|My take on ABC Carpetís Pancakes:|
First, let me say that as much as I like pancakes in general, every cake Iíve ever had, every cake Iíve ever made--after a fashion, becomes cloyingly sweet to me. No matter how much I adjust the sugar in the recipe or the syrup on the cake, I can feel my blood sugar go through the roof after one or two ďcakeĒ. Often, I have something savory like sausage or bacon with my pancakes, just to counter this reaction (yeah, thatís it, I increase my fat and cholesterol intake because pancakes make me do it!). Still, I love pancakes on many occasions, but they are not my first breakfast food of choice. So, I search out great pancakes, looking for transendental paradigms, and ahope to end the pancake cloying curse.
For this occasion, I went about this as scientifically as I could, considering Iím getting paid zilch for this, and no one asked me to do it, and I have no life in general. I ate lightly two hours before the meal so as not to let my hunger cloud my judgment (A croissant and hot chocolate at the City Bakery--4 Stars) I also walked around a bit at Union Sq. And environs as a warm up for the test. And I waited till the magical New York City hour for having pancakes: 10 AM EST (9AM EDT). In rural areas Pancake Time is much earlier considering how much like a dog youíve had to worked.
I walked into the Parlor Cafe which to me looks like a movie set to a post-apocalypse movie (The subterranean set in BENEATH THE PLANET OF THE APES). The wait staff is indifferent, but they didnít tick me off. I ordered the ďBottomless plate of Elaineís pancakes with real maple syrup.Ē And as a test of both my will power, and the talent of the pancake master, I decided not to order a side of cholesterol. It was quite easy, the pancakes cost $8.50, which is way too much I donít care how bottomless the plate is.
What came was a cut plate of six slightly larger than silver dollar size cake sprinkled with powdered sugar, and two little picherettes of maple syrup. Oh yeah, some cantalope squares, blueberries and a couple of other fruits on the side as decoration. But there was no dollop of butter on the top cake, and no pats of Land oíLakes on the table. Skepticism. Okay, pour the ďreal maple syrupĒ (yes, it was warm, but barely) judiciously over each cake (damn, they were hot!). Then take that first butterless bite. Whatís this I taste? A hint of ham drippings skillfully married into each light fluffy morsel of these cylindrical masterworks. My stomach turns--not at the pancakes, but at the thought that Iíve just sounded like Ruth Reichl fawning.
The pancakes are good, not cloying, not leaden, not over-rich, not artificially aired up. And though they look like Aunt Jemima Originals slightly thinned out with more liquid, they have been made with some skill, because even though they are infused with a taste of a good salty ham, theyíre not oily or overpowered by the ham. I finish the stack, wash it down with overpriced designer coffee that at least is not burnt to hell like Starbucks, and reluctantly order a second stack(Hey! My plate's empty here!). Iím really full, having eaten two hours before, but I had to see if this ham-cure infusion was not just some happy accident.
The second stack is smaller, only 4 cakes, no fruit adornments, but the bacon infusion is still there. Perhaps, the cakes are lightly buttered before theyíre served with a ham flavored spead. I canít really tell. They donít seem oiled, yet they are not dry and could be easily and gleefully eaten without the syrup. And they didnít send my blood sugar through the roof, yet they could easily be rich enough to satisfy me after a reasonable fashion.
Thatís the upside of ABC Carpetís Parlour Cafe Pancakes. The downside is: As good as theyíre just pancakes, and for $8.50 Iíd rather have eggs and lox, or a decent corned beef hash, or even a mediocre
eggs benedict. I donít care how bottomless the plate is, itís flour, milk, eggs, leavening and oil. Stuff I have at home, stuff thatís cheap to buy and easy to make. Theyíre better than any restaurant pancake Iíve ever had, but Iíve made better pancakes (though, admittedly, they cloy) than this. If the price for ABCís pancakes were $3.50 and the plate even had a bottom, I would say the taste was transendental. In the meantime, Iím just going back to my kitchen and make some tests to see how I can more skillfully infuse a ham-cure flavor into my flapjacks.