The Park Slope Gastronome

Back in Park Slope.

Saturday, December 22, 2007

The Original Pancake House of Fort Lee

The Original Pancake House of Fort Lee takes up a corner of a typical suburban mini mall, with a Blockbuster and hair salon as its neighbors. It's a franchise with over 90 restaurants operated by individual families that shouldn't be confused with an IHOP or Denny's even though the exterior has the same type of blandness. I had breakfast with my folks here last weekend and learned the food is pretty good. The prices are a bit on the high side, though I will say the portions are large for the most part

We started off with a large glass of freshly squeezed orange juice for my dad and I to share and three cups of Royal Kona coffee. My mom went with the blueberry pancakes with a side of bacon, though she came very close to ordered the bacon pancakes. Neither my dad or I could decide on sweet or savory, so we decided to split a Meat Lover's Omelette and some banana pancakes.

The blueberry pancakes came 6 to an order with the blueberries folded into the batter while you got 8 of the banana version and the fruit was sliced atop standard buttermilk pancakes, which I've just learned while rereading the menu is the way it's described. The menu reads: "Buttermilk pancake filled with diced bananas and lightly dusted with powdered sugar." As you can see below, the bananas were just served on top.

Each pancake was approximately the size of a large cookie. They were larger than silver dollars but slightly smaller than what I'd call a typical pancake. Each order came with warm maple syrup as well as its own special sauce - blueberry compote and hot tropical syrup respectively. Both my dad are I were not into the tropical syrup. I liked the flecks of coconut, but not so much the overly sweet guava-y taste, or whatever fruit it was. The three strips of bacon on the side cost $4. Though they look a little overdone in the photo, they weren't. They still remained chewy due to the thick-cut nature.

The size of the omelet was pretty ridiculous, though you can't tell from the photo. It came stuffed with bacon, sausage, ham and cheddar cheese. As a side you can get toast or three buttermilk pancakes. We opted for whole wheat toast and also a side of home fries. Our server told us that because it's cooked in an oven, it would take a little longer. Fine we said, but what does an omelet's cooking time have to do with bringing three cups of coffee over? Towards the end of the meal he completely disappeared and no other waiter approached our area or acknowledged us. It took a good 15 minutes to get a coffee refill.

We barely made a dent in the omelet. The home fries were bland and mushy, not even as good as what any greasy diner would slop on your plate. Back in Brooklyn, DMR was able to nurse a hangover with a feast of leftover pancakes, toast, eggs and bacon. Even with that serving, a third of the omelet still wound up in the trash.

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Sunday, December 16, 2007

Brunch at Le Pain Quotidien

Le Pain Quotidien is a chain that touts organic products and a homey vibe. The tables are rustic and many of them communal. All this comes at a premium. DMR and I ate at the one on Madison Avenue, on the Upper East Side, a section of town we are hardly ever in. Dan actually worked in this neighborhood for a few years when he first moved to New York. I don't know how he remained sane riding an overcrowded 4/5 train and dodging the uppity masses on a daily basis. Sorry if you live on the UES, but damn if it isn't one of the ickiest parts of New York.

Sometimes on my way to work, I'll pop into the Le Pain Quotidien near Bryant Park that recently opened up and grab a cheese danish or organic blueberry muffin to go. Prior to this meal, I had eaten at an LPQ just once. It wasn't a meal, but breakfast, actually a breakfast meeting/interview that went pretty terribly for me. In retrospect, I'm glad I wasn't hired and got a nice laugh a few months later when I found out they were trying to get me back in for another interview.

I ordered a single soft boiled egg and Dan got the grilled chicken and smoked mozzarella tartine. We both got individual pots of coffee as well, into which we stirred in organic sugar and drank out of latte bowls. My lone egg was served with rectangles of house breads and expensive as hell - $4, I think. Dan's sandwich came as a surprise to both of us. Neither of us expected it to be cold or open-faced, much less both.

The tartine was good, but not really the type of sandwich you'd want to eat cold. It came with some cucumber and radish slices, and cornichons, all three of which are excellent sandwich accompaniments. A big plus for them there. We shared a large order of fruit salad, which in the photo looks pretty handsome. Unfortunately, two-thirds of the bowl was mostly melon.

Dan got an underwhelming chocolate croissant for dessert. For $3.50 we expected more than a nib of chocolate. We also didn't expect our request to have it heated up be met with a reply of, "We can't do that here."

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Monday, December 10, 2007

Hodgepodge at Tom's

Brunch at Tom's on Washington Avenue. Dan and I started with egg sandwiches - mine with bacon, his with beef salami. He didn't quite like his, so we switched. I love bacon but I also love salami and eggs.

We also did a short stack of chocolate chip pancakes, a side of fries and a lemonade to share. Tom's had a couple butters that were new to us, including a peach walnut.

When we were first seated, I noticed the four-top next to us kind of gave us a look when we sat down. It wasn't until they were getting up to leave that I noticed the two ladies were Asian and the two guys, white! We were seated in Yellow Fever alley!

I wanted to punch the group that was seated after they. They seemed fresh out of college, led by a guy who was the only one who had eaten here before. His way of puffing out his chest was to call out Tom's for posting a Best Breakfast award from way back in 2005. Who cares if they got that award in 1975? What exactly is your problem, Mr. Did-You-Really-Come-to-Tom's-as-a-Group-of-8-and-Expect-To-Be-Seated-Together? We overheard some other really dumb things, which I can't remember right now but maybe DMR can chime in. Oh wait, now I remember one of the other gripes he had. He and some of his other friends who weren't present at the table didn't like how Gus and the rest of the Tom's crew were so friendly and liked to pat patrons on the back. WTF?

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