Sunday, July 12, 2009

It’s Not a Pig in a Poke

. . . it’s Pig’n Pancake.

Starting with $100.00 and $2,000.00 in used equipment, Bob and Marianne Poole opened their first Pig’n Pancake in Seaside, Oregon in 1961. They now own five Oregon coast restaurants, one each in Astoria, Seaside, Cannon Beach, Lincoln City, and Newport. All are open for breakfast and lunch, and the Seaside and Astoria spots are also open for dinner.

It was laundry day, and as has become traditional, it was going out for breakfast day. At first glance, the Cannon Beach restaurant looks small from the exterior--but looks can be deceiving.

There is a small front room with booths, but the restaurant extends back and over a stand of trees

and the large windows in the back room make it seem as if you are dining in a tree house.

The breakfast menu includes a selection of omelets, egg combinations, waffles, and skillets. But we wanted pancakes. Or so we thought. Then I saw potato pancakes on the menu (made from fresh shredded potatoes), served with applesauce and sour cream with two slices of bacon, and knew that no regular pancake would suffice.

To be frank, I chose wisely. These were exceptional. These were better than the potato pancakes I had at a restaurant in Lambertville, NJ (and whose name I can’t recall) and had heretofore been my potato pancake standard. The shredded potatoes had been mixed with just enough chopped scallion to give them a mild onion flavor and the pancakes were fried crisp on one side but were still soft on the other. I suspect that they had been cooked under a domed lid that let the steam cook the potatoes while the one side was crisping. And, when topped with a small amount of applesauce and sour cream, they became breakfast nirvana. And the bacon on the side was smoky and slightly chewy. I thought that my order contained five three-inch cakes. To my surprise, when I packed up what I thought was the fifth cake to take home, there was a sixth in hiding.

Now when faced with a choice of buttermilk pancakes, blueberry pancakes, pecan pancakes, or banana pancakes, what do you think Chuck would choose? You’d be wrong. He ordered the Swedish pancakes with lingonberries (and a side of hash browns). Who is he? Do I know him? What’s he going to do next? Start sky diving?

His breakfast was also exceptional. The pancakes were thin, lacey, and slightly sweet with the tart lingonberries offsetting the sweetness of the pancakes. When I saw his hash browns, I suspected that they were frozen from a box. But the menu states “fresh,” so I will take them at their word. These were fried crisp on both sides and were grease-free.

We returned a few days later. The day was gray and rainy and no one was on the streets. They all were in Pig’n Pancake. Vowing to eat light, Chuck ordered the garden skillet – eggs scrambled with broccoli, red onion, red pepper, onion, zucchini, and jack cheese. This came with two slices of sourdough toast and a bowl of mixed fruit (blueberries, strawberries, grapes, watermelon, honeydew melon, and cantaloupe). Now I said that he vowed to eat light. Does that mean he forewent potatoes? What do you think?

I wavered between the apple crepes, the strawberry crepes, and the strawberry blintzes . . . I ordered the Dungeness crab and cheese omelet. With this I had my choice of three buttermilk pancakes, a muffin, or hash browns and toast. I chose the latter.

To me, Dungeness crab has a taste similar to blue crab. But, given that they are so much larger than the Maryland blue, the pieces of meat tend to be larger. My omelet was literally stuffed with large pieces of crab complemented by good mild Tillamook cheddar cheese. A very rich, but a very satisfying meal. With the omelet came a small cup of cocktail sauce. I thought that the sauce detracted from the sweet flavor of the crab, so I used it instead with the hash browns.

A very good, but not perfect, restaurant. After you have received your food (and your check at the same time), the servers seem to forget you are there. Getting a refill on my iced tea was an ordeal. So Pig’n Pancake gets 4.5 Addies for the food, but only 3.5 Addies for service for a total score of 4.0 Addies.

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