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Original Pancake House

22 E. Bellevue Place, Chicago, IL - (312) 642-7917
Posted By Michael Stern on November 1, 2002 4:25 AM
As a matter of Roadfood principle, we shun franchises, searching instead for unique restaurants. In the case of the Original Pancake House, we are delighted to make an exception. Last time we looked, there were Original Pancake Houses in 24 states – at least a dozen of them in greater Chicagoland. And we’ve never been to one we didn’t like. For reasons we don’t know, the standards of this franchise seem higher than any other. Some Original Pancake Houses are spectacularly good such as Walker Brothers in Wilmette; others are merely excellent; at every one, we know we can count on Dutch Babies, French crepes, and Pigs-in-Blankets that are standards of pancake excellence; we know the eggs will be fresh, the butter pure, the bacon thick and hickory-smoked, and the juice freshly-squeezed, even the prunes extra-plump.

During a recent stay in Chicago, we paid a visit to the Original Pancake House on 22 E. Bellevue, where we ooed and ahhed our way through a glorious breakfast, including a puffy Dutch Baby and a huge baked German pancake, the latter a a plate-size mesa of eggy batter laced with apple slices and topped with dark, sweet cinnamon glaze. It was 7am and we had a whole day’s eating ahead of us, but it was impossible not to devour the whole multi-thousand calorie meal. It is one of the great breakfasts anywhere.

This is a charming little restaurant: an urban coffee shop with swift, pleasant service and comfortable tables that make lingering over breakfast and coffee a pleasure. It’s not the place to go if you are in a big rush. Everything is cooked to order; and the big baked cakes, slow-risen by the power of eggs, take a full fifteen minutes to prepare.
5 star rating
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Posted By Robin Krauss on February 27, 2008 4:32 PM
Original Pancake House is my favorite place for breakfast even though it's part of a chain. This is no I-Hop. The food is quality all the way.

The bacon is smoked and thick-cut. The spinach omelet with Swiss and bacon is wonderful. It's as big as your head, like a round, crunchy shell on the outside with light, fresh, good-tasting cheese and vegetables on the inside, if you order it that way. Prepare to take at least half of it home with you. I dream about the apple pancake. It's a huge, light, eggy, popover-type pancake with an apple/cinnamon topping that is outstanding. This pancake is more of a dessert than a breakfast.

The orange juice is fresh. I've never been disappointed. The only change I'd make is to get them to buy larger glasses. The 8-ounce variety just gets annoying.
0 star rating
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Posted By LillyAnne Silbert on October 3, 2006 10:44 PM
I used to live four blocks from the Original Pancake House for eight years and I can concur that the weekend did not start Saturday morning (when it was warm) without waiting in line for pancakes from the Original Pancake House. The hot chocolate and coffee were excellent and we usually had some while waiting in line reading the morning paper.

The pancakes are excellent and the apple pancakes are a specialty. They have just the right amount of caramelized crunch on the apples and the proportion of batter to apples is just right. All of the varieties are very good. My favorite was the flapjacks. They were nice and thin without being tough. The German pancakes were very delicate and light.

One of the selling points of the OPH's is that all of the ingredients are top-notch and fresh. The butter has fat levels similar to European butter and the cream is evil. The eggs are always incredibly fresh and the scrambled eggs are extremely fluffy.

The restaurant may not look very fancy but the staff does a good job keeping the place clean, especially when there are continuous lines out the door and down the block as there usually are on Saturdays and Sundays. The lines usually taper off after 1 PM. Please note that this is a cash-only restaurant.

My only complaint is the lack of real maple syrup. In my opinion, it is a travesty to put generic syrup on a masterpiece. But you will be glad to know, the Original Pancake House is BYOMP. Many regulars bring their own maple syrup, as I did.
4 star rating
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