Review a Restaurant with Kevin Contest - Winner

Written by: David Parfitt (Dis name: Mouse Skywalker)

Śi Śi Monsieur – An international dining experience complete with Princesses…

Princess Storybook Dining at Akershus Royal Banquet Hall in the Norway Pavilion at EPCoT you ask?  Le Cellier in Canada?  Bistro de Paris in France?  It couldn’t be the Biergarten Restaurant in Germany?  Why no, we’re talking about the International House of Pancakes (IHOP) in Rochester, NY, a world wide culinary experience that whisks you around the globe through the power of pancakes all under a single roof.  Note - the princesses came in the form of my two daughters, Marguerite Age 10 and Evelyn Age 6 who joined me on this expedition.

This dining experience started when my wife had a Friday evening book group with her friends.  That left me to scramble for dinner with my two Princesses.  I saw a commercial on TV for “All You Can Eat Pancakes” and being adventurous we decided to try it on a Friday evening with no ADR!  Our party of three walked into the restaurant around 5:45 pm.  The ambiance and lighting resembled your local operating theater – bright and sterile.  However, with the flags of Norway, Germany, and the United States around I think they were aiming for more of a travel theme.  Therefore, I liken the ambiance to that of a travel port – perhaps a bus depot in Berlin (or maybe the cruise port in Tampa?).  Once my eyes adjust to the bright lights I spot our hostess.  I ask if it’s possible to be seated without an ADR and this request entitles me to one complementary blank stare.  Apparently I mystified the hostess so she abandoned our party to attend to the efflux of people prior to seating us.  After a five minute wait we’re escorted to an innovative type of seating unit I will attempt to describe.  There’s a large flat plank in the middle, with two lower elongated plastic seats on either side.  It seems to be some sort of international eating pod called a booth.  I believe it must be European.

We peruse the menu while waiting for our server.  Reading the menu my mind drifts to EPCoT’s World Showcase.  The international menu includes T-Bone Steak and Eggs that reminds one of Le Cellier, Italian Cheese Straws and Shrimp Caesar Salad (contributed by the Roman empire I presume), Vive La French Toast, Belgian Waffles, Swedish Crepes, and Cheese Blintzes.  The only thing missing from the EPCoT experience is “Eliminations”, but I can only guess that will come after our dining experience.  One could also get the complete around the world experience by ordering the “International Passport” described as two eggs, two bacon strips, two pork sausage links and two French, Swedish, or German crepes. 

German crepes?  Possibly they’re made from some sort of cabbage leaves. 

We order drinks while taking in the rest of the menu – two hot chocolates (Swiss?) for the Princesses and ice water for myself.

When our server returns we place our order.  I go with the house special – “All You can Eat Pancakes with Two Eggs and Hashbrowns”.  The Princesses both order something befitting their demure, royal status… the “Funny Face” Pancake made with chocolate batter and filled with chocolate chips.

Dinner arrives, and in all honesty I am pleasantly surprised.  All and all the food was quite tasty.  My dinner included the eggs and hashbrowns, which were, well, eggs and hashbrowns.  The eggs were fine if unremarkable and maybe a little bland (they needed some salt), and the hashbrowns tilted towards the greasy side.  However, the stack of pancakes was absolutely delicious.  You received two pancakes the size of a small dessert plate, and the thickness of a pat of butter, that were very light and fluffy.  Our table did not have maple syrup, but came stocked with butter pecan, strawberry, blueberry, and boysenberry syrups on it.  So while we waited for the maple syrup we tried all the other syrups on the pancakes.  The butter pecan syrup was reminiscent of an extra buttery “Mrs. Butterworth’s”.  The blueberry syrup also had a nice fruit taste, and was not overly sweet, but the strawberry and boysenberry syrups had an artificial “chemical” taste to them, and were much too overpowering and sweet.  The maple syrup eventually arrived, and that was the perfect topping for the pancakes.  Good maple flavor that complemented the light pancakes nicely. 

The “Funny Face” meal had by both Princesses was a big hit.  It was one large, dinner plate sized chocolate brown pancake filled with chocolate chips.  On top were whipped cream eyes with cherries for pupils and a whipped cream smile sprinkled with chocolate chips.  The 6 year old Princess exclaimed, “It was so GOOD!  I can’t believe this is dinner!”  Our 10 year old Princess ate the Funny Face sans syrup, but the 6 year old Princess tried some of the various toppings.  Although the blueberry syrup was described as “yeeeeeech…”, the maple syrup was quite popular and the entire pancake was devoured.  I tried the chocolate Funny Face pancake and would describe it as eating a light chocolate cake with melted chocolate inside and covered with a sweet syrup.  [Maybe we shouldn’t tell Mom what we had for dinner.] 

Our server was attentive throughout the meal, continuing to refill our water, and continuing to bring more of the all you can eat pancakes without being prompted.  In fact, he probably brought one plate too many, and the last stack of three pancakes was not eaten at all (although he did offer to wrap them to go).
           
We all finish our dinners, receive our bill, and take it to the front counter.  At this point we receive the best surprise.  Unbeknownst to us, Friday is “Kids Eat Free” night at this local IHOP.  So the cost for myself and my two Princesses to fill ourselves to the brim with pancakes was less than $10.  Truly a bargain, and a fun evening with my daughters.  OK, so we weren’t eating around the world at EPCoT, and there was no “Eliminations” fireworks show afterwards, but it was a great family evening with good food at a good price and the best company.


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