On Pancakes

Fluffy, subtly sweet and always delicious, pancakes are one of life’s simplest pleasures.

But lately, it seems that everywhere I turn, some ambitious chef or restaurant is trying to overly complicate the already-perfect-as-is pancake.

It started innocently, as these things do, with a few berries, some unique syrup flavors and maybe a chocolate chip or two. And then, all of a sudden – bam! – we’ve got nuts in the batter, mountains of powdered sugar, and not a dollop of good old fashioned butter in sight!

This madness must end.

Of course, I’m too much of a hypocrite to lead the charge, what with my eyes glazing at every mention of a “pancake special” at brunch. In fact, it was my saying “yes” to two such specials in recent weeks that instigated this post in the first place.

My first mistake was ordering the French toast special from Devil’s Alley, a hit-or-miss grill spot down the street from my apartment. Now, I know that French toast and pancakes are fundamentally different brands of breakfast pastry, but for the purposes of this argument, we’ll just let it ride.

The special was billed as being “topped with strawberries and blueberries, with peach-marscapone spread.” In reality, it was topped with strawberry and blueberry compote, a wholly different kind of topping. But the true crime of it was that the berry goop wasn’t even tasty. Both compotes were just bland and wet. The only saving grace was the marscapone spread, which was creamy and lightly sweet.

At least my second adventure in over-indulgent pancakism had real fresh fruit. In fact, the slices of strawberries and bananas were the best part of the Oatmeal Flapjacks I consumed at the Country Pancake House in Ridgewood, NJ. With a humongous list of pancake and other breakfast options, I was immediately overwhelmed. But instead of ordering a nice short stack, I went for one of the most popular dishes – the aforementioned flapjacks.

These things (four of them that spilled over the plate) were huge… bigger than any other order among the people in my party. Unfortunately, they just weren’t very good. These flapjacks were dry, not moist; crumbly, not fluffy; and over-reliant on the chocolate chips for taste.

And that, my friends, is why I will never again order specialty pancakes. Those buttermilk circles of heaven were only meant to go with two things:

  1. butter
  2. syrup

Far be it from me to deny the natural order of things.

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