Restaurant: Pani Recoleta
Location: Vicente López 2056, C1128 ACF, Buenos Aires, Argentina
Opening Hours: Su-W: 10am-10pm, Th-Sa: 10am-12am
Website: Click here
First off, a tour around a cemetery to visit the grave of Eva Peron gives you a surprisingly generous appetite. Happily, nearby the corner of the graveyard stands the rather pleasant Recoleta Mall, which boded well for something quick to hit the spot.
As you can see, there is a McDonalds, which is sometimes just the thing, but not today. I took a walk around the block first before settling on Pani, a bread-based cafe that looked really quite nice.
A lot of effort had been made with the colourful interior design. There were tables for 2s and 4s and a communal table in the centre, which is a feature of many restaurants in Argentina that I really like!
Service in Buenos Aires restaurants can be rather problematic. Here it was a chore for everyone concerned. I doubt that any service job is easy, to which my own teenage years with a hotel job can attest. I did come close to leaving after a 20 minute wait with my hand gently raised.
A basket of bread came in its charming tin bowl. These were in really interesting shapes and a range of textures. Let’s start with the good. At the bottom was what I call ‘cheesy ball’ bread and I’m sure there’s a much better term (a search shows the term ‘chipas’ might be right – do please comment if you know). These were delicious, as were the cheese sticks. Despite the interesting shapes, the bread on top was not fully cooked and the dough was raw in places. I don’t think that’s good enough.
The accompanying dip was sharp and unctuous at the same time, so that is a plus point.
I did appreciate the dark and mysterious interior which looked like it could have come from a movie set in the 19th century.
In due course, the food arrived. I had ordered a chicken sandwich. It arrived with an unexpected side of potato wedges (never a bad thing).
The sandwich or burger-style bread looks adorable and fluffy, like an Argentinian version of a bao bun, but it did not taste good. It was damp, underbaked and ‘clingy’, sticking to the teeth. What had been promised was a brioche roll. If this is what everyone expects at Pani, then fine, I am willing to be the outlier. There are few bread rolls that I will not enjoy. This had to be removed. There was a plus side: the chicken coating was crunchy and well-seasoned.
It’s ironic that the best thing about a bread cafe is everything which isn’t bread. Service was dreadful. I wouldn’t bother throwing my Buenos Aires travel budget at this one.
Disclaimer: I visited in 2017, so it’s possible that service and bread-preparation has improved greatly since then.