Restaurant Review: Panorama Café

Panorama Café
84-73 Parsons Boulevard
(between 85th Avenue and 84th Drive)
Briarwood, Queens

Vegiboys Rating (3/4)

The final leg of our journey through the restaurant world of Sri Chinmoy brought us to Panorama Café. In fitting with the pattern experienced throughout our journey, this venue was unlike any of the others; each of the sect’s restaurants fill a very particular dining niche. Panorama’s niche is that of a hip café.

The interior design bears the least similarity to the other restaurants. The paint scheme uses warmer colors rather than following the cool, calm sky blues found at all of the others, a change that gives the space some additional vibrancy. The space is also the most electically decorated. A piano, a faux-fireplace, and the walls all are adorned with a variety of kitsch, much of it only indirectly (or not at all) promoting Mr. Chinmoy. Instead one wall shows off the many Guinness World Records achieved at the restaurant by sect member Ashrita Furman. Some of the décor displays Sri’s work in a far more subtle way than the other restaurants (as a case in point, the TV in this venue is the only one not to broadcast video loops of Sri’s athetlic feats; it loops through unattributed poetry instead).

The staff fit the space perfectly. The two laid-back fedora-wearing employees merged well with the lounge-like atmosphere. A long counter divides the space into a dining area at the front of the restaurant, and a smaller, but more relaxed area to the back of the restaurant (with couches and easy chairs for some table seating).

We began our weekend breakfast there with two tall smoothies; one with banana and the other with a variety of berries. Both had been made very simply, just blending the fruit with milk with nothing else added.

Before our meal arrived, we were treated to a sampling of their rugelach, which was impeccably delicious. Cinammony, buttery, warm, soft: there was no fault to be found in it, and made us curious as to the quality of their other baked goods.

We had gone for a proper breakfast though, which we unfortunately found to lack the same soul as the pastry. The dishes were incredibly mundane, which surprised us considerably given the inordinate amount of time they took to arrive.

Both plates were colorless slabs of brown and white. Brian’s “ham” and cheese croissant was dry, with the contents of the sandwich dwarfed by the surrounding bread. There was little flavor to anything; even the croissant was bland (more butter could have helped significantly).

My breakfast burrito was also dry and disappointing. The primary filling was rice, and there was no attempt to spice up the interior. The wrap itself was cold and slightly chewy; it tasted like it had come directly from a supermarket store shelf.

Still, at $12 each, Panorama provided a good bargain for the quantity of food we received. Treat the venue more like a coffee house (and less like a restaurant) and the experience may be stronger; the space is fun, the bakery selection is great (and tasty based on our sampling of the rugelach), and the staff help to foster a low-key, welcoming atmosphere.

Food (2.5/4)

Atmosphere & Service

Value (3.5/4)

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