Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Dinner in Tivoli c/o Panzur

After enjoying the afternoon and early evening down by the river, I departed the Inn(ski) and walked the half mile or so up to Tivoli's small business district along Broadway. There I met up with L., a former professor, for dinner at Panzur. Panzur is a relatively new establishment in the neighborhood. Its building has hosted a series of restaurants since before my time in the area, the most memorable and sorely missed being Cafe Pongo. I thought it proper to start the meal with a glass of bubbly. And oh how it sparkle bubbled.
After our handsome waiter told us a little bit about the specials, the chef, and the restaurant itself, we got down to the nitty gritty of figuring out what to enjoy. L's appetite wasn't quite as limitless as my own, but I think that we managed to put together a series of dishes that she could enjoy. This series started with a selection of olives and and peppers. Nice and brined. I still wonder what olives taste like before they're cured. Anybody know? Inedible? The peppers that also accompanied the olives were particularly delightful to me.
Next up a very generous plate of jamon. I think it was of the serrano variety. At $13 or $14 this was actually a good deal. I think. I had expected a rather minimal amount of meat, but this was really a plate overflowing with fatty cured meat, which in fact had been sliced fresh at the jamon etc. table along the back of the restaurant's main room, right below its chalkboard of specials. We also ordered a Valdeon blue cheese, which came with slice of baguette.
I was drawn to two specials that evening. The first lobster glazed pork belly with a poached oyster and arugula salad. The belly was succulent and its glaze a nice addition. I don't know what I expected from the oyster, but I was a bit taken back by the fact that it was 100% cold, but cooked. I think. It was kind of confusing in my mouth, part of me liked the taste, but the temperature and texture weirded me out slightly. And you know I love oysters, so it's not a matter of being unfamiliar with their 'milieu.'
The other special that caught my fancy were these foie gras croquette type things. A crispy shell contained a rather 'molten' foie gras inside. Like liquid foie gras cut with something, but I wasn't quite sure what. I liked this very much, especially my first bite as it was still piping hot.
We did the ultimate of splurges and ordered their dessert cocktail, which was a mix of sherry from 1985, two or three other liqueurs and topped with a slice of baguette spread liberally with a salty caramel sauce. At $15, it was an order of some largesse and perhaps failed a bit under the expectations and weight that price tag can lend to its intended ware.
The next morning, which I'll get to soon enough, M. the Baker asked me what I thought about the restaurant and its prices. Having come from Philly, the prices didn't shock me too terribly, though if I were to really think about my time in the area, I do acknowledge that their price points may make business a struggle. Not every dish was off the charts, but it was clear that there was a knowledgeable and creative chef in the back, one who may very well be having a lot of fun and he tries out new dishes. I would go back for the cured meat alone, and perhaps try one or two other of the hot tapas options. It was great to see L., whom I had last seen this past summer when I stopped by for a job interview that went nowhere. We caught up about our shared acquaintances as well as the goings-on in our own lives and have a pleasant time doing so.

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