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Published November 17th 2012
Pancakes can taste like this?
Last week I went with a couple of friends to the Pancake Parlour in Northland, for the umpteenth time. We'd just seen the movie The Seven Psychopaths which left us physically and emotionally exhausted. If you've seen the movie you'll empathise. Since the review here is not about the movie but rather the recuperative quality of the restaurant, I'll get to the topic at hand, which is pancakes--buttermilk pancakes, buckwheat pancakes, and even blueberry pancakes.
At the Pancake Parlour, they take something as mundane as a pancake and transform it into a decadent culinary siren with rich butter, dollops of ice-cream, and other sultry concoctions like hollandaise sauce and maple syrup. A number of side dishes like mushrooms, bacon, and ham, along with delectable sauces act as accessories in this delightful tale of taste, flavour, and satiety. Went overboard there a tad, didn't I? That's exactly what they do at the Parlour.
They mix opposites and match the unmatchables in a gay abandon that is well personified by their Lovely Lady icon flipping pancakes with a careless frivolity. It goes against everything you've been taught as a kid. If I'd asked for ice-cream with my pancakes my mother would probably have looked at me with concern and felt my forehead with the back of her hand. As regards servings they incline towards more is good rather than less is more.
The Menu The Pancake Parlour menu is extensive and covers everything from an imaginative Children's Menu to Two Course Dinner. There is a certain thoughtfulness that extends beyond the usual to include students and seniors. Besides the pancakes, they have crepes, salads, savouries, cocktails, and of course the ice-creams and milkshakes. I've been working my way from one end to the other and must declare that I lean more towards the buckwheat pancakes rather than the crepes or the buttermilk pancakes.
My other favourites are the Caesar's salad, the Eggs Benedict, the Country Breakfast, and the Deluxe Fries. As for beverages, I stick to my latte although I did try their unlimited dripped coffee once. It was alright except that it was served lukewarm and I don't quite like the balding spot in the middle of my coffee. My all time favourite would be the Angove Chardonnay with peach and lemon flavours, followed closely by the fresh orange juice.
The Décor The interior tends toward the historic, verging on the opulent with an abundance of colour, elaborate murals, zany fixtures, and vintage objet d'art, with an emphasis on overstatement. What could've been an assault on the senses is tamed to the right degree of aesthetics by the conventional black and white tiling on the floor and the stylish light globes that effortlessly create a feeling of cosy warmth.
The Service The service at the Northland Pancake Parlour is exemplary. The young ladies who show you to the table and take your order invariably do so with a genuine affability that lets you settle down instantly to the business at hand. They are also well-turned out in keeping with the general air of cleanliness and efficiency. I'm amazed at how they have no problem memorising lengthy orders that are sometimes terribly mutilated as a result of changed minds and indecisiveness. They deal well with, "I don't know, maybe I'll have this, or that, what's your special, I'll go with the other, what am I saying, I'm so sorry I was born stupid, I'm only having coffee, no, I'll have the farmer's breakfast, then again … " and so on. They smile through the entire ordeal and get the order right ultimately; it's a gift, I suppose.
The Perks The best thing about the Northland Pancake Parlour, other than their food of course, is that they stay open till midnight. It is located right opposite the movies and when you crawl out after a late night show you're greeted by the cheerful lights of the Parlour. You can eat here or takeaway and not worry about going hungry. At least some of their ingredients are stated to be organic and for me that's always a big plus. Their prices may not compete well with Maccas but then there is no competition when it comes to good food in terms of flavours, quantity, and being freshly cooked.
The food, especially the buckwheat pancakes, the generous servings, the great customer service, the spacious interiors and fabulous décor, comfortable seating, the use of organic ingredients, the location, and the overall experience that is relaxing and comfortable.
What I Like Less The tepid dripped coffee and the Boston beans. Families with kids who scream for no apparent reason; but that's nothing to do with the Parlour.