Oh my god, every year I get brattier and brattier. In the old days I'd be shocked and amazed if a guy bought a carton of kung pao chicken and let me pick a few bites. Now I expect the world. Well, the world outside east midtown.
I've had such irrational aversion to the east 50s since my new job stuck me in this stagnant no-man's land. Sutton Place is scary. Shun Lee Palace is scary. All of Third Ave. gives me the heebie-jeebies.
So, it weirded me out when James mentioned he'd chosen a Valentine's restaurant near my office. I'm still not sure how he stumbled upon Pampano. But I guessed it because he has a propensity for Latin American or meaty restaurants for celebrations. Really, he was being thoughtful since I've been attempting to eat moderately light and figured seafood would be safe.
And Pamapano was perfectly nice. Unfortunately, it got overshadowed by our showier Blue Hill meal later that week. I mean, the two are nothing alike so I shouldn't compare them. Valentine's is one of those tricky dining occasions because it's hard to avoid the hype and hokeyness. It's definitely not the best measure of a chefs strengths.
We started with guacamole because that's what you're supposed to do at higher end Mexican places in Manhattan. And then we went with the prix fixe, which I'm having a hard time recalling in great detail, despite taking photos. I think drinking on an empty stomach before dining can exacerbate this memory problem. It is interesting to see the food all together in this fashion, as it's clear that there's a distinct color palette being employed.
Pampano * 209 E. 49th St., New York, NY