Monday, January 29, 2007
International House of Dissappointment
I'm not sure why, but the missus and I have been craving IHOD something fierce for, I dunno, MONTHS. Like a bad addiction to pure uncut Columbian White that eats at your nerves and breaks down your arteries until one day you find yourself selling a few quarts of plasma to some backalley surgeon named Vinnie for another sweet sweet taste of that forbidden nee--, what was I saying? Oh yeah, pancakes! Flapjakes! Hotcakes! The poor man's crepe! The attractive and socially acceptable way to eat batter soaked in tree sap for breakfast!
It's all that darn marketing, and perhaps, the fact that the restaurant has the word "Pancakes" in the title, but we really figured we were in for something special. I dunno, maybe a surly cook from the Midwest with his special batter recipe passed down through generations (all the way back to the Civil War where it was used as axle grease, a poor substitute for laudanam, and sometimes actually used to feed the fighting men). He'd be the sort who likes a little gristle on the grill and who sees no problem smoking a cigarette or twenty while making your breakfast. (Could be a function of American cinema, but the most authentic pancake I can imaginate is made by the modern day version of Cookie, that grizzly and more than a little crazy cook from Saturday Morning Westerns.) And he'd always have a special ingredient that he'd keep secret, and nobody could figure out, even though he ordered nutmeg in bulk.
And maybe the restaurant would be visited by lumberjacks or people who work in a mill of somesort. Preferably they'd have a mask of facial hair and would describe the pancakes as 'sticking to the ribs' (as if the same description used for prison shivs is somehow appealing to breakfast foods). And maybe, just maybe they have an Amish family that delivers fresh jams and produce to top onto those heavenly batter-y joys of flat breakfasty goodness. They'd say give ol' Cookie a blessing which would make him flinch while he peppers his batter with nutmeg.
The reality, as it turns out, is quite a bit different. First off, the IHOD we went to was at a mall. And malls the world over attract a certain... teenage... and/or trash of the trailer variety to it's retail utopia of faux brick walkways and overtly authentic atrium mosaics. So there's that. And then there is the constant crushing rush of a mix of humanity all dying to get some flapjacks. Now.
If you can get past all that, the meal wasn't that bad. Besides the whole food part. What I mean to say is, the coffee was hot, my 'farmer sausage' came with one entire unopened mustard pack, and I'm pretty sure the waitress didn't scrape off the whipping cream left on miche's pancakes (she ordered it without) with her name tag. Also, the pancakes were edible! And there was an array of four, count em, FOUR maple simulated Berrry™ infused cornstarch laden Syrap™ toppings! It was precisely the sort of place to take your child if you wanted to illustrate the difference between the Imagine Fairland created by the Advertising World, and the Nuts and Bolts Where the Rubber Meets the Road world of What you are Actually Paying For.
But hey, it was an experience. We didn't see any bearded lumberjacks or pancake chefs named Cookie, but sure as heck got rid of our IHOD craving. Forever.
NOTE: The real name of the pancake house has been changed to avoid slandering the guilty. It has been cleverly disguised however. Those of you used to doing 3 dimensional matrices in your head while simultaneously creating and solving 100 grid Sudoku puzzles, and playing Deep Blue via email as a nice break, may break the code.