Original

The Original Pancake House in Williamsville, New York serves fresh orange juice and enormous pancakes. That’s really its thing. That, and being a destination brunch spot for all the surrounding suburbs. On weekend mornings it has that over-warm, over-loud, elbow-to-elbow bustle of the bar/restaurant down the street here in Chicago that serves high-end beers and mussels, that fogs up your glasses when you step in from the street and makes you confer with all your friends: Do we really want to wait an hour for a table? When I come home to visit family, this is where my mom wants to take her three girls. If the wait isn’t too long.

This weekend Kevin and I were walking around the Lincoln Park neighborhood here in Chicago and saw a sign for the same restaurant, same logo — little dude in a chef’s hat, scripty font for the name. It had to be the same place. I squeaked out some kind of joy-noises and Kevin followed me down a set of stairs to the place, which was tucked away below street level in the downstairs of what looked like an apartment complex. It was closed. Which makes sense, for a Friday night. But I couldn’t help but wonder if it was the same place, or if it got the same kind of traffic, or if it’d serve me a giant apple pancake and some fresh-squeezed juice. Anyone who got the apple pancake, when we were kids, was always given a stern warning from the waitress: Yours will take longer than everyone else’s. Implicit meaning: Yours will be better than everyone else’s.

Reading Mark Bittman’s blog today, I found out he also has apple pancake memories of the Original Pancake House, except in New Jersey, and also hadn’t realized it was a chain.

5 thoughts on “Original

  1. Wow. I’m surprised you haven’t heard of the one in Chicago. In fact, there may be more than one. I’ve been going since I was a tiny, little morsel of a kid. Maybe even my parents before me.

    FYI: I /only/ get the apple pancake when I go there.

  2. OH MY GOD! It’s one of those great debates….it it worth the hour wait for the glorious dutch baby [also comes with the stern waitress warning] – and I ALWAYS act dumb when it comes to the table so the waitress will put it together for me. I can’t get the butter, powdered sugar, strawberries and lemon juice to meld in that giant pancake bowl like they do. God bless those very old and funny outfitted waitresses – they are goddesses.

  3. Lindsay,

    there’s one right by my house (yes, there is more than one in Chicago) and yes, it’s worth whatever wait you have to go through. It does get a little crazy on Sundays after church.

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