The Original Pancake House in South Redondo has been around forever. It has that cool old school vibe you just can’t get from a franchise like IHOP. The batters and sauces are made in house, and they make their own sourdough starter for the Flap Jacks. The kitchen uses fresh whipping cream and eggs, and hard wheat unbleached flour. Imagine my surprise when I did a quick internet search and discovered the OG Pancake House is a franchise with over 100 locations across the country. According to their website, The Original Pancake House was founded in Portland, Oregon in 1953 by Les Highet and Erma Hueneke, who collected recipes from housewives all over the world. The business is now run by the third generation of their family.
In spite of the big crowds on weekends, everyone is seated pretty quickly because the space is huge, and the servers don’t lollygag. Your order comes out, and it comes out fast. Coffee is always refilled before it hits a half a cup, and as soon as you think about asking for more iced tea, they have brought you another one. The servers know the menu backwards and forwards and are able to steer you toward a less expensive combo or tell you when you should split a dish.
Besides reliable, high quality food and quick, friendly service, something I appreciate in a restaurant is a show-stopper, like an entire pig head or something on fire. The OG Pancake House has a definite show stopper with their giant Dutch Baby. It is served plain with lemon, whipped butter and powdered sugar on the side. During the summer, order a side of strawberries to fill the concave center of the puffed pancake. If you really want to make fellow diners crane their necks as your plate whizzes past them, order the Apple Pancake. It is denser than the airy Dutch Baby and is topped with cinnamon glazed apples like a tarte tatin or upside-down cake.
The standard pancake is buttermilk, which is used as a base for blueberry pancakes and other riffs on pancakes, like Hawaiian and Georgia Pecan. The batter for the Flap Jacks is made with sourdough starter, giving the pancakes an added dimension and a slight tanginess. The crepes and Swedish Pancakes are each made with their own batters. The Swedish Pancake batter is rich with melted butter. They are served with loganberries on the side, just like they were in the countless Swedish Smorgasbords popular during my childhood.
The omelettes, which are rolled in a pan and finished in an oven, are also humongous, definitely enough for two people. The Eggs Benedict come with a luscious hollandaise, and the potato pancakes are pleasantly crisp. Corned Beef Hash is also a specialty of the house, and even a side order is impossible for one person to finish. Although I am opposed to the mallification of America, when the food is this good, I say go ahead and build one in every town.