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Walker Brothers Pancake House

153 Green Bay Road, Wilmette, IL - (847) 251-6000
Posted By Michael Stern on 12/17/2006 12:23:00 AM
There are nearly 100 Original Pancake Houses around the country, all vaguely related to the original Original, which opened in Portland, Oregon, in 1953. We’ve never eaten in a bad one – the formula of using top-notch ingredients and a repertoire of great recipes is sure success – but the Walker Brothers franchise in Wilmette, Illinois, opened in 1960, raises the bar even higher. Decorated in spectacular art nouveau stained glass and wood, it is incredibly clean, embarrassingly polite, comfortable, and generous. Everything served is eye-opening good, from the brilliant fresh orange juice and good, dark coffee (with a pitcher of heavy cream) to thick-sliced bacon and chicken-apple sausage. Order eggs, and you may exclaim, as we have, “I forgot how good a fresh egg, cooked in pure butter, can taste!”

Granted, it is difficult to order eggs when the pancakes are so good. The plainer ones are simple excellence – rich buttermilk cakes, tangy sourdough flapjacks, old-time buckwheat; and the snazzy “crepe” menu includes banana crepes, Cherry Kijafa crepes, and luxuriant seafood Newburg with crusty potato pancakes.

Our favorite meals, and the kitchen’s showstoppers, are the baked pancakes, either the German pancake or apple pancake, both of which are made with egg-rich batter that causes them to puff high above the skillet in which they are baked. Both arrive completely eclipsing the plate on which they sit. The German pancake is accompanied by lemon wedges and powdered sugar to create its own sweet-tart syrup. The apple pancake, a veritable mesa of breakfast, is a bubbling feast of fruit and cinnamon and tender batter – approximately 10,000 calories of deliciousness.

The only bad thing to say about Walker Brothers is that sometimes you can’t get in. There is often a wait for a table, a long wait on weekends.

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Scorecard

5 - Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
Overall: Legendary - Worth driving from anyplace
German Pancake
Bacon
Apple Pancake
Orange Juice
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Reviewers Photos [Upload Your Photos]

A close view of the Apple pancake shows the tender, eggy cake part interfolded with cooked-soft apples and their caramelized juices.
"A close view of the Apple pancake shows the tender, eggy cake part interfolded with cooked-soft apples and their caramelized juices."
Michael Stern





A full view of the plate-size apple pancake. (And this is a very large plate.) We always say one of these is big enough for two, but somehow just one of us manages to put away most of a whole one every time.
"A full view of the plate-size apple pancake. (And this is a very large plate.) We always say one of these is big enough for two, but somehow just one of us manages to put away most of a whole one every time."
Michael Stern


Puffy, soft, and egg-rich, the German pancake looks too big to eat ... but it is not!
"Puffy, soft, and egg-rich, the German pancake looks too big to eat ... but it is not!"
Michael Stern


The best restaurant bacon in America?
"The best restaurant bacon in America?"
Michael Stern


Orange juice is essential at Walker Brothers. It is vividly fruity and thick with pulp.
"Orange juice is essential at Walker Brothers. It is vividly fruity and thick with pulp."
Michael Stern


The interior of this pancake house is Victoriana supreme: stained glass, carved wood, chandeliers. An elegant environment for elegant breakfast.
"The interior of this pancake house is Victoriana supreme: stained glass, carved wood, chandeliers. An elegant environment for elegant breakfast."
Michael Stern


A rare view of Walker Brothers when there is no line of people waiting to get in.
"A rare view of Walker Brothers when there is no line of people waiting to get in."
Michael Stern



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