331 Broad St. • 337-602-6343
Everybody loves a new restaurant. People flock to the open doors in the beginning days and weeks with some notion that everything is going to be perfect.
In the real-life version of restauranting, everyone needs time to put their plan into play — find out what works and what kinks really need to be ironed out. Your wait team needs time to get their flow going.
Downtown Lake Charles is quickly establishing itself as a destination for food, fun and family entertainment, with its cool vibe and growing public interest, and the Panorama Music House is definitely an added complement. Located in what was once the original Rikenjaks Brewery (in the early 2000s), the much-anticipated Panorama Music House seems like it was made for the location, with the spacious old-city industrial feel of the brick and metal, the smooth wood bars, colorful decor and blended outdoor courtyard.
On most nights, the indoor stage is host to a variety of musical acts, bands and open mic nights. And you’ll likely catch owner Jay Ecker playing on stage, watching over you from high above.
Now that we have a warm, fuzzy feeling about the establishment, let’s get down to the food.
With a storm inching its way toward Lake Charles, a late lunch was still in play for my wife and me. We were promptly greeted with smiling faces and made comfortable as we opted to sit at the bar. We ordered a couple of drinks and started looking over the menus. The soft opening paper menus were nothing more than copy paper renditions, but they had plenty to offer.
After much debate, we opted for the fried cheese curds appetizer for starters. Admit it — a lot of restaurants serve fried cheese of some sort. Whether it’s logs or sticks, or whatever they choose to call it, these items will not compare to the thinly breaded and garlicky morsels we were served.
When it comes to lunch, I’m a sucker for burgers and real fries, and if a restaurant can be judged on its ability to rock it, I’m down.
My burger choice was the namesake Panorama, loaded with flavor and hints of smoky peppers, bacon and pepper jack cheese. All burgers at the venue have double meat, double cheese goodness to give them that bulky burger feel. But they all maintain a balance between the meat and cheese and the accompaniments. The bacon was crisp, the patties were juicy and I was going through the napkins.
My wife chose a chicken sandwich with the description: “Chicken, apple, roasted apples and Brie.” What the heck; our server recommended it.
What a pleasant surprise to see it when it came out. This chicken breast was layered with roasted apples, thinly sliced fresh apple, bacon, arugula, tomato and Brie in a panini sandwich. What? After a little persuasion, she noticed I was staring and I was able to take a couple of bites. It was so fresh and crisp to the taste. In my wife’s words, it’s the best she’s ever had and she hopes they never remove it from the menu.
Overall, Panorama Music House offers up great food and atmosphere for all. There’s a full bar, a large selection of regional and popular beers on tap and it’s always open … almost. It’s family-friendly and pet-friendly; it’s hip; it’s exciting; it’s part of what defines downtown Lake Charles.
Congratulations to Panorama on their upcoming grand opening April 19 through 21.