Grandma Sally's Pancake House
450 E Ogden Ave.
Naperville, IL 60563
September 8 and September 25, 2007
The actual name of this restaurant is unclear. While it's referred to as "Grandma Sally's Waffle House" online, the name on the sign is "Grandma Sally's Family Restaurant." Whatever you call it, it's a place where you can get breakfast all day, and in my mind that qualifies it as a pancake house, which it also says on the awning.
We've been here twice now. On our first visit, the food was excellent. I got the strawberry blintzes and received a full plate of blintzes, along with an entire bowl of warm, gooey strawberries on the side. They certainly didn't skimp on anything. If you're a blintz person, this is your restaurant.
On the second visit I thought I'd try something different, so I got a cheese omelet with pancakes. Now, omelets are generally not something I get in restaurants, so I don't have a lot to compare this to, but I can't say it was anything to get excited about. The eggs were kind of tough, and rather than being evenly mixed into the omelet, the cheese was all kind of concentrated in a little pocket in the center. The pancakes were passable, the hash browns were pretty good. Though really, it's hard to screw up hash browns. Mix in a little ketchup and salt and you're set.
The interior of the restaurant sports a large painting of Grandma Sally herself, watching over the customers. I'm not sure whether this should give me a warm, fuzzy feeling, or a sort of, "Grandma Sally's got her eye on you, so you'd better not dine and dash or she'll come after you with her razor" feeling.
The front of the menu also sports a painting. There's Sally serving some food to kids at a table. The boy in the center is named Chris (you have to look really closely--his name is on the front of his shirt). The other children, I guess, aren't important enough to get names. It makes me wonder what sort of strings this "Chris" pulled to get his name on the menu while his fellow children languish in obscurity.
Joe here. I don't know why it took this long for us to check Naperville for a pancake house. It's only a few minutes away, and being the fourth largest city in the state -- it doesn't seem to be a question of if it will ever pass Rockford for third, but when -- and is the perfect suburban setting for the pancake house and/or family restaurant. Maybe a little too perfect? I'd post some of those anti-Naperville shirts that were popular two years or so ago but now they only seem to be available as toddler-sized onesies for Wicker Park grups to dress their kids up in. The irony of it all.
The blueberry pancakes I had on my first trip were excellent. Didn't get any blueberry syrup with them, but that's fine. I'm starting to think that flavored syrups were only invented to compensate for bland, dry pancakes, anyway. I had these more than a month ago so I'm afraid I don't remember much about them, except that I was very satisfied and was already looking forward to coming back to Grandma Sally's again soon. Maybe I'd found a new favorite pancake house?
My hopes were dashed upon the second trip. I ordered the Swedish pancakes, the hardy perennial dish that I can always count on, no matter where I go. Grandma Sally's serves theirs with a big bowl of lingonberries, which was a promising sign, but it was much more runny than I usually like. The pancakes themselves were soft and chewy, almost to the point of being soggy. There doesn't seem to be any cut and dry way of making Swedish pancakes, but I prefer a crispy edge to them that these didn't have. No lingonberry butter, either, but less than half of the places I've been to seem to offer that. I don't want to say these were terrible, they just weren't satisfying. Ayinsan's American cheese omlette was disappointingly runny and bland.
I do like the interior of the restaurant; lots of browns and greens, plenty of brass fixtures and hanging plants. You see this sort of thing a lot, but that's precisely the point. It's like an unspoken agreement in the pancake house underground: keep the same motif in every restaurant and customers will feel at home no matter where they go. It's more of a loose tradition than any kind of a corporate-mandated commitment to standards. It's a far cry from Grandma Sally's days of feeding orphans in a log cabin (partially pictured here behind the shoulder of the lonely gentleman). These days, her altruism towards children only only goes to ones that can afford it.