Thursday, June 02, 2011

Another Everyday Restaurant Review

Reviews of ordinary, everyday restaurants that non-foodie people might go to.

Original Pancake House.

Sunday early afternoon, my spouse and I decided to try the OPH in Westgate Mall in Fairview Park.

Handicapped Parking was available, usually a good sign, however, we were not seated immediately. The girl behind the front desk was dealing with money and someone’s check. Two apparently idle employees were leaned against the wall, not looking at us. The hostess finished her transaction and then there was a discussion with a fourth employee about what was open. Apparently, there were no booths available and we were to wait until one was. I spoke up and said a table would be fine and we were seated immediately. There were several empty tables available as we walked to our seats.

The table seemed clean enough but I was soon to learn that that was an illusion. We were given napkin wrapped silverware, an empty coffee cup and menus. The menus were sticky. A few minutes later a waiter wandered by on his way back to the kitchen and asked us what we would like to drink. I ordered hot tea, not asked which kind I would like (there are several options listed on the menu), my hubby ordered coffee with cream. After about 10 minutes, I saw a plate with a metal pot and another coffee cup full of hot water snake its way on the table from behind me. Scared me to death! My hubby also got another cup, this one full of coffee. He wasn’t brought the requested cream. The empty cups were taken away. Later on in our stay, we saw the Greeting of the Customer done properly; the waitress brought menus and had a thermal coffee pot in hand to fill the empty mugs on every table. That made more sense.

Another 5 – 10 minutes went by before we were asked for our order. My hubby still had no cream for his coffee. We put in our orders, omelets and bacon. The omelets were to come with pancakes as well.

Five more minutes passed before my hubby got his cream for his coffee.

After 20 – 25 minutes, we were finally served our food. We were both out of beverages. I asked for more tea. I got another plate with a small aluminum pot full of hot water and another tea bag, again delivered from behind me. Good thing I didn’t move suddenly! No one brought my hubby more coffee. He finally saw our water go by and asked for coffee and he was brought some.

And now, the food! The omelets were extremely large. Apparently, they are baked at some point in the cooking process. Unfortunately, mine was way overcooked in a pan before being folded and put into an oven. There was a distinct burnt butter taste. My cheese was all on one side of the crescent shape of the omelet. The texture was off-putting and took some getting used to. Whatever they do to the eggs to get them so fluffy is not necessary. I make better omelets at home with my cheap non-stick pan and an old lid! My hubby had a similar reaction to the texture of his eggs as well.

I had also order bacon, crisp but not burnt. Properly cooked bacon should shatter like glass when bent. This stuff was cut so think that it was still too chewy even done crisp. Only half my order was crisp. I couldn’t finish the last piece. I don’t eat raw pork in any form. And I expect better for $4.35!

For a place called “The Original Pancake House”, I thought the pancakes might just be the best part of the meal. I was extremely disappointed. The texture was rubbery, hard to cut with a butter knife, and tasted terrible! They were not only not sweet, they tasted sour. I concluded that mine were made from at least day-old batter. I don’t normally use syrup but tried a little in a hope of improving the flavor. I shouldn’t have bothered. It didn’t help. The syrup didn’t taste good, either!

While we were waiting for our food, I saw several tables bussed by an unenthusiastic young man. First, he played a little game of dumping the contents of the various mugs and glasses into each other and then stacking them rather precariously to carry away. This was very unappetizing to watch while awaiting a meal. He then came back with a wet towel and a spray bottle. He sprayed the easily accessible parts of the table top and wiped them down. He then walked away, having neither cleaned the whole, visible parts of the table but also not having moved the Condiment Cluster and cleaning under it. I checked the table I was sitting at and spotted salt and straw paper scraps amongst the salt and pepper. The salt cellar was also greasy with visible smears. This apparently the way the employees are taught to clean tables as I saw another employee do the same thing a few minutes later at another table. She wasn’t any more thorough than he was.

The dish washer back in the kitchen apparently really enjoys his job. We could hear him banging the sprayer, the dishes and the dish machine with great enthusiasm, laughing as he did so. Quite a lot of noise, actually.

And the architecture of the place is horrible. It is located in a strip mall, which is neither here nor there but, as is all too common these days, there was no ceiling, just painted support beams and duct work. There was nothing to absorb the noise of a mostly full restaurant of people talking over a late breakfast. With the noise coming out of the kitchen, the din was incredible! Why do restaurant designers not consider our ears when they leave out the ceilings? They do serve a purpose beyond being more visually appealing than bare support beams and duct work!

All-in-all, my recommendation for The Original Pancake House is to not waste your money. If you want pancakes, try IHOP or Denny’s. They both make palatable pancakes and are cheaper as well.

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