Move over Denny’s, there’s a new breakfast King in town. And I use the word “new” very loosely. I’m talken about IHOP here. With the first IHOP opening in the 50’s it is difficult to call it “new”.
I reside in a major city, the capital city of my province, Edmonton Alberta, and this past December we got our very first International House of Pancakes. Up til then, we were saddled with Uncle Albert’s, Smitty’s, Humpty’s, and Denny’s to get our breakfast fix. With the exception of Denny’s, all of the others mentioned above require that you must be either hung over, still drunk, really cheap, short on time, or ravenous in order to swallow their culinary abortions (thank you Stewie Griffin for that colourful phrase). They aren’t really THAT bad. But pretty close. Denny’s was the shining star in our city’s breakfast menu dining. The cream of the crop. And in a way that was really sad. When watching TV I frequently watch American channels. And I see the commercials for the restaurants they have there. And one of the advertised restaurants is IHOP. The dishes they prepare are so fancy. And look terribly tempting. And completely fattening and indulgent. It always bothered me that we never had an IHOP here. Not because I want to eat like a glutton, but because I want to try some of the fantastic creations they come up with. I love to cook, and I love to eat. Don’t think that I am a piglet though. Far from it. I only weigh about 115lbs.
Anyway, being completely unaware that an IHOP had opened in my city makes me feel a tad foolish. But I admit it none the less. It wasn’t until very recently that I learned of its existence. And of course no sooner had I learned of it I began making plans to go. So with my boyfriend at my side, away we went. And what an experience! We have been back twice since.
I love pancakes, my own home made, out of a box, or restaurant style. And I have had some good pancakes in my day. But IHOP takes the cake! I mean MY GOD!! Talk about the perfect pancake. So fluffy, and absorbent, and the texture is perfect and the taste can’t be beat. Soooo good. Incredible really. I don’t think I would be able to eat pancakes at any other restaurant without comparing them to IHOP’s. And it’s not just the pancakes that are paramount. I had this scrumptious concoction that was pure pleasure to devour. They called it “Stuffed French Toast”. It was made up of raisin bread prepared as french toast, stuffed with what tasted like a cream cheese frosting, drizzled with fruit and whipped cream. OMG! So good I could have cried. The topping choices were strawberries, blueberries, or apple compote. I went with the blueberries and that was such a good choice. If you only get one chance to hit the IHOP, I highly recommend this dish.
Aside from that, I also tried one of their newest creations: Cinn-A-Stack Pancakes. These are a stack of fluffy pancakes, each one topped with cinnamon bun filling, then the whole stack topped with a cream cheese icing drizzle, and a dollop of whipped cream. It was delicious. Not as good as the stuffed french toast, but still very good. Oh yes, and the one desert that we sampled was the Fruit Filled Crepe. One large crepe rolled and filled with the fruit of your choice (strawberries, blueberries, or apple compote), topped with more fruit, two huge dollops of whipped cream, and a scoop of vanilla ice cream. The flavour was perfect, though the crepe itself was a bit on the fat side. But I like my crepes authentically thin; practically transparent. Still though, I would order it again. Perfect for sharing and very tasty.
Now lets talk about the staples: eggs, bacon, sausage, hashed browns and coffee. I had my eggs scrambled. And they were hands down the best scrambled eggs I have ever had. I don’t know what they do to them, I don’t know how they make them so good, but they are flawless. Smooth, tender, yet firm, and rich in taste. Flawless.
The bacon is a very smokey bacon. I for one LOVE a smokey bacon, but don’t know that it is for everyone. But as far as bacons go, I thought it was fantastic. My boyfriend thought the bacon was a touch too smokey, and he also thought the bacon was too thinly sliced. I agree with him on that note, it was very thinly sliced. But it was salty splendor the way bacon should be. Not too crispy, not too chewy, and never stringy.
As for the sausage, to me it was a disappointment. To my boyfriend it was some of the best breakfast sausage he had experienced at a restaurant. It was not usual. It had a fine flavor, but what I didn’t care for was the texture. It seemed to be missing something. Worth trying, though I would not order it again.
Next up, the hashed browns. They were grated potato style, common these days. My preference is the cubed pieces of potato, but that seems hard to come by. As far as hashed browns go, they were pretty par. Nothing spectacular, nothing special. Run of the mill.
Which brings us to the coffee. I have had both the high-octane and the unleaded and I think that my summation is similar about both. The coffee is average. It seems to be a dark roast, but watered down. Not the best cup of coffee, but it will do the job to wash down a fine breakfast.
The only other item we tried was the sirloin tips. Smothered in gravy and sautéed onions, these sadly were a huge disappointment. I was unable to eat them as they tasted like liver. And the smothering was almost non existent. They may have had a bit of gravy on them, but by no means did they measure up to their description or menu picture. I don’t recommend them and wouldn’t get them again.
All food aside, if you are going to hit up the IHOP in my home town be prepared for a long line-up (30-45 minutes), a cafeteria setting, and a noisy family dining experience. If you are prepared for that, the food is well worth it, and the price is a fraction of what we would pay at the Denny’s. Ample parking though. All in all, I give this IHOP a 4.5 out of 5.