Of the many fine pancakes we have eaten coast to coast, we have a special spot in our heart for those made at Grove Café. When you order one, the very word will take on new shades of meaning, for in this place a pancake is, in fact, a pan cake – a good-size cake that has been cooked on the griddle. It is nearly an inch thick in its center and wide as its plate – a pillow-soft round of steamy cooked batter that has an appealing pale orange hue. With a couple of peppery, piggy Iowa sausage patties, one of these cakes is a mighty big meal. Two of them are listed on the menu as a “short stack” – a meal strictly for the tallest appetite.
Grove Café also offers omelets and French toast for breakfast, as well as hamburgers, hot beef, and meat loaf at lunch; but to many of its long-time fans, including hordes of Iowa State alumni who have consumed tens of thousands of calories in this comfy place, pancakes are all that matter.
Located in the old business district, Grove offers seating at bare-tabled booths and at a low-slung counter that offers a view of the cooking area. Its faded cream-colored walls are decorated with photos and mementoes from the riding exploits of the proprietor, who won a blue ribbon at the state fair showing Appaloosa horses; and a large sign above the kitchen jokes, Just Like Home: You Don’t Always Get What You Want.
Update, 6/29/03: The Grove Cafe has remodeled and also has become non-smoking.