Monday, October 02, 2017

IHOP, 2017

Another year, another 2 visits to IHOP for free pancakes (one for my birthday, and one for IHOP club anniversary).  Start with my reviews from 2012201320142015, and 2016 to read about previous adventures.

I love my IHOP.

August 2017, Lombard Street Location

For my first visit, I went to the Beach Street location, by myself, per my tradition.

I picked this location because it usually is more relaxing and comfortable, particularly as a single diner.  It is much smaller than Beach Street, and has no counter dining, but they usually tuck me away in a little booth on the side, as I described last year.

This year though ... the experience was not nearly as pleasant.  I arrived around 10:30am, and had a 15 minute wait, longer than usual, but not unreasonable.  And then I was given the worst table in the restaurant.  I was at a table literally in the middle of the room, in the big main dining room.  People on all sides, a small little table with people bumping into me constantly.  I asked how long the wait for a booth would be (they have two person booths there too, so I wasn't actually trying to take up a bigger table), and I was told 20 minutes at least.  Sigh.  So I kept my awful table.

On the plus side, the table allowed me to eavesdrop on at least 6 different tables around me, always my favorite past time at IHOP anyway.  IHOP customers, particularly tourists from other countries visiting for the first time, are just far too much fun.

I was rewarded with a family of 5 next to me - mother, father, teenage son, and two other children.  It took them nearly 20 minutes to order, because the son was hyper-optimizing their order, trying to get the best price by finding out what everyone wanted (e.g. "How many pancakes will you eat?"  "How many slices of regular bacon?  Sausage?  Turkey bacon?"), and then trying to pack the order into IHOP's combo meals that they could split, rather than letting each person just order what they wanted.  "Ok, if we need 20 pancakes, 4 slices of turkey bacon, 2 regular bacon, 2 sausage, 4 eggs, we can get 4 combos, plus a full stack ...".  It was hilarious, really.  He also polled the group about orange juice, excited about the prospect of "premium" Tropicana (which his father tried but failed to explain was not indeed a premium product) and determining how many glasses of orange juice they should get to split.  His plan however was foiled by the unlimited refills policy, which prevents sharing.

The real fun for me of course was listening to them all say, "I normally eat 3 pancakes", and then listing off the sides they wanted in addition to the pancakes.  They were expecting, well, regular sized pancakes.  But this is IHOP.  The server even tried to warn them, suggesting that they order the short stacks rather than full stacks, and confirming multiple times, "So, you want 20 buttermilk pancakes?  Each full stack is 5 pancakes, and you want 4 of those stacks?  Not just 4 pancakes?  And not 4 orders of the short stack of 3?  You want 20 buttermilk pancakes?  Ok ... "  Note that they had other varieties of pancakes, and plenty of other sides as well.

My food took about 30 minutes to arrive, a rather long time for pancakes, but not awful.  My server did apologize at one point that it was taking so long.  I ate slowly, because I really wanted to stay to observe what happened when their food arrived.

It was everything I wanted it to be.  Mounds of food arrived at their table.  Their eyes went wide.  "How is this one pancake?  How can anyone eat 3 of these?  How could they ever eat 5?  I can only eat one of these if I'm having the other stuff!"  Very quickly, the huge scoops of butter were removed from the stacks of buttermilk pancakes.  "Why is there so much butter on here?  These are like ice cream scoops ... of butter!  Quick, remove the scoops of butter before it melts in!"  And then, when the server said, "I'll be back with the stacks of blueberry pancakes, all your eggs, and the other sides", the mother looked like she was going to have a breakdown.  I left before getting to see how far they made it through their ridiculous feast, but, they easily ordered enough food for 10 people.  Good times.
Split Stack: Cinn-a-Stack Pancakes & Double Blueberry Pancakes. $9.98.
The birthday freebie covers any of the Rooty Tootie Fresh & Fruity stacks (usually $10.79), or, any other pancake variety, up to that amount.

This year, I headed to IHOP intending to get the new-ish Cupcake pancakes, loaded with rainbow sprinkles, topped with cupcake icing, whipped cream, and more sprinkles.  I've been eyeing them since they came out.  But when I got there, that level of just sweet dessert didn't appeal.

I considered picking blueberry or red velvet pancakes again, both of which I got, and enjoyed, last year, and both of which I knew would freeze and re-heat fine.  But then I saw that Cinn-A-Stack were still on the menu.  They were in a corner, the only ones without a photo.  I've almost gotten these nearly every time I have visited IHOP, and somehow never have before.  I know that their time may be limited, and I may not have another chance (although, to be fair, they were removed from IHOP menus in 2014, but my local IHOP is one of the rogue ones still offering them).  But I also wanted blueberry.  Decisions are hard.

Stacks at IHOP are 4 pancakes (5 for buttermilk).  They only offer a short stack for buttermilk (3 pancakes).  But the combo meals with eggs, hash browns, bacon, sausage, etc) all come with stacks of 2.  Omelette combo meals come with stacks of 3.  I know the kitchen can make these other stack sizes.

So, I asked my server if it was possible to do a split stack - rather than 4 of one kind, 2 of one kind, 2 of another.  I was told that was fine, just considered 2 sides of 2 pancakes, but, she wasn't entirely sure it would work with my coupon.  She offered to check with her manager, and quickly came back saying it was fine.

Thus, I ordered both the Double Blueberry and the Cinn-a-Stack, intending to mostly eat the Cinn-a-Stack, and bring home the leftover blueberry.  My plan didn't exactly work out, but, I am very, very glad I was able to do the split stack, as I only ended up liking one variety.
Double Blueberry Pancakes (2). $4.99.
"Double up on the blueberries! You’ll get a stack of four fluffy pancakes filled with blueberries, then topped with sweet, warm blueberry compote and creamy whipped topping."

Since I knew I wouldn't eat all 4 pancakes, I asked for the toppings for the blueberry pancakes on the side, so I could pack them up to bring home and freeze.

The blueberry pancakes were fabulous, everything I remembered from last year.  Light, fluffy, puffy, great buttermilk tang, loaded with juicy berries.  They were delicious just to eat plain, good with syrup.  I did want butter to go with, but they don't normally come with it (since usually smothered in compote and topped with whipped cream), and I wasn't going to eat enough of them to be worth asking for it.

The compote was just as I remembered, sweet berries in goo, totally not fresh fruit, kinda like canned pie filling.  I didn't really like it with the pancakes, although it was good mixed with whipped cream, but I remembered the advice from the man next to me last year, and brought it home to warm up and serve over vanilla ice cream.  It is so fabulous that way!

I really liked the blueberry pancakes, and I will gladly get them again.  I eagerly await pulling my leftovers out of the freezer soon too.

A normal stack is 4 pancakes, and costs $10.79.  These were priced at $4.99 ... less than half the price.  I'm very confused how a half order (2) is priced at $4.99 ... two half orders (4) would be $9.98, cheaper than a full order, and contain twice the toppings?
Cinn-A-Stack Pancakes (2). $4.99.
"Buttermilk pancakes layered with cinnamon roll filling & topped with cream cheese icing."

The main attraction was the Cinn-A-Stack pancakes.  Finally.

I love cinnamon rolls, I love icing, and I love IHOP pancakes.  These sounded amazing, and I understood why IHOP has kept them around, even though they are supposed to be discontinued.

For the Cinn-a-stack, I did not get the toppings on the side, so they came layered with cinnamon roll filling (between the pancakes and on top), drizzled with cream cheese icing, and finished with whipped cream.  I really, really wish I had asked for the toppings on the side.  Because, I hated them.

The cinnamon roll filling was gritty, thick, intensely cinnamon-y, and I did not like it at all.  It was very generously applied on top, and even more generously between the layers (more on this soon).  The cream cheese icing was far too sweet, and again, applied in far too much quantity.  The cinnamon roll filling and icing alone add 310 calories to a regular stack of buttermilk pancakes, which, makes sense now that I see the quantity.

I tried, in vain, to find bites that weren't covered in one or both of the toppings I didn't like.  But it was impossible.  I really can't evaluate the base pancakes, as I wasn't ever able to taste them.

But I can tell you about the toppings, the toppings I wished weren't.
Cinn-A-Stack Pancakes: Inside.
The icing on top, and cinnamon roll stuff on top, seemed like too much to begin with, but what was between the layers was even worse.  Here you can see under the top pancake where I ate it, just how much cinnamon roll filling is between them.  The ratio was just all off, even if I had liked the toppings.  No syrup whatsoever was needed, or could be tolerated, with these.

The only thing I liked about these was the whipped cream, so I could use it with the blueberry stack.  It was just generic whipped cream, pretty melted.
This stack was also priced at only $4.99 vs a full stack at $10.79, which again made no sense, particularly given the extensive toppings.

I couldn't finish these, and knew I didn't want to take them home to freeze, so, I sent Ojan a message asking if he wanted me to save them for him.  He loves cinnamon rolls and Cinnabon in particular (which many people say these remind them of), but he was pretty skeptical that leftover, coated in stuff, pancakes would be any good (which, I do agree with).  Still, I brought them.

He tried them cold.  And, uh, liked them.  Really liked them.  He heated a small portion up, and said it was fine that way, but he preferred them cold.  I tried a bite, wondering if they somehow transformed.  Um, no.  Worse.  But he loved them.  They didn't go to waste. But I will never get these again.
Related Posts with Thumbnails