Game Changer… Pampano by Richard Sandoval
About eight years ago I met a friend for dinner. She was working in the Upper East Side at the time, so we decided on a restaurant close by her office, Pampano, based only on outside aesthetics and a quick skim of the menu. What we sat down to was one of the most delicious, delicate and thoughtful Mexican meals I’d had until that day. Named after a fish, the menu holds true to its concept with an array of coastal Mexican cuisine. Seafood and fish reign the menu with sparse options of other proteins. But don’t worry, those selections do not disappoint.
That evening I devoured mini lobster tacos with black beans. The beans were cleverly pureed and thinly spread in between two warm mini corn tortillas, as not to distract from the perfectly cooked lobster, kissed with a chile de arbol salsa. Thankfully, all of these years later, it’s still on the menu. I’ve returned to that restaurant many times since and after each meal, I feel inspired to get back to my kitchen to try and replicate the flavors of Chef Richard Sandoval. I’ve been to many amazing Mexican and Latin restaurants, but eight years ago, that meal opened my mind to the finesse of that cuisine. It was a game changer.
Most recently, dining at Pampano with my same friend from the first visit, we shared a small bite to hold us over for a few hours: smoked swordfish dip, expertly whipped to create smoothness but with enough bite to hold on to the natural meatiness of the fish. Mixed with tomato, onions, cilantro, and pickled jalapeno, served with tortilla chips, the dish is a perfect balance of flavor and texture. I was so tempted to lick the bowl. But you just can’t do that sort of thing when in the Upper East Side.Pampano by Richard Sandoval 209 East 49th Street New York, NY 10017 (212) 751-4545 richardsandoval.com/pampano