The recently hired coat check hostess said most of the opening day staff are still working at Pampano of New York City (there’s another location in Qatar). The evening celebrating the launch of Pampano’s ten year anniversary tasting menu of popular dishes, guests murmured about the friendliness of the staff based on their past visits. Before the event started, the staff finished preparations by placing small vases full of yellow roses on various tables. The bartender stood behind a table expertly arranged with wine, tequilas, fruit purees and garnishes. The evening was an unusually warm Tuesday in March, in between two frigid, cold days. As the event started, the waiters carried out trays of food. I carefully balanced my mango sangria in one hand, made sure the camera was securely around my neck, and tasted Pampano’s empanadas.
In 2003, award-winning Chef and Restaurateur Richard Sandoval and world-famous opera star Placido Domingo collaborated together to create a contemporary Mexican-seafood restaurant. Sandoval, who started cooking in his Grandmother’s kitchen, is known for opening restaurants around the world by using authentic Latin ingredients to create innovative menus with influences from coastal Mexican, Latin-Asian, Peruvian and Pan-Latin cuisines. When the casual bar opened in 2012, Chef Lucero Martinez created Pampano’s small plates to complement the sangrias.
The evening celebrating the launch of Pampano’s 10 Year Anniversary Menu started with a tasting of classic empanadas, followed by Chicharron De Camarons, a dish of rock shrimp, coconut-guajilla sauce and avocado vinaigrette. Although the crowd waited for lobster tacos, the fish tacos surprisingly became my favorite dish. I temporarily threw out my ‘no-pork’ rule to try their beautiful Cazuelitas de Chilorio, a plantain cup filled with black bean puree, adobo pulled pork and topped with guacamole.
In the middle of the evening, Mr. Domingo arrived to take pictures with Chef Sandoval, guests and staff. Along with the long-term and recently hired staff’s quiet smiles, cameras flashed throughout the evening on an unusually warm day. Cheers to Pampano’s 10 Year Anniversary’s Tasting Menu.