A Date with Destiny – IHOP, Nice to See You Again (New York City, United States)

It has been many years since I last visited IHOP.  In fact, I cannot even recall the last time I was there.  As I headed over to the International House of Pancakes just before midnight on a Thursday night, I remember what Jonas Blane says to Bob Brown on the first episode of The Unit, “You been training for this moment your entire life. The universe has been conspiring, if you think about it, to put you right here, right now.”  It was time to try “Everything [I] love about breakfast.”

The interior, like all IHOPs, was unremarkable. It looks like a chain restaurant.  But I don’t care if I were served food on a Central Park rock as long as the food is good. And wow, IHOP far surpassed expectations. 

Restaurant chains are a weird thing.  There is something eerily creepy about IHOP in New York City in 2012 tasting the same as IHOP in Addison, Texas in 1998. Or McDonalds in Boston South Station tasting the same as McDonalds in Monte Carlo.  Something just isn’t right. We all know this.  And yet, we eat it anyway.

And it is still delicious.  I thought my more discerning and refined culinary palette would be displeased by one of the largest breakfast chains in America.  But no, my meal was…exquisite.  Otherworldly. Peerless. Unequalled.

The restaurant was near empty upon our arrival, which led us to be promptly seated in a comfy booth with our waiter Destiny.  Now, typically, Destiny is the stage name for the black stripper at Flash Dancers (but of course, I know nothing about that).  However, this Destiny was not in fact a stripper.  It was a man.  A very nice one, in fact. When inquiring about the origin of his name, he said, “Yeah, um, my dad was a really weird guy.” I asked him his middle name, expecting something equally…exotic.  He replied, “Michael.”  How about that.

Wanting a nice, balanced combination of foods, I opted for the Pick-A-Pancake combo, which included two Cinn-a-stack pancakes, two scrambled eggs, hash browns and two strips of bacon.  IHOP described the Cinn-a-stack pancakes as “A stack of [two] fluffy buttermilk pancakes layered with a luscious cinnamon roll filling, drizzled with rich cream cheese icing and topped with whipped topping.”

One minor complaint about my meal, because I have to just put it out there.  At some point during the financial crisis/great recession/generally bad economy IHOP shrunk their pancakes.  They used to be enormous, but now they are about half the size. Annoying, and slightly less enjoyable, nonetheless…

…I hate to use inappropriate language in text, but these pancakes were fucking delicious. It was like a light and fluffy cinnamon roll topped with butter-pecan syrup.  Each bite better than the last, I wondered why of all the numerous pancakes I have had in this great city, IHOP took the #2 spot (first place is Clinton Street bakery).  It’s IHOP.  Can New York Dining really not replicate a great pancake such as this?

Tried and true, the hash browns brought me back to my days as a kid visiting IHOP in Dallas.  A simpler time. And ever so satisfying.  I miss hash browns.  Most restaurants these days opt for fingerling potatoes or something of the like.  Some good, simple shredded and fried potatoes can be such a treat. Infinitely superior to breakfast potatoes any other way. 

The bacon and eggs rounded out my meal, accompanied by my slightly watery orange juice.  I actually prefer slightly water OJ, in contrast to popular opinion. Pure OJ is actually a bit too rich under most occasions.

My dining companion opted for the Ham & Egg Melt, without the Ham.  The Egg Melt is aptly described as “Grilled sourdough bread stuffed with…scrambled eggs, Swiss and American cheeses,” accompanied by a side of French fries.  While I did not try the melt, those French fries were outstanding.  Top 10 in New York City, without a doubt. Who wouldda thunk it?

In a few short minutes, I dispatched of my meal and it sat deliciously in my satisfied stomach.  Unfortunately, it will probably continue to sit there for 72 hours or so, but that is a minor price to pay for delicious.

Destiny brought us the bill, and our late night splurge cost us $26, plus tip. A single order of sub-par pancakes at the overpriced and underwhelming Norma’s costs more than that, without any side items.  If you could trade New York restaurants on a local-only stock exchange, I would place a pair trade going long IHOP and short Norma’s.  There’s a new BSD in town.  It’s IHOP.