My boyfriend is from Chicago and I always look forward to our trips back to the Midwest to visit his family. Not only do I love his family, but I have come to love Chicago as well (don’t tell any of my New York friends). Chicago is full of friendly & energetic people, the crowd is both young and old (if you want to call people “old”), and the city is spectacularly clean (unlike NYC).
We have also had many exciting culinary experiences in the city of Chicago (remember my post on Joe’s?). Of course I am now dying to go to Giuliana & Bill Rancic’s new restaurant, but this trip to Chicago didn’t give us any time to squeeze in a dinner out on the town (we were in town for a wedding). So, we settled for a tasty breakfast instead of dinner.
In the downtown section of Chicago we walked from the new Waldorf Astoria to the Pancake House, which was only a few blocks away from each other. Architecture in Chicago is very different than typical New York City buildings — I love how you can see everything in Chicago all on one block no less… You’ll see the newly designed buildings that have a more “green” and exotic style, you’ll see the old-school (yet gorgeous) town houses, and then you’ll see a random little building like the Pancake House that looks like someone’s personal country-style home. So adorable!
Luckily we arrived before a huge rush — although the restaurant was already packed and we ended up waiting for about 15 minutes. The orange juice that was sipped down before our food arrived was freshly squeezed and exceptionally refreshing! We ordered the Apple Pancake and the Dutch Baby to share with the entire table — these two dishes are signature plates that you must order to get the full experience. I love apples, so of course I knew I would enjoy the Apple Pancake. I guess I wasn’t expecting how much I would love it though. Think of two things: apple pie, and cinnamon pancakes. Now, put the two together. That’s exactly what the Apple Pancake is… fluffy pancakes with rich cinnamon-glazed granny apple slices. It’s also a great dish to share with everyone, it’s easy to cut and isn’t as messy as you might expect!
I wasn’t as big of a fan of the Dutch Baby, probably because my boyfriend ordered it as “The Dutch Pancake.” Having spent time in The Netherlands, I expected to have more of a classic Dutch-style pancake… and that’s not what the Dutch Baby is.
I recently watched an episode of “The Barefoot Contessa” where Ina baked her pancakes in the oven (brilliant, I have to say). When she took the pancakes out of the oven they were extremely fluffed up and the outside of the pancake was much higher than the middle. That’s exactly what this Dutch Baby looked like. Covered with whipped butter, lemon, and powdered sugar, the Dutch Baby is crispier on the edges and softer in the middle. The flavor wasn’t anything spectacular and was fairly bland.
I ordered a skillet that had the following in the dish: hash browns on the bottom, green pepper, red pepper, onion, and pepper jack cheese, topped with 2 eggs that were cooked over-easy. Once I punctured the egg and let the egg yolk run out all over the hash browns, veggies and cheese I knew the flavors would infuse perfectly together. And I was right! The pepper jack cheese add a beautiful spice to the plate — it was nothing overwhelming, but a little heat makes eggs taste great (wouldn’t you agree?). Quickly my boyfriend’s fork made its way over to my skillet and he enjoyed the dish just as much as I did!
I hope we are able to go back the next time we are in Chicago! The prices were very reasonable and the service was extremely attentive. Bravo Pancake House, bravo!