We hadn’t intended to go to The Original Pancake House. One goes to Convoy for excellent Asian food, not old Americana, but alas, upon arrival at 10:30 a.m. David and I realized that all of our usual joints weren’t open yet.
David suggested that we switch gears and go classic brunch. I don’t consider myself a breakfast person, but upon hearing the word “pancake” my salivary glands came to life and I was swayed.
There was something comforting about the space. We were greeted and seated by smiling staff and handed giant laminated menus. The striped wallpaper, white trim, and chandeliers with candle-like bulbs, along with antique accents such as wall racks displaying dishes, contributed to the interior’s “old country house” feel.
I was disappointed to learn that this “original” restaurant was actually a chain and that the real original pancake house was in Portland, Oregon. But there was an aged quality here, an experienced smoothness to everything, so I let myself give in to the fantasy that it had been around since long before I was born.
The service was fast and friendly — there was always at least one person roaming the room with a pitcher of coffee in one hand, ice water in the other. I ordered the Irish Omelette ($13.50), which came with a stack of pancakes. The menu indicated that the eggs would be “fluffy,” but we were still amazed at the dimensions of the three-egg dish. David said that they must have whipped the egg whites to get it so fluffy.
The omelettes are oven baked in a skillet, and this one (which also contained freshly ground corned beef brisket, potatoes, onions, and cheddar cheese), had a light crisp crust around the exterior. It was savory and satisfying but also gigantic. I ended up taking most of it home, and David and I split it for brunch the following day.
“They’re not big on plating,” David said when appraising his dish, The Ever Popular Joe ($13.50), a scramble with ground sausage, onions, and chopped spinach. True, the food’s appearance was sloppy and monochromatic, but we agreed the bites — fresh, flavorful, well textured — made up for the lack of a parsley sprig and slice of orange.
3906 Convoy Street, Kearny Mesa
At a nearby table we saw one of the house specials, the Apple Pancake ($13.25). Roughly the same shape and slightly larger than the omelette, it looked like an apple turnover, with caramelized granny smith apples and cinnamon glaze baked with the pancake in a skillet and then flipped over so all that sticky sweet stuff would be on top.
Though I wouldn’t want that for a meal, I could see going back with a large group and getting one to share for desert. Perhaps next time I’m thinking of dim sum, I’ll steer the crowd down the street and into The Original Pancake House.