Pancakes   Leave a comment

Slappy Cakes takes a cue from fondue, korean bbq, and sukiyaki restaurant establishments but with an American modern cut: pancakes. This newly opened restaurant has its patrons cooking their own pancakes on a stainless steel plate (so no smoky aromas afterwards follow them a la korean bbq). The space is open and bright, with most of the seatings being 4-tops (6 if everyone is skinny) though there are also some that are more like a long "bar" of 4-tops with grills between every 4. Each booth already has all the accompaniments, such as blueberry, cranberry, marionberry, and maple syrups, as well as various hot sauces. Contemporary art along the walls celebrate the breakfast, varying from art showing pancakes in its various stages before consumption (and functioning as a large "step by step how to do this pancake thing" guide for pancake making novices) to photos of people posing happily with one of their menu offerings. The bright core crayola palette puts you in both a happy mood while also evoking memories of the childlike joy of a Saturday morning breakfast with family.






They don't just have pancakes here: there are many other breakfast offerings, and after 11am they also have several lunch offerings from their grill. But, how could I come here and not try the pancakes? There was a choice of buttermilk, pumpkin (the seasonal offering) and I think buckwheat and a vegan version. Everyone at the table got the buttermilk if they were having pancakes- all traditionalists. The batter appears in a squeeze bottle, the easier to make your little round circles. Seriously though next time I come here, I'll bring a stainless steel cookie cutter and make other shapes, though with the squeeze bottle making some basic shapes wouldn't be too hard.

Rather then dipping prepped items in cheese, oil, chocolate, or broth (a la fondue), the prepped items are presented  in little gravy boats that allow you to choose whether to cook with them or use them as topping. So you can choose whether to put your nuts in the batter as it cooks, or top them after they are done. Besides nuts like hazelnuts and walnuts, there are also various meats (sausage or bacon), fruits, compotes (orange-ginger marmalade, lemon curd), etc. Honestly, at a $1 for each of these they are making a nice profit, but it's not like I would do this as an everyday breakfast destination.






The pancakes themselves… they were ok. I was expecting amazing batter, but it was average. If the pancakes are supposed to be a blank canvas for excellent add-ins, this might be ok. The toppings were just so-so- nothing that made you just go "oooo". If they wanted me to feel like I was getting more amazing experience then if just not hav
ing to put together these ingredients at home, I would have liked to see them branch out to some really amazing ingredients I could have added to my pancake. Maybe unusual flavored butters, seasonal ingredients like squash, or something that I might not think to try, like ricotta or a  cup of cereal for crunch with your pancake (rice krispies? granola?). I'll go a little more into ideas in a bit. But, overall, the experience was still entertainingly daytime fun without the commitment of a heavy meal like the traditional do-it-yourself restaurant types as mentioned earlier. I still like the concept a lot.

The stand-out turned out to be the bar. That's right, alcohol can totally be part of your start of the day. I saw the "Whiskey for Breakfast" and Slappy Screw (a twist on the screwdriver but with cinnamon), but opted for the Red Slappy (a red bloody mary- they also have a green version). It packed a good lil kick with spice, and most importantly, along with the usual celery stick, you can also add a slice of bacon to go in the drink. This was awesome. The bar offerings alone are going to bring me back to Slappy Cakes. Next time I might try the pancakes as a shared side though- because I did miss having a sunny side up egg to use my pancake to sop yolk with. I can imagine this place being absolutely packed on the weekends, so I'll just slide up to the cheerful bar. If they could (similar to what Orange in Chicago had) to let people make their own mixes of fruit drinks (i.e. you check a little sheet, a la sushi sheets, of what kinds of fruit you want blended together), that would be so killer.






Slappy Cakes has a lot of potential: a great concept. But in my opinion, they need to step it up taste-wise if they want to be more then a trendy stop for the short-term as people try the new idea of going out for a pancakebreakfast out (rather then doing this at home). But, if the taste isn't upgraded, the novelty will fade, and I'd hate to see this be gone when it can be so much more and be incredible if they just elevate the breakfast a bit more. After all, that's what Orange in Chicago did- they brought people in with the concept of breakfast sushi- but people stayed because of the chef's flavor profiles. I still remember those delicious pancake flights (a simple idea, but executed so well that I kept going back to see their new flight of the day. They remain my favorite breakfast place that I have ever experienced). This is something Slappy Cakes could potentially put together. For instance, 3 of the pancake flights I had that I remember- I realize these have multiple ingredients but they could "recommend" certain gourmet combinations to try (and price it up accordingly), or just have some of these as individual toppings people can put together on their own: 

  • theme Nuts: Salted Cashews with caramelized bananas and cocoa
  • theme Nuts: pistachio dust with dried cranberries and white truffle honey
  • theme Nuts: chestnut puree with stewed huckleberries
  • theme Nuts: roasted lady apples with hazelnuts and brandy
  • theme Strawberry: Strawberry-orange & star anise marmalade with toasted almond and orange flower anglaise
  • theme Strawberry: nutella cakes with creamed strawberries garnished with toasted hazelnuts
  • theme Strawberry: strawberry, orange, and candied fennel salad
  • theme Strawberry: roasted strawberries, pineapples, and blueberries with basil syrup
  • theme Wine:Merlot marinated pan roasted pineapple, topped with chocolate mousse and grape marmalade,
  • theme Wine: butter roasted granny smith apples served with Chardonnay cream sauce and vanilla syrup
  • theme Wine: Port poached pears served with hazelnut cream anglaise and Port reduction garnished with candied walnuts
  • theme Wine: Champagne poached strawberries served with strawberry cream anglaise dressed with champagne sabayon and jullianed strawberries.

You get the idea. In fact, with some of these components they can easily move their average per person list of toppings to go with their pancakes to more then they pay for the batter. I don't think Slappy Cakes should incorporate much else- in the end Orange's ever-expanding menu started to degrade the quality of their breakfast experience- but they could certainly elevate the pancake. After all, that's worked for some of the best and famous food carts of Portland (waffles, frites, grilled cheese, burritos, etc) to get a foodie following. The number of additional "other" stuff they already have on their menu would probably suffice- though I'll have to go back to taste-test them.  

Meanwhile, Lentil Garden offers something unusual which I tried: uttapam. Uttapam is a savory, rice and lentil based pancake essentially, and fried on a griddle with items such as (in my sampler) tomato, onions, carrots, and/or chilis. Their utappam is served with sambar, coconut chutney and tomato
chutney. I wanted to drink my coconut chutney down it was so good. I didn't need to because I wiped it clean with my uttapam.


 So as you can see, I had some great pancakes recently. 🙂


Posted November 24, 2009 by pechluck in Uncategorized

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