Anyone who has lived in NY, even for the briefest amount of time, knows what it is like to suddenly lose one of your favorite neighborhood restaurants. The closing of such a restaurant isn't just about being deprived of a favorite dish, the type of dish that you rely on to revive your spirits after you've slogged through a nightmarish commute only to find out that your asshat coworkers still haven't figured out the finer nuances of the TPS reports necessitating that you remain long into the night rectifying their errors. The destruction of neighborhood institutions is about the depletion of gathering places where locals foster a feeling of community, feeding both the spirit and the identity of the hood itself. Jeremiah's Vanish New York blog is dedicated to preserving the memories of these institutions before they vanish. His project seems particularly relevant since I live near 86th st where 3 large high rises currently under construction, have forced many small local businesses to relocate or simply to close up.

Panorama was one of my favorite haunts. The bartender was generous with the wine. The staff were always welcoming and willing to humor me if I wanted to sit outside for hours on end drinking a few glasses of wine and chatting with friends on a particularly warm night. On nights when I was too tired to cook, I would stop by and dine at the bar. One of the other neighborhood regulars who also often dined there recommended that I take French classes at the Alliance Francaise, where I am currently enrolled. The food was filling, but it was the hospitality and the ambiance of the place that it made it a favorite of mine.

When Panorama closed, however, it hurt more than I anticipated.But as I teach my business writing students, a good business man can turn any set back and make it into a golden opportunity. Panorama has returned better than before.

Panorama's wine expert, Rodger Parsons, is a friend of mine and when he informed that not only was Panorama open, but had a new and exiting wine list, I thought "What better way to celebrate the return of this restaurant than to invite two of my bestest girl friends, who also happen to know food and I mean know food, to taste and write about the new Panorama?"

Those familiar with the old Panorama will be pleased to see their favorite dishes have returned. My personal favorite was the Rigatoni al Salsiccie particularly on cold winter nights and the crisp Caesar salad with chicken in the summer. But the menu has expanded featuring some of the interesting new salads, like Sfiziosa salad with granny smith apples and sweet gorgonzola cheese, which may tempt you from standards like crispy fried calamari. The menu now also features homemade pastas. And all of these dishes are served at more than reasonable prices.

Bakerina, Julie and I decided for our dinner we would each get a starter to share. I ordered the Gamberetti al Forno, pan roasted shrimp in a thick roasted garlic sauce. Tasty, but best avoided if on a date. Bakerina ordered one of the special salads made of mixed greens, orange and grapefruit sections, toasted almonds and dressed with a strawberry vinaigrette. Julie opted for an old favorite, the calamari. Calamari has long been a favorite of mine, and Panorama's is fried to perfection rather than overly breaded or even worse chewy beyond belief. The starters were quickly devoured leaving us hungry for more.

For main courses, I ordered one of the specials a paglia y fieno-green and white pasta in a creamy sauce with peas and proscuitto. Not good for a diet, but definitely worth an extra hour or two on the treadmill. Bakerina also ordered a special-spaghetti served with a meaty ragu. Julie ordered the lobster ravioli, but made a special request: serve it with the cardinale sauce composed of white wine garlic, sherry tomatoes, asparagus and shrimp. The kitchen was only too happy to oblige, so diners with demanding palates take note.

But of all the improvements, none is more impressive than the wine list, which features some spectacular wines for very affordable prices. I began the meal with a glass of Cabernet Sauvignon from the Rutherford Ranch Mourvedre - a fruity, but spicy wine. Bakerina chose a Pinot Noir from Rodney Strong-a red that seems versatile enough for almost any pairing. Julie selected a Viognier which she found "Scented and fruit-forward, but still crisp." She dubbed it perfect for a spring evening. If you are looking for a more romantic white wine-a glass of Gewurztraminer is what you need. This wine has a heavy floral bouquet and tastes of honey. Perfect for a romantic date. Despite the fact that I don't like white wines, I find myself looking for excuses to order this one.

So we found ourselves at the end of the meal, laughing and too full for dessert and promising to come back often. So if you find yourself ravenous for food or maybe just a nice glass of wine after an afternoon at the Met or a stroll through Central Park-head to Panorama located at 303 East 85th st. Most likely you'll see there testing even more food, for quality assurance purposes of course.
Panorama is currently open for dinner seven days a week, and brunch on the weekends.

(212) 288-6868
303 East 85th st

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Frehel Diaries: Siren Song
“ loves dries up, I thought
as I walked back to the bathroom, even faster
than sperm.”
the end of a short affair by Charles Bukowski

I wake up at 6 am and immediately start to pack. Or more accurately throw my clothes hurriedly into my bags. The key to this kind of act is that it can’t be a bluff. If he doesn’t stop you, you have to be absolutely sure you can pull that bag down stairs and demand a cab to a train to Paris. Sure you can hope that he will stop you, but the one thing you can not do, under any circumstances, is finish packing and then burst into tears and plead with him to change his mind. No, this can not be an empty threat and no you can't show weakness. You've got to completely turn the tables. He'll expect begging, give him demands.

About half my stuff is thrown into the suitcase before he stops me. All he has to do is throw me on the bed and make love to me-insane and passionate. It’s so simple, it’s so fucking french how can he miss it? But what does he do? He hugs me. He HUGS me. Dear sweet baby jesus I’ve come all this way suffered the slings and arrows of French Plumbing to be disappointed by men on both side of the Atlantic?

I waxed for this man. I got a freakin' for Brazilian for this?!

And it is in this moment that all my darkest suspicions about the universe, that there is not even the pretense of anything vaguely resembling justice, that you can make the same damn epic mistake again and again, that no matter what the fuck I do for these idiot men I will never, ever be good enough for even though they should be thanking whatever deities they pray to for my interest.

I shake him off and try to continue to pack. He does, indeed, want me to stay, to at least talk. I tell him that I want to be alone, not to be Sarah Bernhardt , not to be a drama queen but because I don't want to be with anyone else. It is what I really want. If I can’t return to Paris, I want some other familiar solace. To sit and read and think alone. To nurse my wounds in private. Not to be constantly trailing behind this assclown and his daughter pretending all the while that I'm fine. If I can’t have him, I want to be with anyone.

No twilight, no gray area.

One would think that he would be in the mood to give me what little peace he can, but no. He insists on taking me to coffee so we can talk. What's the point? We can't understand each other. What kind of discussion does he think we are going to have. I go with him and sit in the sun, tears streaming out from under my sunglasses. I tell him it's better this way-for my studies, for my life. He doesn't apologize, but he does insist that he wants me to stay. He wants me to stay for the sun and the sand and the water. Such french fucking conceit. Like I had to come all this way to go to the beach. Christ I could have to gone to Cancun and picked myself some cute little cabana boy. After all they love me in Mexico and Jamaica. And I wouldn't have to deal with trailing behind a nine year old prima donna or being abandoned for hours.

Finally, he drops me off at the hotel. I tell him I want to be alone. First he says he'll leave me until 7 PM, then he amends to 3. This guy left me in a hotel room for hours without dinner only a few nights before, but now he's acting like being without me is some great difficulty. If I was capable of rational thought, I would have been completely baffled. As it was, I was annoyed. I just wanted to be left alone. It seemed that this guy was simply dedicated to the frustration of my desires.

Finally, he says he'll come back for me after lunch and because I want him to go, I agree.

The minute the door is closed I head for my dictionary, throw myself on the bed, and begin the struggle to write a letter, which will communicate to him exactly what kind of fucktard I think he is for doing this to me.

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