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Original Pancake House

In a word: Everyone likes breakfast!

The specs: #0446  
Address, hours & details via Isthmus; reviews at Yelp, Daily Dadio, Original Pancake House on Urbanspoon; official web site.

Beth ate the 1/2 order eggs Michael with coffee.
JM ate the French toast and Canadian bacon.
John ate the eggs Michael with bacon and coffee.
Nichole ate the spinach crepe with coffee.
Sean ate the apple pancake.
The kids split the chocolate chip pancakes.
The bill was about $90, or $11.25/person, plus tip.
JM, John, Liam, and Sean gave Original Pancake House an A; Owen gave Original Pancake House an A-; Lily and Nichole gave Original Pancake House a B (see our grading rubric).

Latest Original Pancake House news and reviews

In the Madison years running up to Eating in Madison A to Z, this group of friends ate together most every Saturday morning at Original Pancake House (in fact, JM and Nichole breakfasted there with the wedding party on the big day, flaunting taboo). Back in those days, when JM quipped in an office newsletter, "Thanks to BK and OPH for contributing to JM," he wasn't kidding. We reconvened specially for the List to see if the magic of that earlier time was still there or if our carb-saturated and sugared memories were simply the product of post-college overeating.

Spinach crepeWhat did we find? Nothing much has changed about OPH since 1999 other than the prices. There's something to be said for that, when it comes to breakfast comfort food.

While this spinach crepe is decent for what it is - a mass-produced crepe - halfway through Nichole suddenly caught herself wishing fervently that she was at Bradbury's. OPH's crepes are filled and filling, but the batter is heavier on the oil than maybe it should be, which leads to a damp breakfast.

Apple pancake

Gone are the days when more than one of our party would polish off almost a whole apple pancake in one sitting. Which is fine all around, because one of these bad boys literally provides all your calories for the day, and besides, leftovers are delicious as a cold sliced dessert. As Sean summarized:

In a world of delicate flavors and gourmet ingredients, it's big and dumb. But in a world of big and dumb, it's delicious and surprisingly sophisticated.

The sophistication lies in the multiple textures, from the custard body to the baked apple slices to the sticky syrup to the occasional cherished lump of cinnamon sugar that's not quite caramelized.

French toast and Canadian baconJM's go-to breakfast was always the French toast, potato pancakes, and Canadian bacon. He loves it for what it is: a big breakfast. The sweetness of the powdered sugar against the wet grease of the CB was always tasty if not always healthy. 

Eggs Michael and potato pancakesJohn misses this.

Beth and Nichole were both the lucky recipients of potato pancakes with their meals. The potato pancakes are worthy of admiration, being the filigreed patties they are. Apple sauce and sour cream are both fine accompaniments but don't load the pancakes down with them too much, lest they lose their charms.

OPH is kid-friendly, too, with ample furniture, a family atmosphere, and at least some coloring sheets for distraction. The kids yummed up the chocolate chip pancakes, and Lily's only problem was that it was cold outside during the 15-minute wait.

Should we have given all that business to OPH back in the day when Madison boasts so many good places to break your fast? Eh, probably not. But a good meal shared with friends is a rare commodity and the less time spent asking "Where do you wanna eat?" the better (obvs). OPH is good for the camaraderie, if nothing else.

Comments

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See, having spent a good deal of time looking for a new Breakfast spot these last two years, I'm actually a little dubious about Madison having "many" good breakfast places. I might be wrong, but I perceive a disproportionately small number of places that do a good breakfast.

Honestly, I don't like breakfast.

I love OPH, especially when strawberries are in season and I can have fresh strawberries on my pancakes.

I recently had the vegetarian omelette, and it was HUGE and full of beautiful veggies, including some delicious bright green broccoli. What cracks me up about the omelettes is that they serve them with pancakes - as if a 4-egg monster full of filling isn't enough!

And the bacon. Oh, the bacon.

Woah, that apple pancake looks crazy good. And I don't even like apple as an ingredient in other food.

Pretty good breakfast. Extremely heavy and unhealthy. Bacon and potato pancakes are especially noteworthy, but the bathrooms here are kind of gross.

Haven't been there in a years, but that apple pancake looks awesome.

It's the excellent service that has always distinguished this place. My family has been going to Original Pancake House since deep into its Hilldale days, and many of the waitstaff are still there. They're always friendly and efficient.

My father loves the Spinach Crepes...they do a good job, not letting the spinach get too wilted.

Mom loves anything with fresh strawberries...usually the waffles.

I usually make a beeline for the omelets.

My brother almost always orders pigs in a blanket...which sounds appalling to me but suits him just fine.

OPH isn't gourmet, but it's fresh and tasty. And the service, as I said, is excellent. If you get there after 8 on a weekend, be prepared to wait for a table. Mother's Day, don't even bother to try.

what happened to oriental wok?

It's a shoe store.

Oh...well, they still deliver out of Edo. Damn good Chinese delivery...especially if you Suhi, hot-n-sour soup, and Happy Family all in one go, plus free eggrolls.

which meal is shown in the first photo?
Also Sean's summary statement sounds perfect!!!

Ken: that first one is the spinach crepe with potato pancakes.

CC: What is it with that block and the matryoshka-style restaurants? "Fresh Express" once had its own Eats listing and turned out to be a section of the Falbo Bros menu; now Oriental Wok uses an imaginary address and hides inside Edo? My tiny alphabetical world is being shaken to its roots!

OPH is OK, except portion sizes tend to be tiny. Swedish pancakes are occasionally good, but often are small, thin, and dry.

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