The Magic Pan

2006.Dec.02 Saturday · 3 comments

in Restaurants

 I would not give a fig for the simplicity this side of complexity, but I would give my life for the simplicity on the other side of complexity.”

– Oliver Wendell Holmes, Sr., Physician, Poet, Writer

Buenos Aires – Long hair, skin tight jeans, quiana shirts open to the belly button, the Magic Pan. Those are the 70s I remember. My hometown of Ann Arbor had few restaurants that were open all night – mostly coffee shops, and maybe the IHOP, and then came the creperie. Right there in between downtown and the university campus, on the second floor of a shopping mini-mall, they opened a 24/7 Magic Pan serving up dozens of different types of crepes filled with all sorts of fun things. When the bars shutdown at 2 we’d all head there and indulge in things like chicken and spinach crepes in cheese sauce followed by some sort of chocolate and ice cream extravaganza that we’d have to share. The chain was close to nationwide at one point, and then simply disappeared in the early 90s. I hear Richard Melman of the Lettuce Entertain You restaurant group has revived them, more or less, with changes sure to make them into something different than they ever were.

So it is with great pleasure that I can report to you that the Magic Pan still exists, right here in Buenos Aires. It goes by a different name, and it’s not a chain. We were out shopping the calle Murillo leather district – if you don’t know it, it’s a three block strip, with trips onto the side streets, in Villa Crespo, that’s packed with one leather goods shop after another, and some great bargains. Our visiting friend (going on two weeks in the living room) wanted to buy a leather jacket and some souveniers for friends back home. But before we plunged into the world of tanned hides of cow, sheep, and giant water rat (Argentina is famous for the mottled leather from the carpincho, which as far as I’m considered is a giant water rat), we were hungry. We’d done that looking into each place as we walked from the Malabia subway stop thing and one or the other of us rejecting it when I finally said “Enough! We’re going in the next place we see.” I get cranky when I’m hungry.

Lo de Carlitos - crepeAs luck, serendipity, and/or fate would have it, the next spot on the block was Lo de Carlitos, Scalabrini Ortiz 114, which looked like a modern, shiny clean café, with a more or less open kitchen – a young man cooking away behind a large glass window. And there we were, back at the Magic Pan (at least for me), without the faux French country inn decor. Page after page of the menu offered up combinations of panqueques, slightly thicker than a traditional crepe, but nowhere near what we think of as a pancake. You can select from any of the several hundred combinations offered (most of which are named after various Argentine historical figures), or make up your own from any of dozens of ingredients that include different cheeses, vegetables, sausages and cured meats, other meats, eggs… the list goes on. The crepes are quickly cooked to order, and you can watch yours being made should you desire to do so (also various combinations for supremas, hamburgers and lomitos are offered, should you for some bizarre reason want a sandwich rather than a crepe). They’re filled, and served – the table preset with the ubiquitous mayonnaise, mustard, ketchup, and salsa golf bottles. Not necessary, the crepes are just darned good on their own, and worth making the trip even if you don’t need to buy any leather.

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{ 2 comments… read them below or add one }

Frank Almeida December 4, 2006 at 17:05

Dan, actually there are several of these spots. There are also Lo de los Hijos de Carlitos. There my even be Lo de los Primos de Carlitos and any other family member that wants to jump in on the bandwagon. I think they started the first one along the coast somewhere. I am really bad at giving you detail but I can only point you in the general direction.

The other one that you can visit is along Libertador right in front of the Carrefour just on the other side of the General Paz. If you keep going a little ways keep your eyes peeled on the same side of the road and you will come across the Lo de los Hijos de Carlitos.

I think I went to the original one in Villa Gessell I believe. They even opened one up in an enclosed comunity called San Diego but the location was terrible and closed soon along with all the other shops that opened in that “suburb”.

bruce December 14, 2006 at 09:50

It seems that anything Rich Melman touches since Grunts has long lines forming to get in.My friend,barber,customer and one time landlord Jerry Orzoff used his client list from his shop which was made up of the young Movers+Shakers of Chicago to get grunts off the ground and LEYE never saw earth again!Jerry was Melmans first partner.
Rich comes from a restaurant family and I used to eat in their Deli/Rest when I moved to Skokie in the 60s, named after their son,. Mr Rickys.Lots of big time Restranteurs seem to come from the area.The Mortons father and son originally from the S.Side moved to Skokie.My cousin who also has a few dozen Rests and another guy that I cant think of his name now.Been 30+ years.
Eight years ago I was in Skokie visiting family and friends and some friends who also have a rest. insisted that my son and I had to go to this Fab Japanese rest in Wilmette.After entering it took me less than a minute to realize my son,whose mother is Japanese,was the only Japanese in the place.Korean imposters were the owners and a bunch of illegals were the so called Sushi Chefs(becoming a Sushi Chef takes a few years of work in JP.) It takes big bucks to live in Wilmette so youd think the people would have some brains but they proved that all Asians look alike to them!
A couple months ago Chuck Stull was looking for Challa and I sent him your link.He also posts on Uruguay living which is a blog run by The Christian Right(KKK) and gun lovers from the USA.Im sure they would burn us at the stake and probably burn you twice.Sorry,I would never have thought a guy looking for Challa would wouldnt have any common sense.
Hope you got the drift on the Fab JP Rest. peace,bruce

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