Welcome to the newest member of the Palermo Hollywood Nicaragua street café club. Pani (Nicaragua 6044) opened its doors in mid November 2010 and has made quite the impression on local clientele. The outside of this large café can be deceiving – you may think you are walking into a small children’s clothing boutique, with bright pastel colors and striped wallpaper, only to step in the long narrow restaurant that specializes in brunch-ish dishes, merienda, fresh baked goods and pink apron wearing mozos.
This large space seems to be never ending with about five different seating areas, three of which are in the aire libre. Some of the seating areas are less desirable than others, making it a bit cramped on a busy weekend afternoon. Despite the extremely Palermo Hollywood clientele, with patrons putting on their skanky Sunday’s best to eat brunch, the staff is quite friendly and do not possess the attitude that you will find at like-restaurants.
The menu, ranging in the low 30 – mid 40 peso range, offers sandwiches, salads, tartas and merienda/breakfast specials. Combine this with a fully stocked cinnamon roll, muffin, cupcake, scone, cheesecake bakery and enter carbofatty heaven.
Try the El de Lomito sandwich: ciabatta de lomito, mushrooms, camembert cheese, crispy panceta and a homemade alioli served with choice of greens, potatoes or coleslaw (go with the slaw!) or the breakfast special El Turista: orange juice, fresh baked toast with dips (queso crema, mermelada y dulce de leche), scrambled eggs, fruit salad and choice of tea or coffee. If you are into the egg persuasion, choose from a poached, scrambled or omelette with cheese, tomatoes, mushrooms, shallots, panceta or salchica and toast or potatoes.
The only miss of the day was the El de Pollo, a 3 decker “club” styled sandwich containing a sort of chicken salad with dill and herbs, crisp bacon and a fried egg on top. I’m a big fan of the concept, as a runny egg tastes good on pretty much anything, especially crisp, salty bacon. But in this case, the chicken to mayo ratio didn’t work – the chicken taking an almost gelatinous texture was overpowered in a sea of murky mayonnaise. I still ate the whole thing.
Wouldn’t you guess it, the best part of Pani is the pan. Talk about a killer Argie bread basket… this one is filled with warm pan de queso and herbed foccacia. It’s really hard to go wrong with fresh warm bread, straight out of the oven. I’ll be back soon.