Thursday, September 9, 2010

Pannenkoeken

This summer, my good friend Michael Berger (MFB) had an internship in Chicago and lived in Lincoln Square. As a big fan of JEC he often called me to go grab a bite. Because of him, I hit up some of my favorite spots including Great Lake Pizza, Chicago Brauhaus, and Dee's Mandarin Restaurant. It was a plan of ours to go out for brunch before he went back to Champaign, but because of poor planning on my part this never materialized. MFB had a place all picked out in Lincoln Square that he'd been to previously and said I had to try.

This past weekend Noam and Lisa wanted to grab breakfast somewhere. Pannenkoeken, MFB's suggestion, has a location in Wicker Park in addition to Lincoln Square, and that's where we decided to go.

Logistics
I've never seen a restaurant as bare bones as this one. I'm not necessarily saying that it was a bad thing, but it was a little odd. The room was very disorganized with tables strewn throughout. There was probably enough seating for 30 people or so. The whole restaurant was seemingly run by two waitresses with no hostess, manager, or bus boy to be seen. The kitchen was in the back with a window looking in, and it also seemed minimally staffed. I felt like they had recently found a gutted store front and slapped together a breakfast joint. If they wanted to, they could probably pick up and move locations in an hour. At the same time, our service was pretty good besides the lack of water refills.

There is pretty minimal seating, but we went at 10:30 and got sat right away. For some reason, this place isn't really getting packed, and I think it's because it's a little separated from the other main restaurant strips in Wicker Park. The hours are a little goofy with the restaurant only open for breakfast and lunch on the weekends so that they can close for private parties throughout the week. The location in Lincoln Square has more regular hours.

The cost is very reasonable for breakfast. You'll probably spend $7 on your main dish, and coffee drinks are around $2. It wasn't an extremely large amount of food, but there was definitely enough to make it worth your money.

The Food
The majority of the menu is a selection of Pannenkoekens (dutch pancakes) with different toppings (some sweet and some savory). The three of us decided to share the Apple Pannenkoeken, the Veggie Pannenkoeken, and the Spinach and Feta Omelette. I'd only ever had a dutch pancake at Walker Brothers before this and was expecting much of the same (a large, thin, doughy pancake with heaped up sides). It wasn't necessarily the same, but the texture was still there (just not the heaped up sides). Both Pannenkoekens were delicious. The Apple had a nice layer of thinly sliced apples and whipped cream, while the veggie was littered with mushrooms, broccoli, peppers, and cheese. The Veggie could've used a little something though and was kind of bland. Maybe a hollandais or some other sauce would've done nicely. The Omelette was very nicely done as well. It was loaded with spinach and feta, and the eggs were cooked just the right amount. The hash browns on the side were a little dry and not necessarily all that hot when we got them.

 The Veggie Pannenkoeken

The Apple Pannenkoeken

 The Spinach and Feta Omelette

Overall
I had a tough time getting past the bare bones feel of the restaurant. It reminded me more of a cafe than a brunch restaurant. Still, I was impressed at how well they were able to manage with so few staff members. I think when we needed change for our bill the waitress went into her purse. The food was very tasty, but nothing that will blow you out of the water. I think I'd like to try the location in Lincoln Square to see if it is any different. Mostly, if you're looking for a place to get an efficient breakfast in with some flavor then this is your place. Not having any crowd to fight was a nice touch as well. I'm giving Pannenkoeken 3.5 out of 5 Pearls.


pannenkoeken Cafe on Urbanspoon

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