Thursday, January 8, 2009

Breakfast: The most important meal of the day

Richard Walker's Pancake House in Downtown San Diego
I never used to be a breakfast person. It's only in the last few years that I have come to appreciate breakfast in the more traditional sense of the word. As a teen, spaghetti was my take on breakfast! I would make a pot on Monday, and have a little bowl of it for breakfast before school each morning. Kids, whatta ya gonna do??

Since becoming a more traditional breakfast eater, I've been on a little bit of a quest to find places that can do it right. So far, at the very top of my list is Kono's...between the food, the service, and the atmosphere (the beach!!) you can't go wrong there, really.

Recently this quest has brought me to Richard Walker's Pancake House in downtown San Diego. It's located at 520 Front Street, and it's easy to spot out because there is almost always a long line heading out the door. Don't let this dissuade you from visiting, as it usually moves pretty quickly, or at least moreso than most places.

The interior of the restaurant is beautiful and almost frenetic in it's energy. The staff is fast moving, carrying plate after plate of delicious looking (and smelling!) food to the tables. It's not a huge location, to be certain, but it's not clausterphobic as some smaller places can be.

I took a friend with me, figuring between the two of us we could take a wider sample for time I'll bring more! There is so much to try! From pancakes to waffles, omeletes to salads. And for those of you who still don't care for breakfast foods, you can always grab a BLT and a bowl of Ribble Soup! I can't vouch for the soup just yet, but I will be back and I'll try it then. Now, for the first visit, I wanted to try the "Signature" of the house: Walker's Apple Pancake.

The most popular item on the menu, much hyped in the press, it lived up to its reputation on sight, at least visually. An impressively large twelve inch pancake, smothered in tender-tart baked apples and exotically scented cinnamon, it was certainly a sight to behold. I was worried, though, because I'd seen other examples of this particular dish that were dense, heavy, and I was pleasantly surprised to find that the pancake itself was light, almost airy. Moist, but not too much so, and richly flavored with egg and cinnamon and vanilla notes. The aroma of decadence wafted up from the plate as I cut into the Granny Smith apples, each coated with a generous sprinkling of Saigon cinnamon and sweetened with a hint of sugar. I'm surprised I didn't drool.

The best part is, it tastes as good as it looks and smells. The apples were cooked just enough; not too soft, not too crisp. Tart-sweet with just enough sugar and well, you can never have too much cinnamon in my book! Add the pancake in with the apples, and it's near nirvana. Near, I said. Nirvana comes when you wash it down with a cup of hot, black coffee. Sweetened coffee would have definitely put it over the top.

My friend, who is not a fan of apples (can you imagine!?) decided to sample the waffles instead, and added an omelette to her order, so she'd have something to take home for her man. Although tempted by the Blueberry Flap Jacks, which boast wild Maine blueberries in the batter *and* a blueberry compote topping, she decided instead to go with the Strawberry Patch Belgian Waffle. Unlike many places that use frozen berries, this waffle was topped with fresh, sweet berries, along with whipped cream and a dusting of confectioner's sugar. Light, toasty and sweet, it was a perfect accompaniment to the Double Cheese omelette, which features both Swiss and cheddar cheeses.

Half an hour and a second cup of coffee later, we are both sated and happy and certain we will be returning to try some of the many other choices on the Richard Walker's Pancake House menu.

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