Wednesday, July 7, 2010

International House of Pancakes

Gravois Bluffs

Fenton MO.

This past weekend was a three day affair what with Independence Day and everything. I’d announced plans already to grill everything in sight on Sunday and Monday. I take grilling very seriously.

Saturday however was our night out. It was Adam’s choice and it was a good one. Fairly fresh off our visit to Waffle House a few weeks ago, he declared IHOP.

The Place:

In the strip of restaurants that front Gravois Bluffs this is the last one left to be reviewed, not counting a tiny Deli and a Q-Doba, which we will probably not be doing, ever.

The place was clean and sparkly, etched glass and wood panels segregated areas cutting down on the noise. Angel answered “booth” when queried about preference. My section of the booth was lumpy and uneven. I said as much and Adam shot back; “You’re lumpy!” Which is currently our families standard retort style to everything anyone says.

I.e. “That TV show was boring”

“You’re boring”

“The dogs are barking.”

“You’re barking!”

“It’s hot”

“You’re hot!”

We do this instead of actually trying to be funny or clever, it’s much simpler, but man does it get old.

“You’re old!”

The place was less than a quarter full, most of the patrons were families spread out thinly.

The wait staff scurried about, busily attending to the coffee refills and table cleanings. The staff, with only one exception was young and very skinny. I mentioned this to Angel, she replied “They must not eat here”. I looked around at the patrons and was forced to agree, the customers all seemed to be of greater girth. The one staff member that was of normal Midwestern pudgy build turned out to be the manager, obviously required to eat there fairly often.

The place did not smell like syrup, which I found to be nice. I’ve discussed this before and won’t burden you with the details again other than to say, mumps and lockjaw.

We ordered our drinks, tea, tea and Pepsi. They came while we were still drooling over the menu.

The Food:

We took quite a while to finally decide. We considered just telling the skinny waiter to just start on page one and bring the table one of everything till we couldn’t take any more. Everything on the menu looked great, it wasn’t at all a problem of finding something we wanted, it was that we didn’t want to not have something else.

I knew I had to get pancakes, since this was the “International House of” You know my rule on that. I opted for the combo, double blueberry pancakes with a blueberry compote (fruit, cooked with sugar and used as a syrup-like topping). The combo came with eggs, over-easy (like me) two breakfast meats (one each bacon and sausage) and a pile of hash browns.

Angel opted for the steak tips which came with eggs (scrambled) and hash browns. She also asked for a side of gravy, because Angel loves gravy. Adam ordered the chicken fried chicken, accompanied by two eggs cooked as they looked in the picture (sunny side up).

While waiting for the food the many children in the room started behaving more and more sugared up. There was jumping and shrieking and yelling. I considered telling the parents off, but they were all much, much larger than me.

Adam sniffed the syrup decanters, couldn’t decide what one of them was, asked his mom, she whiffed and declared boysenberry. A ten minute discussion ensued, a small tiff about the origin of boysenberries. We finally agreed that it was a combination of berries.*

The food arrived, none too soon. The eggs were perfect, clean, brilliantly so, the hash browns were crispy through and through, the way Adam prefers them though he didn’t order any.(Haha!) The one slice of bacon was crispy but not burnt, the sausage was succulent and flavory.

The picture in the menu depicted a dollop of compote on the pancakes, the reality in front of me was quite different. Instead of what I assumed would be a couple of tablespoons was in fact more like a half cup. It completely covered the stack. It also completely masked any flavor the actual pancakes might have brought to the plate. I still finished them but it was quite a bit sweeter and more syrupy than I would have wanted.

All around the table there were grunts of joy and delight. I stole a pinch of Angel’s regular, buttermilk pancake and wished I’d ordered the same. They were light, fluffy, and buttery tasting.

Angel’s steak was excellent though with perhaps too much mushroom and onion sauce. Adam was very satisfied with his chicken, nice and crispy, and perfectly cooked eggs.

Near halfway through I asked for coffee and they brought out a fresh carafe. It was dark and delicious. It cut through the sweetness of the compote and brought the universe into balance and order.


The food was excellent and then some. Highly recommended, great value. I know now that they tend to over-sauce things, which can be dealt with. The service was very good, attentive, sincere. When taking our order the waiter read it all back to us, a move I don’t mind since it assures that the order was taken properly. The food was all fresh and nicely cooked, the tea was very good, the coffee even better. The place was clean and tended to well, almost shiny. The bill came to just under forty three dollars, not too bad for the quantity and quality of food. I tipped well, these skinny kids need to eat more.

We left even though I was reluctant. They had brought me a full carafe of coffee, I’d barely finished a third of it. But Angel insisted since we were on a mission. It was time to buy explosives.

*Boysenberry: A blackberry, loganberry, and raspberry cross developed in the 1920’s by Rudolph Boysen.


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