Wednesday, October 10, 2007

Gigi's Pancake House & Restaurant, Naperville

Gigi's Pancake House & Restaurant
2728 W. 111th Street
Naperville, IL 60564

October 9, 2007


Not every pancake house has its own website, so on the uncommon occasion where I find one that does, I'll usually read it pretty thoroughly before heading out the door. Who wouldn't want a sneak preview of where they're going to be spending the next hour in, not to mention a good hour or two's pay? When I first saw the website for Gigi's, I paused to wonder if maybe I should look for some place a little more casual. Flash animation and a snazzy jazz soundtrack? Pretty impressive, maybe even a little intimidating for someone who just wants to get a plate of pancakes. Photos of a sprawling banquet room, tables adorned with expensive silverware, customers wearing designer suits and dresses, toasting Champagne... can I really afford this?

Imagine my surprise when we pull up to the address and find a standard pancake house: no dress code, no maƮtre d', and no white tablecloths in sight. The exquisite pastries featured on Gigi's website? Possibly hidden in the back, though there's a display case full of basic cakes and pies. I've checked and rechecked this site a number of times since then, just to make sure I wasn't looking at a different Gigi's restaurant. Surely there are a few out there that begrudginly share the same name. But the Gigi's online seems to be the same one that we dined at, despite the misleading impressions of its website.

GiGi'sInside2 Gigi'sInside1

We arrived at mid-afternoon and nearly had the place to ourselves. Pretty standard but inviting interior that does its best to make you forget that you're stranded in a wasteland of suburban strip malls and big box stores. Their breakfast menu features a decent selection of pancakes, and more. I ordered the banana pancakes, pictured below, lurking in the shadows.


Sliced bananas on top, mushed bananas inside, moist, fluffy, and a bit on the heavy side. Whipped cream was provided on the side, which is a good placement for it in this case. Take it as you need it. My freshly squeezed orange juice was like sunshine in a glass. Recommended.

GiGisBread GiGisLiquor

Ayinsan here. Not a whole lot to say about Gigi's. It's cozy, low-key, and has some autumn-y decorations--no tacky paper jack-o-lanterns or dancing skeletons, just some orange leaves festooning the light fixtures. The waitress brought out a bread basket to our table before the meal, which is always nice. Often, when we visit these types of restaurants, we'll be sitting there hungry and we'll be the only people in the restaurant who don't have a basket of succulent muffins and soft, chewy rolls sitting on our table. I don't know if we just send out some kind of anti-bread vibe, or what. We usually either have to request a basket or go it's a pleasant surprise when a basket does show up, even if it's just your basic rolls and crackers, like this one.

I got the blueberry pancakes. In addition to the blueberries baked into the batter, there's some warm blueberry compote on top. Compote is a terribly unappetizing word--it sounds too much like "compost"--but nonetheless it's really good on pancakes. Especially when combined with whipped cream. By the way, I usually have to ask for whipped cream, and some places will even charge extra for it. Here, it came automatically with the pancakes, but it's on the side, so if you don't like whipped cream (but hey, who doesn't?), you can ignore it.

Gigi's might warrant a future visit, if it was a little closer. As it was, we had to drive for what felt like hours, across miles of unknown terrain. I think we crossed a desert at some point, and then had to drive through pirahna-infested rivers in a sweltering jungle. But it was worth it for those pancakes heaped with warm blueberry compote. Mmm, compote.