Friday, November 28, 2008

Golden House Restaurant & Pancake House, Chicago

Golden House
4744 N Broadway St
Chicago, IL 60640

November 25, 2008


The Golden House Pancake House & Restaurant has probably never been graced the elite heights of any critics' lists of best breakfast restaurants in Chicago, usually reserved for such prominent names as Ann Sather or Lou Mitchell. By comparison, there's nothing fancy or assuming about Golden House. It's a restaurant from another era, real names no gimmicks. But does it live up to its name?

GoldenHouseDiningRoom1 GoldenHouseDiningRoom2

Definitely not. Or at least that's the first impression you'll get, as you walk in and find yourself surrounded with shiny booths padded with... ruby red-colored vinyl. No solid gold tables anywhere! The deception continues as you're given your menu, featuring this misleading illustration on its cover. Perhaps the breakfast at Golden House reminded the artist of pancakes at their grandparents' summer home in what would appear to be the Wisconsin Dells, or perhaps Eau Claire or Rice Lake.

GoldenHouseSilverDollarPancakes GoldenHouseCoffee

I ordered a plate of silver dollar pancakes, offered in servings of ten or fifteen, though I'm sure you could ask for different quantities if you really wanted to. These were definitely satisfying, better than many other restaurants' take on the classic dish, but perhaps unsurprisingly, nothing too special. My coffee was hot and fresh, which they probably deserve credit for given that there were almost no other customers sitting down when we arrived; not much of an incentive for them to keep brewing fresh pots, but brew on they did.

The Golden House is located next door to the Riviera Theater, which I've only been to twice. First, to see Wilco in 2000, which was a pretty great show. Mercury Rev opened, Wilco played most of Yankee Hotel Foxtrot, and, while being surrounded by young hipsters and greying WXRT listeners, I still enjoyed myself without any sense of self-consciousness. About a year later I saw Paul Oakenfold on the horrid Bunkka tour and was so bored and utterly depressed by the whole show that I left long before it had ended. I probably went straight for the red line to begin my journey home but could have salvaged something out of the evening if I'd only looked to see what was next door.

Ayinsan here. No real complaints about Golden House restaurant and pancake house (not to be confused with Golden Nugget, another Chicago pancake house). There's nothing about it that really stands out at first glance, but it delivers the goods--the pancakes, that is. You won't find crepes or blintzes or anything too hoity-toity here. Just the old stand-bys: pancakes, waffles, french toast, all with optional fruit. The fruit specials have peculiar alliterative names like "adorable apple pancakes" and "beautiful blueberry waffles." Putting fruit on your breakfast does not merely add another flavor, see, it turns your breakfast into a work of art so lovely that you won't want to eat it: instead, you will cover it with a coat of varnish to preserve its beauty and put it on a marble stand in your foyer for all the world to admire. Anyway...

I ordered the country breakfast. I'm pretty sure that's what it was called, anyway. It's a standard breakfast combo with three pancakes, eggs and sausage.


The pancakes were quite tasty, chewy and dense the way I like them. Some people probably prefer the lighter, fluffier pancakes, and those certainly have their appeal, but in my opinion, nothing tops that chewy consistency. The eggs were passable (shown below with some non-Tobasco-brand hot sauce on them) and the sausage was a few notches above passable. They may look a bit scrawny, but they were quite tender and flavorful. No gristle. Always a good thing.

Unlike many such places, the waitress/waiter doesn't deliver the check to your table, you pay at the front counter. I didn't expect this, so I spent several minutes trying awkwardly to catch our waitress's eye and give her some indication that we were ready. At first I couldn't figure out why she was just standing behind the counter staring back at us expectantly. Really, this set-up makes more sense. It's just less common.

Overall, not a whole lot to say, except that if you're in the area and looking for a good, dependable breakfast place that will deliver the old favorites, stop into Golden House restaurant.

Thursday, November 20, 2008

tragedy strikes, pt. 2

It's been more than a year since we visited Gigi's in Naperville, a nice enough little restaurant that we probably would have returned to if it wasn't located in the bowels of southern Naperville, accessible only through a tortuously stoplight-ridden drive that we'd rather not experience again. For rather unfortunate reasons, however, it's a choice we may no longer have the opportunity to make.

On the evening of October 30, an explosion ripped through Gigi's Pancake House & Restaurant, critically burning two employees and causing extensive damage to the building. Read all about it here:,naperville-explosion-fire-102908.article

The authors of this blog would never claim to be the foremost experts on pancakes in Illinois, or the inside source on all restaurant gossip in the Chicago suburbs. Nevertheless, there's no excuse for us to take three whole weeks to cover a story like this. That said, the past three weeks have given investigators ample time to survey the damage and their findings, just released this week, have shed new light on what first appeared to be a freak accident.

This isn't a detailed or final report, and it might be some time before we know just what happened that night. This isn't the first time that local pancake house has exploded. Will there be more to come?