Established in 1673, Casco Viejo is the historical heart of Panama City. Churches, plazas, crumbling houses and restored buildings turned boutique hotels share space in a very noticeable rapid transformation since my first visit in 2004. A decade ago I contemplated buying real estate in Casco Viejo falling in love with the architecture and history of the neighborhood. I am kicking myself for not following through as it is not surprise that so many other people saw what a beautiful area it is. I just hope all the families living there will be able to stay in their homes.
The Palm Garden in the back is situated against an original fortress wall and the other side is the Secret Garden and private dining space.
Las Clementinas has a casual elegance with high ceilings, intricate tile floor and pale yellow wallpaper covered in old newspaper clippings. The rustic wooden tables with peeling paint adds a bit of charm.
The service is excellent and the food is house made with produce coming from their garden and fish from the market about a half a mile away that comes in daily.
Of the many ceviches I had in Panama the corvina with passion fruit (maracuyá) and micro cilantro was the best. The acidity of lime, salt and sweetness of the passion fruit was a magical combination that melted in my mouth.
I am a huge fan of quinoa and lentils so I happy to find both in one dish. I stuck with fish and had the Corvina over warm salad of quinoa, Pardina lentils and walnut sauce. The mild slightly sweet tasting fish was cooked perfectly and paired well with the heartiness of the lentils and richness of the walnut sauce. I was a member of the Clean Plate Club.
A generous portion of grilled thick cut pork chop was served with roasted squash and uchuva chutney. Uchuvas resemble yellow cherry tomatoes and are similar in texture but have more of a sweet tart flavor.