Sunday, August 21, 2011

The food scene in Panama City

I have been back in Panama City for 6 years now and maybe I'm spoiled or maybe my standards are too high, but I have a problem with most restaurants here.  Lets face it.  The restaurants at the beach have a philosophy of feeding the masses, and feeding them at a reasonable price.  Quality is not part of the equation.  I have two hard and fast rules that have been true of every buffet I have ever eaten at, which includes a $60.00 a person Champagne brunch in New Orleans and Shoney's breakfast bar.  1.  You will never eat your moneys worth period.  You can't eat $4.99 worth of grits and eggs or $60.00 worth of Champagne and prime rib.  Buffets make money.  2.  When you cook in bulk as apposed to cooking per order the quality looses.  I remember Capt Anderson's when it was small and the food was good.  Now they are feeding hoards of people and as I said, when you cook for the masses, and not per order, the quality will always suffer.  I don't like the noise and I don't like the food.  Angelo's used to be a place where you got a good steak (not a Ruth's Chris) but a decent steak, cooked over real wood.  Now with the size of the restaurant and the size of the crowds, I prefer Outback if I have to have steak out.  Montego Bay's "fresh catch of the day" is Talapia.  Really?  Really?  I guess we haven't shaken that redneck riviera persona yet, despite those new high rise Miami style condos.  The food here has no personality, no style.  The French, Spanish, Native Americans, and the African Slaves have contributed to Cajun and Creole cuisine.  The Spanish inhabited Florida, but when you think of our food it is influenced more by the country cooks of Alabama and Georgia.  You have to travel up hwy 30A to find any inspired food.  In November I ate at Fish out of Water.  What a refreshing experience.  Incredible food prepared by hands who care and a chef with a vision.  Our back yard is the Gulf of Mexico for Gods sake.  We have access to fresh seafood and produce from local growers.  In the right hands this could be awesome.  I guess nobody cares.  Certainly not the tourist.  My mother has had a house on the beach since 1966.  I can't tell you how many times I have had to clean up the beach after a busy day.  I can't tell you how many times people have relieved themselves under her house, used her shower, sat on her deck at night thinking no one was home, or parked in her driveway.  Really?  Do they do that in your hometown?  If you go on the web site the number one fine dinning restaurant in Panama City is Pineapple Wiley's.  Really?  Really?????  Is that where we are.  We will never get our beach back thanks to the money hungry commissioners.  Unless we demand better, we will never get better.  If gambling is brought here we will see more high rise buildings and long buffets.  I shutter at the thought.  Come on people, wake up. 

1 comment:

  1. Good thoughts, Win. The other problem is that if you do find a good restaurant with inspired food, it goes out of business. For some reason this type of place just can't survive in PC. I can't tell you how often I find a favorite place when I'm down visiting mom, and 6 months later when I'm back again it is gone. And forget about finding anything really ethnic. Sigh. Anyway, a very worthy rant today. Your thoughts are spot-on