Saturday, February 19, 2011

IHOP Restaurant

I've been using a copycat recipe for IHOP pancakes for over a year now. Not because I really love their pancakes, but because it was the easiest and best tasting recipe I'd found. I'd actually never been to an IHOP, and it never really interested me until I found that recipe. I figured it would be a long time before I ever tasted the real deal until I happened to spot a small sign on Calgary Trail announcing IHOP's grand opening. We decided we'd try it for brunch.

It was so busy, and they obviously planned for it as they have two rather large waiting areas set up. When we first arrived, there was a 15 minute wait to get a table, so we left thinking we'd come back some other time, but we changed our minds and went back in.

There's really nothing much to say about atmosphere and service. It's definitely loud in there just due to the amount of tables. I didn't think it was that hard to have a conversation, but thank goodness they opted not to pipe music in on top of the table chatter. The service is pretty fast, but I think it's mostly just to get you in and out as quickly as possible. Although it did seem like a long wait for the food and drinks.

I would normally order a breakfast item I can't make at home, but I specifically wanted to try their regular buttermilk pancakes, so I ordered the plain buttermilk pancakes with bacon (I didn't want to sully the flavour of the pancakes with a mound of strawberry puree). The pancakes are really good. I don't think the copycat recipe is that close to the original, but it's a fine home replacement (their method must be different in some way. Maybe they separate the egg and whip the whites and I think there's more sugar in theirs).

Idle Husband got the Rooty Tooty Fresh and Fruity combo (the most terrible name for a menu item ever. He looked at me, scrunched up his face and asked if he really had to say the whole thing). The sausages were pretty good, not too overwhelming on either the salty or greasy side but the eggs were terrible. If I make scrambled eggs at home, I use the Gordon Ramsay method (try this recipe, it's so good) and maybe I've spoiled myself, but the IHOP eggs were really rubbery, dry, and completely boring.

As we looked around the restaurant, it honestly didn't seem like many people were ordering plain pancakes like I did. Most had what looked like the stuffed french toast combo or the pancake combo. I thought these were too much for me, but it looked like everyone ate the savory items first and then had the french toast or pancakes last as a dessert (now I've completely exposed my snoopy nature. What can I say? They have glass panels between booths instead of a wall, so you really don't have much privacy while eating).

I also ordered their Splashberry drink after seeing another table with it. It was definitely good, but nothing special. It tasted like orange juice with some 7-up or Sprite and sliced sugared strawberries on the bottom. The strawberries made it really hard to drink with a straw and kind of ruined it for me. Thicker straw or strawberry syrup. Choose one.

The prices aren't bad when you just look at them on their own (I didn't immediately see anything over $10), but we're still talking about three pancakes and 4 pieces of bacon. Our meal came to about $25 (including drinks).

The stuffed french toast really does look quite delicious, so we might go back to try it; but otherwise, it wasn't really worth it when I can make all of these things at home (just as good and definitely cheaper). I honestly feel like the traffic was only due to the novelty of it (which is why we went), because what they serve can certainly be found at any breakfast restaurant (Denny's, Smitty's, etc) at the same level of quality.

If you want to try them out for yourself, I can't give you their address (their website doesn't have this restaurant on it yet) but I can tell you it's right across from the Zellers on Calgary Trail (3931 Calgary Trail Northwest).

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