It’s hard not to break into a smile when you walk into Panamericana.
Its clifftop location seems to have sprinkled the restaurant with fairy dust. The surrounding murky waters of Sentosa almost appear sapphire-blue. Sunlight seems to sparkle on its ivory exteriors and casts a golden glow over its beautiful and glamourous diners.
Walking down to The Lawn at Panamericana is an experience in itself. A large tent, ala those at glamping sites, is now a permanent fixture. Lightbulbs are strung along its edges. The mishmash of rattan furniture, multi-coloured chairs and panoramic views bring to mind outdoor festivals and popular restaurants in Bali.
David, the restaurant’s manager, is an excellent host despite the Saturday rush, maintaining banter and anticipating our needs without them being said. To start the evening off right, he brings over a drink dispenser brimming with the summery Special Pimm’s Cup. Good for six, the warm weather tipple hits the spot with its refreshing mix of fruits and ice-cold liquor.
At The Lawn, the menu is a showcase of North, Central and South American cuisine. Chef Eugene Chan has put together a lineup of farm-to-fire food of grilled, roasted and charred premium meats and seafood.
We start with the Anchovies and Boquerones. Here, the morsels of slender fish and roasted peppers bathed in olive oil are mopped up with sourdough bread, which offer the perfect balance of crust and fluff. The chunks of papaya that top the accompanying dish of Peruvian Ceviche offer sweetness; an unexpected combination with Japanese amberjack fish, doused in coconut milk and a mild chilli.
We have the perfectly Charred Octopus Tentacles next. Fork tender, its smokiness complements the rich nuttiness of the parsnip puree. The Wild-Caught Green Tiger Prawns easily become the table’s favourite. The Brazillian vatapa sauce, laced with turmeric and coconut milk, is a flavour-packed platter amplified by the meaty flesh of the prawns and the umami essence oozing from the heads.
At this point, the sun begins to set and the real charm of Panamericana kicks in. Latin music plays. The golden sun burns red as it disappears before the horizon, turning the sky a deep shade of purple with gilded swirls. The atmosphere is remarkably relaxed, and, just for an evening, we forget the threat of Covid and the dread of this endless purgatory.
We settle into mains of the Colombian Chicken, served with a chilli glaze and a piquant salsa roja picante. The Lamb Al-Asador has been marinated in chilli, thyme, rosemary and garlic and wood-fired for seven hours. It is ridiculously tender and only mildly gamey. Surprise dishes from the chef arrive. The California is a creamy salad of romaine lettuce with a pistachio emulsion and queso fresco with chopped pistachios for crunch. A large Smoked Turbot also makes an appearance. Its clean flavours offer a respite from the punchy, spice-heavy dishes all around.
Dinner ends with an array of sweets. The Churros with Arequipe (a type of dulce de leche, or caramelised milk) go quick. Popsicles Two-Ways delight. Here, milk chocolate mousse with a yuzu cremeux and dark chocolate is encased in an almond shell. A riff on piña colada takes shape in a white coconut shell filled with coconut mousse and pineapple custard, and spritzed with rum at the table.
But it’s the other two that captivate. The PanAm Cotta is layers upon layers of flavours. Panna cotta with mango coulis and mixed berries with salted caramel crunch and mint is all at once salty, sour, creamy, crunchy and sweet. We also have the refreshing Romeo and Juliet with cheese custard, pink guava and sago. Again, it’s an unexpected delight – much like The Lawn at Panamericana.
All images are courtesy of Panamericana
The Lawn at Panamericana, 27 Bukit Manis Road, Sentosa Golf Club, Singapore 099892
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