“If you do big things they print your face, and if you do little things they only print your thumbs.”
– Arthur “Bugs” Baer, journalist, humorist
A quick trio of casual eats from lunches over the last couple of weeks…
Just off the corner of Rivadavia and Uriburu is a small, old-time feeling cafe called Bungalow, run by a trio of men in, I’d guess, their 60s, and looking pretty much like big brother, middle brother, little brother… right down to the same glasses. I was feeling peckish and something casual like a milanesa sounded like a good idea – in this case, “napolitana a caballo” – sliced tomatoes, ham, cheese, and two fried eggs atop. Despite the stack of additions, I’d note that the milanesa itself, underneath all that, baked and not fried, was one of the better ones I’ve had in quite some time. A salad on the side, pre-dressed, properly, with a vinaigrette, just made me happy – no one here dresses the salads for you.
On the other hand, over in Colonia a few days back, I was grabbing my twice a year Uruguayan fix of a chivito uruguayo, and as always, trying out somewhere new – this time Parrilla San Cono, at the corner of Int. Suárez and 18 de Julio – a really good morcilla to start, though it was first served barely warmed and I had to send it back to actually be grilled to hot enough to eat – it then came out perfect; unfortunately, it was followed by the classic sandwich that was pretty much wrong in all aspects – a bun that was the consistency of wet tissue, a gristly, unseasoned piece of lomo, and a sort of scrap of thinly sliced ham – okay, the tomato, lettuce and fried egg were fine – and pre-slathered with too much mayo. Mealy fries. Okay, I’m giving this place a pass, obviously – a shame, because it was kind of a cute old parrilla, and I liked my waitress and the gruff, middle aged cook who looked like if he’d have rolled up his sleeves he probably has MADRE tattooed on his upper bicep….
And the winner is… El Timón de Pandy,
Aguirre 101 at the corner of Frias (now) Loyola 101 at the corner of Lavalleja, which I’d spotted on my little wander a few weeks back – it was in the process of being renovated or painted or something – hard to tell, because nothing in there looks new – though the two 20-somethings who were doing the repair work were cute as hell and wearing nothing but shorts. Okay, the guys working there now aren’t all that cute – the one I assume is Pandy is a teddy bear with flaming red hair and goatee, his waiter companion looks just a trifle confused about, well, everything, and the delivery boy sort of looks like you ought to cross the street if you see him coming your way. On the other hand, some of the best empanadas and pizza I’ve had in Buenos Aires. The empanadas, flaky and light crust, the filling, I ordered the carne picante – ground beef, not my fave, I prefer diced steak, but oh wait, are those slices, yes, slices, of real chilies in there? Yes they are. Picante indeed! Followed by a pizza – the crust… just perfect really. It’s buttery, flavorful, crisped and smoky on the bottom, and light and airy above; the tomato sauce, seasoned with herbs and garlic, and enough of it on the pizza to taste; the cheese, not oily, and judiciously spread about the pie; toppings, sufficient, tasty, and points get added for pitted olives. I asked Pandy about the crust – asserting that he obviously does something atypical – he blushed and smiled and said… “paciencia”, and refused to say more – so at best I’m guessing that he actually lets the dough sit and develop flavor as opposed to what often happens where pizzerias just whip up a batch and start using it right away. It reminded my of my favorite pizza from my hometown of Ann Arbor, Bell’s – so there’s at least an element of nostalgia that went into the mix for me. This is another pizzeria I think I have to be glad is not in my neighborhood.