Tucked away below Agent Provocateur on upmarket King Street is Panama Hatty’s, an independent chain with three locations throughout the North West. Their proud boast is “There is something for everyone on Panama Hatty’s menu”. We asked Jemima Forbes to investigate.
Panama Hatty’s is ‘an independently-owned restaurant that prides itself on style, great value-for-money, fresh food, exciting cocktails & beers and attentive service.’ It’s a subterranean establishment at the top end of the ever-evolving King Street, so you’d be forgiven for walking right by.
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Once you get down the unassuming stairway entrance, the comfortable and stylish interiors, cosy atmosphere, subtle lighting and friendly staff make Panama Hatty’s a perfect place to escape from the cold and sample a menu with a predominantly Latin American theme and some Asian and European influences thrown in for good measureand an original cocktail or two.
Deciding against the set menu (which was actually great value at £13.95 for two courses) and after much deliberation, we opted to try the fresh Seafood Pate and the Crunchy Chicken as starters. As a lover of seafood and fish, I was impressed by the subtle seasoning of the crab and prawn pate wrapped in smoked salmon and found it easy to eat off the crostini bread. But it was the heavenly Crunchy Chicken with its Asian influences that was my favourite dish of the entire meal. Comprising seasoned minced chicken balls in crispy breadcrumbs, fresh basil leaves for rolling and a full flavoured jalapeno dipping sauce, it was certainly a dish to remember and gave the main courses a lot to live up to.
Delicious and healthy dishes of good proportions, the starters were perfect a precursor to our rich and flavoursome main course choices of Slow Roasted BBQ Ribs and Spicy Chicken Papousas. While ribs are often a messy choice of dish and can sometimes come under flavoured, Panama Hatty’s slow roasted version was perfectly tender. The meat effortlessly fell off the bone with no need for using fingers. The sticky BBQ sauce was tangy and tasty and we opted for the homemade sweet potato fries as a side, a lovely and healthy alternative to the regular potato option.
The Latin-influenced dish of Spicy Chicken Papousas consisted of a chicken breast fillet marinated in smoked chipotle sauce wrapped inside a flour tortilla and topped with melted mozzarella. While a fan of spicy food on occasion, I opted to have less of the chipotle marinade to ensure I could taste every single flavour in the dish. The sweet and sour taste of the sauce was the perfect accompaniment to the ample helping of melted mozzarella and the Latina rice. The sour cream and guacamole sides helped balance out the overall richness of the dish.
While these selections were perfection, there are many other options to choose ranging from juicy hand-crafted burgers, sumptuous steaks, titillating Mexican and Latina favourites as well as a selection of carefully selected specials from varying cuisines. And if you can’t make up your mind, why not visit again and try out a completely different dish to excite your taste buds? The Panama Hatty’s menu is diverse without being impersonal and certainly a far cry from being dull and unoriginal.
I am often put off by menus with dishes from multiple countries as it is rare that restaurants successfully manage to pull it off without some dishes becoming sub-standard. Panama Hatty’s, however, got it spot on and each dish I tasted was as good as the last despite their differences.
I rarely opt for dessert at lunch time (although the Toffee Rocky Mountain was tempting) so decided to try one of Panama Hatty’s innovative cocktails from their extensive international drinks menu. With lots to choose from and all strongly alcoholic (no watered down drinks here), the standard cocktails were great value at £6.50 and offered some unique twists on classic favourites. As a Pina Colada is my go to cocktail, I tried the Bailey’s Colada and was impressed. A well made version even without the extra shot, the addition of Bailey’s added further creaminess and a hint of sweetness to the drink. Definitely one to sip slowly! The sophisticated bar area with its soft lighting and elegant décor is the ideal place to hang out with friends or colleagues for an evening tipple or pre-dinner drink but you may have a tough choice deciding which cocktail to try first!
While the flavours in each dish were near faultless and the cocktails divine, I was also impressed by the ample portions, moderately priced menu and friendly service. It was evident that Panama Hatty’s is a restaurant that values customer satisfaction, great service and value for money and I would definitely recommend it to anyone who wants to try eating somewhere a bit different.
Next time you’re searching for an innovative and atmospheric place to dine or just fancy a well made cocktail, keep Panama Hatty’s at the top of your list and you won’t be disappointed. Centrally located and not too loud or busy, this restaurant is a hidden gem within Manchester City Centre and an ideal place for a leisurely lunch, casual dinner date or late afternoon drink.
By the way, if you’re a member of the Panama Hatty’s Diners Club and need some cheering up following the end of the festive period, there is now 50% of food for the whole of January. Or, if you are thinking ahead for Valentine’s Day and want a relaxing and unique experience, Panama Hatty’s Valentine’s Menu is £29.95 and includes two courses and a glass of prosecco.
43A Brown St, Manchester M2 2JJ