Wednesday, October 25, 2006

Original Pancake House, Park Ridge

Original Pancake House
106 S. Northwest Highway
Park Ridge, IL 60068

October 21, 2006

So The Original Pancake House actually has over 90 different locations nationwide? What a letdown. Here I thought I was setting foot inside what should have been a national landmark, or at least a restaurant that could stake claim to an original and gutsy name. But it's just another chain, apparently. Next someone's going to tell me that there's more than one Waffle House out there.

But as far as chains go, at least they give their franchises (or at least their Park Ridge location) the freedom to run things as they see fit, no matter how eccentric and wierd that might be. As if IHOP would let any of their restaurants put up a Christmas tree in the middle of the dining room during October (covered with Halloween ornaments, no less). Model trains rode in nonstop circles around its base; there were only two running when we were sitting down, but it looked like they could have had as many as four running at once on different tracks if they really wanted to.

But I figure I should stop wasting time describing the toy trains because there are apparently a couple of people who read this blog now, and they'd probably wonder why I'd pay so much attention to such a silly thing. Oh, and most, if not all of those readers were sitting next to me, too, probably wondering why I'd bother with this blog in the first place. Then again, they seemed to be having more fun laughing at everyone else in the restaurant instead. We arrived after 2:00 so it wasn't busy at all and the dining room was mostly vacant, but they still had fun mocking the pasty man in the tank top sitting by the exit door. I can't say for sure that he didn't deserve it.

I ordered the blueberry pancakes and was a bit dissappointed when a plate of five slightly-larger-than-silver-dollar blueberry pancakes arrived. The blueberries were mixed into the batter and there was extra blueberry compote on the side as well. But they didn't last long, and it really just wasn't enough. Gena ordered the apple pancake, which was more than enough for her, so I cut a big piece from that. The apples were baked on top of it, not inside like the famous Apple Villa pancake, but it was still as chewy, sweet, and moist as I'd hoped.

A few years of ordering Swedish pancakes at IHOP has permanently perverted my expectations and understanding of just what they're supposed to be, so I'm always shocked and confused whenever I see them or try to order them anywhere else. The ones that Marcia ordered were crispy and so flat that you could almost see through them. Is this normal? Don't get me wrong, they were good, and the generous helping of lingonberries was excellent.

Yancy ordered a plate of crepes that were apparently very filling, so as you can see below, the last of the three went untouched. But the human body can only consume so much cream and filling before it begins to reject the excess lactose. He also ordered hash browns on the side, only to receive a bowl full of diced potatoes that we later found out (thanks to the receipt) were actually "Southern Potatoes." I think he was pretty disgusted by these just on principle, and hardly ate any of them.

Dan ordered some kind of egg sampler platter that included pancakes on the side. He seemed satisfied. I should have let him do part of the review but I'd like to keep this blog clean enough for my grandmother to read. If she ever gets a computer and learns to use the internet, I mean.

As far as chain (breakfast) restaurants go, The Original Pancake House surely has to be one of the best I've ever been to, if not for its food, then for the fact that it doesn't stick to a phoned-in design at any of its locations -- not in any of the images of its various restaurants that I've been able to find on Google, and certainly not at the barn-shaped Park Ridge location -- unlike IHOP or any of the the other prefabricated blights upon our American landscape. If you want to go someplace fun and -- I hate to say it -- "quirky" for breakfast or lunch (sorry, they're not open for dinner), then maybe the Original Pancake House is for you. Be an Original!


Lady Christy said...

You really can't rate pancake houses until you've been to Walker Brothers. It's a Chicago landmark. Was even in the book AND movie Ordinary People. The best location to go to is WIlmette. Actually, they are all nice, but the Glenview on is NOT the prettiest, so I wouldn't go there. There's dark wood and stained glass everywhere. The BEST apple pancakes and really great canadian bacon. You MUST go! I LOVE the place!

Jane said...

I have been going here for years. The food is always consistently great, I have never had a bad meal here. That being said, they have slipped somewhat in the service department. If you can look past that as being a possibility, go and enjoy some of the finest pancakes anywhere.