A tale of two breakfasts: Dupars versus Original Pancake House
- orythedog Oct 25, 2007 11:22 AM
One of my favorite breakfasts is a short stack of pancakes, bacon and a good cup of coffee. Seems pretty simple, huh? Well, this is a tale of two breakfasts that although they sound the same, couldn't be more different. Last night I went to Dupar's in Studio City and ordered the aforementioned short stack, bacon and coffee. I might also mention that previously I had only been to Dupar's for breakfast. I ordered this meal as a "number 1" as in the number one special. When the waiter asked me what kind of dressing I wanted on my salad, I clarified that I wanted the breakfast special #1. While I am waiting, I'm drinking my coffee (Farmer Bros) and thinking that this is the weakest cup of coffee I have ever had. Fast forward: Pancakes arrive with drawn butter on the side (like what you would get with a lobster tail) instead of whipped, and a plate of 4 strips of bacon instead of the two I expected. The bacon, while perfectly crisp and tasty too, was thin and of marginal quality. Next the pancakes: two were perfectly cooked, one over cooked. The issue though is that they were dry, really dry; so much so that it took two sides of syrup to make them passable. My meal ends, check comes and the total is a WHOPPING $14 (tax included) not including tip! It seems that the #1 breakfast special is only offered 6-11am for $7.95. Otherwise, the pancakes are $5.95, side of bacon $3.95 and coffee $1.95. With tax and tip, this was over a $16.00 meal. Now, I am not cheap. In fact, I think that there is no such thing as an expensive "good" meal only an expensive "bad" one. Dupar's is average at best. I don't see why people go on and on about how great their pancakes are.
Compare this with virtually the "same" breakfast I had at The Original Pancake house in Redondo Beach a couple of weeks ago. Same deal: Short stack of pancakes, bacon and coffee. In this case the pancakes are the 49er flapjacks which are the size of a plate, thin, moist, chewy and a bargain at $6.99. The bacon is thick sliced with a slight smokey flavor and of the highest quality; $3.79 for 4 slices. Finally, the coffee. It's their own premium roast and it is yummy $2.25. The place is always packed and there is always a wait. They are only open for breakfast and lunch. This meal cost $15 (tax included) not including tip. To be fair, I think that Dupar's is going for that retro dive diner feel and Original House of Pancakes is likely catering to a different audience. The differences between the two are VERY striking in terms of quality of ingredients. Your thoughts fellow chowhounds?
I've never understood the posts that claim Dupar's pancakes to be the best. My experiences, like yours, have been that they are some of the worst, dryest flapjacks around. Perhaps there was a time, back in the 50s maybe, when Dupars knew what they were doing, but these days their food in general is marginal at best, and their pancakes suck.
Du-Par's pancakes are the only ones I find edible other than the ones I make at home precisely because, unlike the dry and mealy crap everyone else serves that falls apart the moment syrup is applied, the Du-Par's cakes actually have some texture and chewiness to them.
I will say that since Du-Par's was purchased by the Tiny Naylor's folks a couple of yeras ago, the hotcakes served at the Studio City branch have disappointed me on several occasions, and they do not bear much resemblance to the ones I'd been eating for about 30 years prior.
This summer, I visited the newly re-opened Du-Par's in Farmer's Market, and noticed that the hotcakes served at that location are much closer to what I remember. They profess to be using the same recipe as always (press clippings make a big to-do about the safe in which they supposedly keep the secret original recipe), but if they're really using the original recipe, I sure wish they'd return to using the one that's been in place for the last couple of decades, as it's much better. Perhaps they're only using the original recipe at Farmer's Market? That would make no sense at all, but then again, people sometimes do things that don't make any sense.
I dined at a branch of Original Pancake House a few years ago (I assume they're all using the same formula), and found their pancakes eminently forgettable. Not bad, but completely the same as pancakes served everywhere else.
As far as not seeing that the menu explicitly states that the breakfast specials are m-f, until 11 only (excluding holidays), it's pretty conspicuous, but your server definitely should have told you that you'd have to order a la carte (which is why you got a full side of bacon).
I've always wished Du-Par's served whipped butter, rather than melted, but that's how it's always been.
I dream of going to the OP house, but they cook their cakes in Peanut oil (?!?!) thus rendering them deadly to me. What a shame.
So I stick to O' Groats.
Although I want to try Gaffey St Diner and The Griddle, too! (also the Pine Cafe)
The dutch apple pancake at Original Pancake House is great! But it is like pancake meets apple pie...so ridiculously huge and decadent that no person could possibly finish one for breakfast.
The reason Dupar's pancakes are so loved is the flavor and the crispy outside and fluffy inside. Most other good pancake places have the taste nailed down but they are soft from outside to inside which just turns to mush when you add syrup.
Maybe ordering pancakes for dinner he got a not so good batch but I have never had a bad stack in the 25+ years I've been going to Dupar's but of course it is possible. The same thing goes for waffles which should be crispy on the outside and soft on the inside. When they are soft all the way through the taste is just not enough to make a great pancake or waffle.