Lumes Pancake House
9060 W. 159th St.
Orland Park 60462
November 2, 2006
As a pancake restaurant reviewer, it causes me deep shame to admit that until I went to Lumes Restaurant, I never fully understood the difference between blintzes and crepes. I mean, they look kind of the same, and they're both shells stuffed with filling, so I guess I've always lumped them into the same category. I finally succumbed to curiosity and asked the waitress, and she informed me that blintzes contain a ricotta-cheese based filling, whereas crepes are just shells stuffed with a generous helping of whatever. Having learned this, I have ascended one rung higher on the long ladder to Pancake Nirvana, a state of total enlightenment in which all breakfast-related knowledge is clear to me. When I achieve Pancake Nirvana, rays of pure energy will shoot out of my body and I will be able to control matter with my mind. In addition to this, all breakfast items will feel an instinctive bond with me and come to my aid in times of trouble.
Fittingly enough, I ordered blintzes at Lumes. Strawberry blintzes, to be precise. They were smaller than the ones I had at Downer's Delight, but I found them satisfying, nonetheless. The ricotta-cheese based filling was the perfect consistency, neither too runny nor too solid. Joe sampled them and thought they were a little dry. Maybe I just like my blintzes dry. Maybe next time, I'll ask for a dry blintz on the rocks.
I suppose I should say a few words about the restaurant itself. Lumes is fairly nondescript, as far as pancake restaurants go. It has a classy, restrained feel, maybe because they don't cover the walls with kitsch. The windows let in plenty of light. Our waitress was polite and helpful. And the coffee was good. Good coffee may seem like a triviality, but nothing ruins a good meal like a mouthful of foul, gritty, lukewarm coffee dregs. And all too often, restaurant coffee is either sludgy and too strong, or so weak that it's just like brown water. This was neither.
My one complaint is the pancakes themselves. I didn't order them, but I tried a bite. They weren't horrible, but they were definitely substandard for an actual pancake restaurant, sort of what you'd expect from a store-bought mix. If you're in the mood for some really excellent pancakes, go elsewhere, but if you're in the mood for something else, Lumes offers a good variety of breakfast foods. It's worth a visit.
Just like Bakers Square and Downers Delight, Lumes Pancake House has deceivingly anti-apostrophic name designed to trip up even the most astutue observer. It's not Lume's, as a casual glance or a word-of-mouth recommendation from a friend would suggest, but Lumes. This lack of possessiveness is troubling if you consider the possibility that the small chain is owned by one Lume (or Lumes) family. Where's the family pride? Unfortunately, this remains the only explanation for the name that makes sense, though, as neither Merriam-Webster or even Google are able to clear up the matter. Here's where a simple telephone call would likely give me the answer I need, but I'm not about to hassle someone with such a petty question.
Nomenclature aside, Lumes has a good selection of pancakes and other breakfast favorites. It had been a few weeks since I'd had a good waffle so I ordered one. No fruit or frills this time, just a regular waffle. It was pretty much what I expected, but the presentation was nice. Our friend Chris ordered the blueberry French toast, which came with a very generous portion of blueberry compote on top.
For a Thursday afternoon, Lumes was fairly packed with customers, even though the photo below really doesn't capture that at all. It should give you a general idea of what you're in for, though. It's a welcoming, family-friendly atmosphere that should appeal to all ages.