My last visit to Panacea was nearly two years ago, and based on what I wrote at the time, the group had quite a good experience. While I had been there for a normal tapas meal, I was curious to see what they were like as part of the Festival of Food deal. For $29.50, from Monday to Thursday, customers can experience their entree tasting plate, a main of their choice (or pay the difference for a menu main that is over $31.50), and their house made petits fours.
The Entree Tasting Plate arrived 10 minutes after ordering and was nicely presented. From bottom, moving anti-clockwise and then ending in the centre, the dishes were Half Shell Scallops, Slow Cooked Pork Belly, Fritoles Ricotta Zucchini and Lemon Thyme Dumplings, Olives and Rosemary and Sea Salt Schiacciata.
The Half Shell Scallops were wrapped in a Jamon Serrano and baked in chilli butter. The Jamon Serrano, literally translated means “ham from the Sierra” and is a dry cured Spanish ham. While part of the curing process involves covering the meat in salt, the ham in this dish tasted like the salt had never been removed. It was so salty, it was almost inedible. The scallops themselves were moist and juicy and the chilli butter lacked heat.
The Slow Cooked Pork Belly came with a sour citrus and prune compote. The pork belly was my favourite item on the plate. The meat was fairly lean and tender, and the crispy pork skin was perfectly crunchy. The compote tasted like some form of caramelised onion jam, and it complemented the pork well.
The Fritole Ricotta Zucchini and Lemon Thyme Dumplings didn’t look very appealing. Inside the lightly crisp exterior was a ricotta filling that was dry and bland. The menu indicated that this was supposed to come with a relish, which was what was missing in order to complete it.
The Olives came in various sizes and were prepared in their spice and herb marinade. The olive that I had was smooth and mellow with notes of fruitiness. It was fresh and delicious, and I could eat them by the jar full.
The Rosemary and Sea Salt Schiacciata was freshly baked and had a nice crisp exterior. The sea salt was over applied, and again, it was almost inedible.
For the main, I had the Lamb Skewers that came with roasted beetroot, lentils, almond, mint and sultana gremolata.
The lamb was well marinated, and for the most part, the meat was tender and succulent. There were a few morsels that were slightly overcooked. The beetroot had a subtle sweetness and the almonds added a nice crunchy texture. The aromatic sweet flavour of the mint leaves complemented the sweetness of the sultana quite well.
My friend had the Tommy Ruff which came with fried potato, feta cake, tzatziki and salad.
The fish was char grilled and the flesh was soft and moist. The part that was full of flavour was the skin, however, it wasn’t scaled properly and therefore became difficult to eat. The sides that came with the dish were rather pedestrian with the exception of the tzatziki.
We told the waitress about the issues with this dish and were then offered a complimentary dessert.
The complimentary dessert was the Creme Caramel which is supposed to come with a house made biscotti. Fortunately, it didn’t need it. The custard had a soft silky texture and the taste was smooth, rich and creamy. The caramel sauce was sweet and tantalising, and worked in harmony with the custard. It was fantastic and I could have had another.
The Mini Churros came with a dark chocolate dipping sauce. The churros were freshly fried and were piping hot when arriving at the table, so much so, you could see the oil residue on the plate. The exterior was firm and crisp, while the centre was light and fluffy. The churros were completely coated in a cinnamon sugar mixture, which in my opinion, was rather excessive.
When we arrived, my friend told me she was on a new diet which involved limiting the amount of carbohydrates that she could eat. We notified the waitress of this and she began to tell us that their website specifies that they should be notified of any special dietary requirements when participating in the Festival of Food offer. We then received a stern lecture about how they couldn’t properly accommodate us. While I see the logic in them being informed, we were able to confirm that their website states no such thing.
Apart from that, the service wasn’t too bad for the evening. Drinks arrived promptly, meals arrived on time, and plates and cutlery were cleared after each course. Our table water wasn’t refilled until we asked, which indicated they weren’t paying us too much attention. The atmosphere was somewhat relaxed with the lighting dimmed to set the mood for a pleasant evening.
Verdict: Not quite the same pleasant experience I had nearly two years ago.
WHERE: 72-74 Halifax St, Adelaide