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“Quaint Place with Excellent Food” 5 of 5 stars
Review of Riesen

Riesen
Calle D, El Cangrejo, Frente al Hotel Toscana Inn, Panama City, Panama
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Ranked #14 of 530 Restaurants in Panama City
Cuisines: International
Restaurant details
Panama City, Panama
Senior Reviewer
10 reviews 10 reviews
8 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
7 helpful votes 7 helpful votes
“Quaint Place with Excellent Food”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed October 30, 2013

Grandmother (of the young chef who is namesake) greeted us at the door and sat us down. Server staff was attentive, pleasant and fulfilling all evening. Chilean merlot was smooth on palate Food was fresh, unique and very tasty.

We had mesclum salad, squash soup, pan-seared snapper, shredded hen & chorizo pasta - all finished off with coconut crème brulee.

We had a minor incident of small strip of plastic in crème brulee and the chef personally came out to our table, apologized, had traced what caused it and explained it to us and provided us with complimentary 12-year rum infused ice cream.

  • Visited October 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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48 reviews from our community

Visitor rating
    30
    14
    1
    3
    0
Rating summary
    Food
    Service
    Value
    Atmosphere
Date | Rating
  • English first
  • Italian first
  • Portuguese first
  • Spanish first
  • Any
English first
Wilmslow, United Kingdom
Reviewer
4 reviews 4 reviews
Reviews in 4 cities Reviews in 4 cities
10 helpful votes 10 helpful votes
“Panamanian gem!”
5 of 5 stars Reviewed August 18, 2013

Small things come in good packages - Riesen is a small restaurant, located in a small side street and the menu has fewer than six options per course (always, for me, a sign that things are likely to be good!). In contrast, the portions are, thankfully, not huge but ARE big on innovation and taste.

The complimentary mojito made with hierbebuena was better than 95% of mojitos I have had elsewhere (and there have been a few), and a lovely touch. Three of us tried out the hojandras, salad, beef and squid with pasta. All were duly polished off, with enough room for some of their homemade ice cream: rum and mango. Nom!!

Grandma, described by other reviewers, did come and thank us for coming and was nothing other than delightful. Obviously very proud of her grandson the chef and rightly so. This is one young man who, on the evidence of my experience here, deserves to go far beyond this small venue.

  • Visited August 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 4 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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Panama City, Panama
Top Contributor
90 reviews 90 reviews
54 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 31 cities Reviews in 31 cities
78 helpful votes 78 helpful votes
“Very good, family style restaurant”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed August 7, 2013

This is a good, moderately priced family-style gourmet restaurant. What they offer is good, although it is a simple offering, not high priced gourmet restaurant fare. If you are looking to eat well in a simple ambiance, this is your place. We certainly enjoyed everything we had. The menu could be enlarged -- perhaps a different fish dish could be added - after all tilapia is not what everybody likes and Panama is famous for its fresh fish. But everything At Riesen's is nicely presented and tasty. You cannot go wrong at Riesen. Small dining room, so best call for reservations. Open on Sundays, which is good.

  • Visited August 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 3 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 3 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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Panama City
Top Contributor
132 reviews 132 reviews
99 restaurant reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
64 helpful votes 64 helpful votes
“Yummy food I never want to have again”
2 of 5 stars Reviewed June 25, 2013

This was probably one of the most aggravating meals I've had since I paid $800 at a 2 Michelin star restaurant (for food that I could have gotten from a food truck). It seems clear that they understand flavors at Riesen, but there is a disconnect between portion size, value, and how to treat a customer.

When you first look at the menu, the prices seem quite reasonable and the selection is small, but good. We started off with smoked clams and pulled pork on hojaldre (Panamanian deep fried flat bread). The holjaldre weren't really crispy enough to support the sauce and the pork was a little mushy, but the flavors were quite tasty. The clam dish (served in a small onion soup bowl) was about 1/2 full, and of the 19 measly clams we received 10 were still closed and inedible! So...for $8 we got 9 little clams IN TOTAL, that is almost a dollar per clam! When we spoke to the grandmother (who helps run the place), she seemed almost annoyed that we would say something. After we again explained that I only had 5 clams and my husband had 4, she offered to bring us a new order, which we declined.

Shortly after our mains arrived. My husband had their version of carbonara (which was made with chorizo and quail eggs) and I had sous vide fillet. His pasta was delicious (although there was some uncooked egg white in it). My beef was tasty, but served lukewarm. Plus they gave me the smallest amount of sauce I've ever seen, it wasn't even enough for the 6 little pieces of meat. The rice and beans it comes with was delicious. Such a disappointment considering the sauce was yummy, but I only got a tiny sample of it. The meat was cooked well, but would have been better hot.

We ordered drinks, however once again, they only served us a little less than half portions. Seriously, my little glass of vodka tonic was less than half full.

We asked for the cheque and the grandmother brought us a full bowl of clams and she proceeded to show us that they were all open. There was no chance we were eating this after the mains, plus we had already declined them. If you want to make something up to someone at the end of a meal, perhaps it would be more appropriate to offer dessert or coffee. I mean, who wants to eat more clams after the entire meal. She insisted we eat them, which we didn't. We felt they should have cooked them properly the first time, not bring them at the end to prove to us that they know how to cook clams. So offensive, do it right the first time!

The portions were bizarrely small in some cases and they don't know how to pour simple drinks. All in all, the flavors were good, but I'd never, ever go back there.

  • Visited June 2013
    • 2 of 5 stars Value
    • 1 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 1 of 5 stars Service
    • 3 of 5 stars Food
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San Francisco, California
Senior Contributor
24 reviews 24 reviews
Reviews in 22 cities Reviews in 22 cities
32 helpful votes 32 helpful votes
“One of the best restaurants in Panama”
4 of 5 stars Reviewed June 19, 2013

Riesen is one of the best Panamenian food restaurants in the city...the ambiance is very private and intimate, but it is complemented by the restaurant's lively host; grandma'.
The food is very good...gourmet style... the portions are small (by American standards), but a three course should fill you up.

The presentation of the food speaks to the chef's level of education and preparation. The menu is small, but very classy and tasty. The only comment is the tilapia on the menu...for a restaurant in Panama, I expected a higher quality fish. If you are from the USA, tilapia in a menu is normal...but in a country with two oceans and affordable and accessible seafood, it seems like a lazy move.

The yuca churros are amazing...it is an eye/mouth conflict....your eyes tell you to expect a sweet taste, but then you taste the perfectly cooked yuca. The spare ribs and steak are cooked to perfection...and the sauces, all of them, are top notch.

Riesen proudly and skillfully puts together authentic Panamanian flavors. The price quality ratio is perfect. Go and experience true gimick-less (not a tourist trap) Panamanian food

  • Visited June 2013
    • 5 of 5 stars Value
    • 5 of 5 stars Atmosphere
    • 5 of 5 stars Service
    • 5 of 5 stars Food
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