“Everybody loves this place,” says Amy Vanover, GM at The Original Pancake House in Montgomery. She’s squarely on point, judging from the chatter and clatter of the early-afternoon crowd in this venerable breakfast and brunch dining spot. Let’s set the scene: it’s 1:30-ish and the place closes its doors for the day at 2 pm. Perhaps half the tables are occupied. While we’re waiting to speak to the GM, three sets of diners enter, along with two singles. All this on a Tuesday, the unofficial start of the restaurant week, and typically, one of the slowest days in that week.
“Most people order breakfast. We do sell sandwiches and have a light plate where they get a choice of chicken salad or tuna salad and fresh fruit. We have a chicken salad croissant and tuna salad croissant, too. But most people order a breakfast of some sort.
“Our Dutch baby is one of the things we’re known for here. It’s a big German pancake made with five eggs, and it’s baked (not cooked on a griddle as most pancakes are). The Dutch baby puffs up, and when it comes out of the oven, we bring it (to the table) right away. They put butter and powdered sugar on it, but it has to come out right away,” she explained, allowing that the “pancake” would collapse or deflate if allowed to languish too long in the kitchen.
When the Dutch baby reaches the diner’s table, there is lemon juice to be put on, along with a bit more butter and powdered sugar. The combination of the three ingredients creates an icing of sorts and makes for an unusual and deliciously sweet dining experience, Vanover stated, saying the icing is in the German tradition or style of eating this confection.
Another “known for” item is the apple “pancake,” which is made in similar fashion to the Dutch baby in that it too fluffs up and comes from the oven, not the griddle. But this Pancake House specialty is baked as would be a pineapple upside down cake, with Granny Smith apple slices and cinnamon on the bottom. Out of the oven, the pancake is flipped over, with the baked apple slices on top. “You don’t need anything on the apple pancake. It’s so good!” said Vanover.
How about conventional pancakes? You bet! “We have all kinds of pancakes; we’re known for pancakes. Hawaiian pancakes are really good — pineapple and coconut, with tropical syrup on top. Strawberry pancakes, with fresh strawberries, whipped cream, powdered sugar, and strawberry syrup. Blueberry pancakes, with fresh blueberries, powdered sugar, and homemade blueberry syrup,” she said.
Turns out all the syrups, including conventional pancake and waffle syrup, are homemade in the Pancake House kitchen. “Everything is made from scratch (here), and we don’t hold anything over to the next day. Everything is made fresh to order (including fresh-squeezed OJ!). And everybody (on the staff) is hands-on here, too. We don’t have drink kiosks or anything like that. We want our customers to be happy when they leave so they will come back,” Vanover emphasized, saying that full service in every way possible leads to customer satisfaction.
We tried several popular breakfast items, and loved them all, but with one clear favorite. First, we sampled the blueberry pancakes, topped with fresh blueberries, and flanked by a small pitcher of house-made blueberry syrup and a cup of whipped butter. The pancakes came to table piping hot from the griddle and dusted with powdered sugar. If you enjoy good, fruity-sweet pancakes, I’m betting you’ll love these blueberry delights.
Next, we were treated to a Belgian blueberry waffle topped with fresh strawberries, and accompanied by strawberry syrup (again, homemade), whipped butter, and a generous ramekin of whipped cream. The waffle was the “just-right” texture for me — slightly crispy on the outside and moist and tender to the fork on the inside. Be ready for a sweet treat when you combine the strawberry syrup with the whipped cream and butter. Delicious!
We liked and enjoyed both of these breakfast items, but for me the clear favorite was a third dish, the cherry Kijafa crepes. Think Denmark here. Cherry Kijafa is a type of fortified fruit wine made in Denmark — in other words, a type of brandy. Kijafa is produced from cherries and is slightly spiced, adding flavor. Montmorency cherries are simmered in the Kijafa prior to being used in the crepes. The crepes are filled with the cherries, plated, and festooned with more flavored cherries on top, then the crepe confection is dusted with powdered sugar. What a delightful, fruity meal! Cherry lovers, you’re in for a real treat.
See you at the Original Pancake House!