With the rise of the Gastro Pub, I seem to frequent them more often than Restaurants nowadays, which I suppose is just a sign of the times. However, breaking the mould we recently visited a local but highly popular Mexican Restaurant – Panama Hatty’s, which is located in Spurstow, Cheshire.
As we were early we were ushered to the bar for drinks whilst our table was being prepared. Panama Hatty’s is renowned for its cocktails and many guests were sipping from brightly coloured tall glasses with delight. But something else had caught my eye as on the bar were a range of Gin’s on offer. As a lover of the William Chase Gin’s and the Seville Orange one in particular, I couldn’t pass up the opportunity of a G&T, whilst it was on offer. The bartender poured my gin into a large, bowled wine glass complete with a slice of orange peel and a bottle of Fentiman’s tonic. Andy – my dining partner for the evening also ordered a Gin and tonic, however due to not being able to decide which gin to go for, he asked the bar tender to choose and ended up with a Bombay Saphire and tonic. A little bit of a disappointment due to the selection of Premium Gin’s the bar had on offer, but I suppose that’s the chance you take! Drinks in hand we went to find a seat to wait for our table, and found at the back of the bar area a lovely little snug, complete with a sofa filled with cushions and a few chairs which seemed far from the maddening crowds!
Perusing the menu we deliberated between the selection of starters on offer such as Chicken Thai Bites, Thai fish cakes or Crispy fried squid, there was also a selection of three platters to choose from all offering a lovely selection of nibbles. The mains grabbed our attention the most with fajita’s on offer as well as Burrito’s and Chimichanga’s, the menu also offers a range of steaks and less spicier meals to cater to a range of clientele. Whilst enjoying our drinks the maître d came to take our order and once the food was ready we were led over to our table. The décor caught my eye with a range of dark colours being used throughout as well as different lights adorning the ceiling. The walls were covered with an assortment of mirrors, which drew your eye and complemented the quirky feel to the restaurant.
Once sat down our starter came straight out, we’d plumbed to share the Chicken Thai Bites with Jalapeno Jelly and they did not disappoint! The bites were full of Thai flavours with lime, chilli and what tasted like Thai Basil all tingling my taste buds. I had at first been wary of the Jalapeno Jelly as I’m not a fan of anything too hot, however after taking the plunge I was in love with the jam, which complimented the bites perfectly and just gave them a little added kick! Although we shared a starter normally for one, it was a lovely taster and left us ready for our Main Courses. Andy had chosen the Beef Strip Fajita’s, which came sizzling with cheese, salsa, soured cream and mini tortilla’s to build as you chose. I had a taste of one of the fajitas and they tasted delicious – the beef was lovely and smokey, which went well with the additions of the cream and cheese. I picked the Beef Burrito, which was delicious! A lovely Burrito stuffed with smoky beef and cheese and then smothered with a tangy pureed salsa. Mine too came with soured cream, which complimented the slightly spicy Burrito, I also had a salsa (a little too spicy for me but nice in small doses with the cream) and a tower of Mexican rice and nacho’s! All aspects went together well on the plate and it was lovely to pick and nibble at different things!
Full and content I wasn’t going to have a pudding, however on reading the menu I spotted a warm Chocolate Fudge Cake, which I had to have and it was delightful with gooey chocolate and vanilla ice cream melting nicely over chocolate sponge. Andy chose the Toffee Rocky Mountain, which looked delicious and after scraping the plate clean it certainly went down well!
For two gin and tonic’s, a starter, two main courses, a side of onion rings and two puddings our bill came to £64.50, which I felt it was worth it as the food was delicious! And I would definitely go back again to try another dish off the menu as the variety looked amazing! The gin and tonic’s I did feel were a little over priced with mine costing over £7, however they were big measures so I cannot grumble too much! If I had to be picky one thing I would say that stood out for me was the service. Panama Hatty’s is not a cheap place to eat and it is exceedingly popular, however there is no friendly welcome on arrival and the bar staff had to be asked if we could be served, once asked the bar tender couldn’t recommend any of the gin’s which were on offer and presumably a focal point as they were actually situated on the bar, right in front of the customer. When asked he simply plumbed for a standard gin and never offered any information on it, which having paid over £15 for two drinks I did expect a little better knowledge and service. At the table a lovely lady served us, but most of the staff seemed to be removed from the customers. They brought the food out and took the orders, but they seemed incapable to create a conversation or even really talk to the customers, which made the atmosphere slightly frosty. One couple even walked out before ordering pudding after putting their sign up entitled ‘Desserts please’, it had been ignored for ten minutes so they got up from the table and on walking to the desk to pay the bill they were met by a waitress ready to take their order, who just stood there and didn’t say a word! With no apology for not taking their order sooner or to potentially save the restaurant from loosing their custom, they walked straight past her, paid the bill and left, much to the clear anger of the maître d, who also didn’t do anything to save the situation! This was my only gripe with Panama Hatty’s and something I feel they need to sort out and inject a bit of character in to their staff, however other than that everything was lovely! If you fancy trying Panama Hatty’s for yourself you can visit their website here to book a table and peruse the full menu.
Panama Hatty’s – The Overview
Type of Establisment: Restaurant
Type of cuisine: Mexican
Do you need to book: Yes it is advisable as it gets very busy!
Bill Total: £64.50
Located: Spurstow, Cheshire (On the Whitchurch Road)
Would you visit again: Yes
Child Friendly: Yes, it seemed up to a certain time though
Dog Friendly: No
Any other information: Panama Hatty’s offer an Early Diner’s Menu Monday to Friday from 5pm – 7pm with a set menu, which offers two courses for under £20 or three course for just over £20, perfect if you don’t feel like cooking mid-week! At the entrance there are a couple of steps up to the restaurant, but ramps are available for use and although some parts of the restaurant are elevated there are tables located within access for wheelchair users.