Friday, October 10, 2008

The Original Pancake House

Breakfast is my favorite meal of the day. No matter how hectic the attempt to get to work on time is, there's always a momentary reprieve when you pause to sip your coffee or bite into a banana. It's the eye of any chaotic morning storm. 

But that's the work week life. On the weekends, breakfast comes at a much more leisurely pace. Didn't wake up until 11? Fluffy scrambled eggs will taste pretty great then...and even better later on, should you manage to sleep on through to the mid afternoon. You can't say that about most foods. After all, when's the last time you craved stir-fry at 9 am? 

The novelty of breakfast for dinner puts a smile on most people's faces. And if you're a traditionalist, relax , a whole meal - brunch - was created just to accommodate you sticklers who can't conceive of eating an omelet after 10:30. (I've heard the fast food giants have a similar issue. Perhaps someone ought to lobby for a McDonald's brunch menu.) 

Yes, yes, breakfast is good, breakfast is great. But the thing is, breakfast is also a celiac minefield. Most yogurt contains gluten. Cereals that aren't made in dedicated facilities are streamed along on conveyor belts dusted with flour. Granola bars, oatmeal, bagels, the list goes on and on. And sadly, gluten-free breakfast products are among the most expensive out there. Ever thought about buying Glutino gluten-free breakfast bars? A box of six bars will run you $7.50. A bag of five bagels costs $6.00. A package of Van's frozen waffles is in the neighborhood of $6.00...and then you best make sure your toaster hasn't accidentally been shared with a stray piece of regular bread. 

And sure, you can buy a Pamela's mix and make your own, but hasn't there been a Sunday morning where you just want to sit back, relax, and have a warm plate of pancakes placed in front of you? 

When The Original Pancake House opened a few years ago, I remember thinking, no, wishing, that it had opened before I'd been diagnosed. Alas, it did not, and I knew better, so there was no pancake house for me. However, about 2 years after The Original Pancake House came to Cleveland, someone in the business had it in their heads - or more likely, hearts - that they needed to cater to the gluten-free community and they decided to provide gluten free pancakes. But they more than provide them.  They have a dedicated cooking stations. They're staff understands the need for separate cooking utensils. Every waiter and waitress knows what gluten free means. How cool is that? 

Given the lengths the company has gone to serve the celiac community, its a complete mystery to me why they don't advertise that they provide gluten free pancakes on their menu. But don't let this scare you off from mentioning your gluten free needs to waitress! In fact, most of the nearly 20 types of pancakes can be made gluten free. All of the fruit ones are served with an accompanying fruit flavored syrups - and if you're as easily amused as I am, you'll appreciate discovering you can cover your blueberry pancakes with drippy blue goo. 

The pancakes are very good - so far, the strawberry ones are my favorite - but like most gluten free products can be a little dry, and definitely require some syrup action. And as it is with most gluten free foods, they're surprisingly heavy. After eating two or three of the fluffy cakes, you'll feel like you've eaten at least twice that - but that's okay, take the rest home and enjoy pancakes for tomorrow's breakfast, too. 

The price is absolutely right for the food - which is something you seldom get to say about anything gluten free. I remember the manager of the Woodmere restaurant balking when I asked how much extra celiac safe pancakes were. There is no charge extra charge for eating gluten free. Most menu items are under $9.00. In fact, for $7.00 you can get a gigantic omelet, 3 gluten free pancakes, and most likely a stomach ache, if you managed to eat it all. Admit it, leaving a restaurant with an oh-man-I'm-so-full stomach ache sounds like a lovely change from the old gluten eating days of stumbling out of restaurant, stomach churning and head spinning. You'll choose gluten free pancakes every time. 

The Orginal Pancake House is located on the East Side at 28700 Chagrin Blvd. in Woodmere and at 3000 Westgate in Fairview Park on the West Side.  But there's more good news:  The Original Pancake House is a nationwide chain, with six locations in Ohio alone. So worry not pancake eating celiacs with wanderlust, a good breakfast - be it be at breakfast, at lunch, or at dinner - is never too far off. 

Original Pancake House on Urbanspoon


The Gluten-Free Homemaker said...

That is great! I'm only lucky enough to have an Outback close by. Does most yogurt really contain gluten? I haven't bought anything but plain in a while, but I don't remember it being much of a problem.

Dana Wax said...

It's pretty cool isn't it? I hope more restaurants start accomodating us celiacs soon. Who knows, gluten free might be the culinary wave of the future! Or at least, I hope it is.

As for the yogurt, lots of yogurts have modified food starch in them - which is a nasty source of hidden gluten. That goes for frozen yogurts, too. Popular brands, like Dannon, have modified food starch. I'm also vegetarian, so I don't eat gelitan products - like yoplait - so I guess I'm pretty particular with my yogurt products.

Stonyfield Farms makes gluten free yogurt. If you're in to something really fancy - and a little expensive - I've become a big fan of Rachael's Exotic Yogurt. Also, many types of Greek Yogurt are gluten free too.

I'm a big fan of yogurt as you can tell :)

Dana Wax said...

I should add - and hey, this is actually on topic! - that yogurt on top of pancakes is one of my favorite combinations!

Debbie said...

I am so hoping right now that the one close to us in Oregon does this as well. I will call them tomorrow! I would have never known this if you hadn't posted it - but, how could you not? It really is very post-worthy isn't it?

Dana Wax said...


I don't know where you live in Oregon, but The Original Pancake House is actually based out of there.

According to this 2007 press release .... ....they actually were testing first gluten free pancakes at two locations in Oregon.

Given that it's a year later, and they've shown up at to OHOPs in Ohio, I'm guessing the pilot program is over an most of the Original Pancake Houses do have GF pancakes.

Here's hoping they do...let me know what you find out!

Ali said...

Sounds great!! But one small thing - most yogurts don't contain gluten. Modified food starch in the US is made from corn; if made from wheat it is labeled: "modified food starch (wheat)". In the UK it's another story, but in the States...MFS is safe safe safe.

Jeanine said...

Wow, I wish we had a Pancake house here. I couldn't imagine going out to eat something like pancakes. Wow! Boy, I'm also glad it's Saturday morning when I'm reading this, because our family always has my GF pancakes with chocolate chips for a special breakfast on Saturday's. I'm craving them now!

H.Peter said...

Brilliant customer service. Eventually more and more companies will understand the issue of customer service.

The Gluten-Free Homemaker said...

Back to the yogurt. Modified food starch is almost always made from corn, but if it was made from wheat it would have to be stated on the label according to the food allergen labeling law. Gluten Free Living magazine has done a lot of research into these types of ingredients and is a good source of information. You could also call the manufacturer to confirm that a product is gluten free.

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The Original Pancake House tastes very different to the regular pancakes we eat in the morning! I can not believe that I found the recipe because my mom didn't want to give it to me

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Stonyfield Farms makes gluten free yogurt. If you're in to something really fancy

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This cannot have effect in actual fact, that's what I think.

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