s done so well! The next time I can find a friend whom I can hitch a ride into Sentosa with, I’ll be directing them to Sentosa Golf Club.
Expected damage: $30 – $60 per pax