I’m just going to come out and say it. I love, but no, like really LOVE pancakes. I really do. Not like ok, geez, pancakes sure are delicious, or I sure do think they’re swell. No I love them. I would have a torrid love affair with them. I would be very hard pressed to choose between my husband and pancakes. Is that awful? I don’t care! PAN-CAKES. This week let’s skip together hand and hand through beautiful pancake fields while staring at fluffy pancake clouds and dreaming of rice cakes…just kidding, pancakes!
This list is in no particular order. Pancakes are like children, you can’t pick your favorite.
The Spiced Pumpkin Pancakes at John O’Groats
I have a nasty habit of modifying my food orders. I’m that person that chefs probably hate. I find this is a habit that is almost exclusively relegated to breakfast time. My most recent pancake endeavor took me to John O’Groats on Pico. I’ve heard numerous times that John O’Groats has some of the best pancakes in town, possibly even THE best. I certainly had my doubts. Some random hole in the wall place is going to compete with award winning chefs’ versions? Pfft. I am particularly partial to pumpkin pancakes. I am absolutely that person who freaks out about pumpkin everything. I cannot tell you why but it’s true and I feel only moderate shame about it. In order to compare it to one of my favorite (self modified) pumpkin pancakes in town, I added chocolate chips and whipped cream (more on that other place later.) I have to say I was more than pleasantly surprised by John O’Groats. The service was some of the best I’ve received, especially in a casual diner type setting. The owner Paul Tyler greeted every guest, took my order while the waitress was busy, and checked on me numerous times throughout my meal. Mr. Taylor even suggested I order a single pancake as the rest of my order seemed too advantageous, a suggestion that made me quite happy, but would gross him about $6 less. Aside from the service what really surprised me were the pancakes. A pretty basic looking pancake ended up being thin but fluffy packed with assertive pumpkin flavor and large bursts of added melted chocolate ooze. I was certainly impressed. I don’t know if I can say it’s my favorite but the pancake at John O’Groats will definitely be added to my regular breakfast circuit.
The Lemon Blueberry Pancakes at Bouchon Bistro
You know when you wake up some mornings and you just FEEL rich? You think money doesn’t matter, I’m on top of the world, EXCELSIOR! etc, etc. Maybe you are ACTUALLY rich, well good for you. Maybe you just have a fuzzy view of reality. Regardless, when such a moment strikes me I personally tend to pick restaurant with the absolute the fanciest brunch I can think of. I just want to pretend I am one of those liberal elites the news keeps telling me about. I want to eat like a queen! Where does one go when they want to put on their fancy pants? Well, Bouchon, of course. The Los Angeles outpost of award winning Chef Thomas Keller’s Napa, New York, and Vegas restaurants but this time located in Beverly Hills (I told you it was fancy.) The star of my very posh meal was most certainly their version pancakes. Thicker cake-like pancakes are filled with light lemon flavor with fresh blueberries topped with a generous dollop of Chantilly cream. I’m not sure if these tasted so good because I had a money contact high from all of the Richie Riches surrounding me or if they really were some of the best blueberry pancakes I’ve had. No one will ever know. Pinkies up!
The Buttermilk Pancakes at Jon & Vinny’s
Ok yes Jon & Vinny’s is as trendy as they come. They don’t have online reservations, they almost never answer the phone, you CANNOT get a reservation any time before 9pm on a Saturday night…ever, it is seemingly unnecessarily expensive, they have weird fees that are hard to understand (isn’t an 18% service charge in fact a tip? According to the very complicated answer by my waitress, no, no it is not.) Is all this hullabaloo worth a trip to Jon & Vinny’s? Y.E.S. Although, my suggestion would be to make your visit on a weekday for breakfast or lunch. If you do wander in during breakfast hours I wholeheartedly suggest you try the Buttermilk Pancakes. Jon & Vinny’s pancakes are a stack of 5 smaller pancakes topped with strawberries and blueberries, salted butter, and maple syrup. Sounds simple enough, right? Au contraire mon frère! These are no ordinary pancakes. Crispy on the outside, light and airy on the inside, punctuated by little pops of salt from the incredibly luxe butter. If you’re a pancake purist I would highly suggest trying these out. They are just different enough to register as special, but classically unfussy.
Buttermilk Pancakes AND Ricotta-Cornmeal Pancakes at Ledlow
Poor Ledlow. This downtown restaurant was formally a local favorite formerly called Pete’s. Ledlow took over the space with Chef Jose Centro at the helm. Everyone was mad. Except me, who didn’t know about Pete’s, but loved Chef Centro’s other three restaurants, and really didn’t care either way. There is a strange cultural phenomenon that happens in the food-o-sphere where restaurants close, no one can get over it, and then they blame the new restaurant like it was some kind of hostile takeover. Ledlow has changed its name three times in an effort to shed the hate. Despite all of the poo-pooing Ledlow is still able to turn out pretty solid food. They offer multiple pancake options including a buttermilk variety with 3 topping options (I chose the strawberries with cardamom,) as well as a ricotta cornmeal variety with berries, cherry tarragon syrup, and whipped ricotta. You can tell Chef Centro is trying to bring in his innovative flavors, but is still held back by the stigma of the previous diner. I can only hope Chef Centro keeps trying to break away from the expected, and brings more of his exciting voice to the food at Ledlow.
‘Tis the Season Pancakes at The Griddle Cafe
The pumpkin pancakes at The Griddle Café have always been my all time favorite pancakes. The Griddle is known for serving a massive 12 inch diameter stack of pancakes. I have known many a capable eater, and have yet to meet someone who can finish a stack comfortably. It’s not listed on the menu, but The Griddle will allow you to order a single pancake…do this. Don’t be brave, you’ll regret it. The Griddle is also known for being incredibly accommodating, and will essentially allow you to modify anything as long as they have it in the kitchen. I learned early on that chocolate chips belong in pumpkin pancakes without question. Allowing me this request made me instantly loyal to The Griddle. The only thing stopping me from eating at here every single day is the unbearable line that forms outside of The Griddle regardless of the day or time. There is no longer a time I can go, and guarantee to be seated within a reasonable span of time. This, however, is a good thing. If The Griddle was easily accessible we would all be in trouble. We would all be subject to the world of fat humans in WALL-E, and while I could certainly use a hovercraft scooter sometimes, I think it’s an accessory better left to the film.