Friday, May 4, 2012

La Panadería del Pablo

The Sunday feria in San Telmo is, in my opinion, one of the very best things in Buenos Aires. Hundreds of artisan tables, thousands of intermingled native and foreign visitors, millions of products and a hefty bunch of street food vendors. But if street artisan and bohemian aren't two words you're fond of when talking about cuisine, La Panadería del Pablo (269 Defensa) is probably what you're looking for. This panadería though, is much more than a bakery. The minimalist modern diner decor, open kitchen, bomb brunch menu and quiet green terrace, make it one of my favorite cafés in the city, and the ideal place to dip out of the feria's madness and relax.
The interior of the restaurant has a mix of tables and booths, including a double-sided, extra-long booth bench with low marble topped tables, which can accommodate 8 on each side. Tables close to the kitchen give you a perfect view of the stove top excitement, black mosaic pizza oven and the window, if you're into that kind of thing. There is diner style decor throughout such as old fashioned napkin holders and red and white gingham table cloths, but also modern elements including low hanging silver lamps which accent the trim of the wooden bar, exposed piping and concrete columns. There is also a beautiful covered terrace out back, which is landscaped with a variety of lush greenery.
The menu has a split personality. There is the traditional café side which offers pastries, desserts, coffees and beverages. There is also a food menu which offers what I would describe as Argentine/American fusion, with offerings that can serve as breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. Some things that I haven't tried, but that sound amazing are bruschetta with salmon, avocado and cream cheese (A$R 45), ensalada griego/greek salad (A$R 55) and cous cous (A$R 40). The hash brown with salchicha is also probably great if you eat pork, porker!
From what I have eaten, I've never eaten bad. The first time I just had medialunas and coffee. Enjoyable as it was, there's not much to say about good medialunas and a legit cafe chiquito. The second was papas bravas (A$R 35) and margarita pizza (A$R 55). This is where the real obsession set in. Papas bravas are potato chunks which are boiled and then fried. You know crunchy and mushy is the best combination. Normally I'm a Heinz addict, but here I didn't even ask for the ketchup. That's because these potatoes are served up with a side of spicy tomato sauce and garlicky-ish aoili with some chopped up green spice (Chives? Do they have those here?) on top. The pizza was piedra style (flat dough) and literally covered in fresh green basil leaves.
The third visit (which was only 5 days after the second), was when I became addicted. This time it was the fishcake with bread to start. I don't know how it happened, but on the second visit I was gypped on the bread, and man do I know now what a rip off it was. Yeah it's a bakery so this should be obvious, but there's a million bakeries with less than stellar bread. This is the bread of bread, the best bread I've eaten in Buenos Aires. It's soft, airy and amazing. The triangle one had a good chewy crust, and the sliced one was pure fluff with just a hint of rosemary (90% sure, could've been a different spice). The fishcake was also quite good, crusty outside and mushy inside (there it is again), made with what to my palate seems to be tuna. It was served with a lime (not a yellow lemon called a lime) and a mayonnaise based (obvio, amigo) aioli . It also came with a side salad of green and purple leaves and purple onions that was dressed with a creamy and tangy vinaigrette.
If all this delish isn't enough for you, here are 5 more reasons why this restaurant is the shit. 
1. The mini grocery wall sells not only their amazing breads, but also other fine food items like olive oil, olives, organic honey and imported coffee and tea.
2. They give you those table hooks to hang your bag.
3. They have an impressive wine selection. Who said vino tinto isn't good for brunch?
4. WiFi
5. They let me sit alone at a table for four because there are no booths for two.

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