Panama has few original dishes, so the new wave of chefs is adapting regional products to global trends. On this trip, we discovered the excellent Madrigal in the Casco Viejo. Michelin-starred chef Andrés Madrigal is at the helm, and his Spanish-Mediterranean menu is made almost entirely with local ingredients and changes daily. His talent for combining unexpected textures, aromas and flavors makes for an epicurean adventure.
The dining room, with its original stone walls brightened by colorful contemporary artwork, is a delightful setting in which to appreciate the highly recommended three-course lunch tasting menu. I began with sautéed octopus with a red mojo glaze (a classic spicy sauce from the Canary Islands featuring cumin, paprika and picona peppers). The main course of cannelloni stuffed with ropa vieja (traditional stewed beef) was outstanding, as was a fresh white fish in a bouillabaisse-inspired marinara sauce with stewed clams. The coffee mousse-like cream accompanied by a scoop of fior di latte ice cream and dark chocolate cookie crumble provided an indulgent finish.