As a college student on Capitol Hill, it is not uncommon to find yourself in need of some good old-fashioned breakfast food at an ungodly hour. After all, there are few things in this life better than breakfast.
For Seattle University students, there are but two options for a 4 a.m. diner dash: IHOP or Lost Lake.
Back when the latter opened, co-owner Jason Lajuenesse told then-staff writer Emily Hedberg that he wanted to offer hill-dwellers a better alternative for nocturnal dining. Now that Lost Lake’s been open long enough to work out the kinks, consider that challenge accepted.
I compared a staple item on the menu of any self-respecting 24-hour diner: blueberry pancakes.
That’s right, it’s a battle royale for the claim to fame that Will McQuilkin thinks your pancakes are best. There can be only one winner—whose short stack stands above the rest?
The International House of Pancakes, or IHOP to the layman, is a cozy little diner located right next to the Seattle U campus on
I stumbled in on a Saturday morning, bleary-eyed but excitedly anticipating the hot, pancake-y goodness I was about to put in my mouth.
I was greeted by a warm-faced woman named Gryselda. She smiled, asked how I was, and showed me to my table. Gryselda offered coffee and one more smile before I was left alone to sip my tasty beverage and further contemplate pancakes.
Fellow breakfast food lovers chatted happily around me. An older woman and her son were engaging in a lively discussion regarding the variety of seasonal pancakes and syrups on the menu (“I’ve never seen so many syrups before!”), and a middle-aged fellow to my right aggressively munched on a fistful of bacon.
Gryselda returned within five minutes and took my order. Just as I finished my first cup of joe, those four warm pancakes arrived, dotted with blueberries and held aloft by Gryselda, my saving grace covered in whipped cream and blueberries (the pancakes, not Gryselda).
The pancakes themselves were incredible, and also incredibly filling. Topped with a healthy dollop of whipped cream and blueberry compote, they hardly required any syrup. They were warm and fluffy as clouds; honestly, an angel could have slept on those things.
I left satisfied and smiling, happily paying the cashier on my way out (another genial fellow whose name I didn’t catch). I will be going back to say hello to Gryselda, shake hands with the cook and eat another four blueberry pancakes.
Lost Lake Cafe
The following morning I wandered into Lost Lake on 10th Avenue and again readied my stomach for glory. I was greeted and shown to a table near the front of the diner where I sat down and received coffee. Lost Lake had notably stronger and better-tasting coffee than IHOP.
My waiter, a tall, brawny gentleman with a dark beard, walked over and promptly took my order. He was friendly-ish, though he had a coolness about him that made him feel less warm than I would have liked on that grey Seattle morning.
The other patrons were happily gossiping about all sorts of things ranging from politics to grandchildren. “Tommy is getting fat, they should stop letting him eat so much,” said a tall, thin woman sitting at a table across from me.
Soon, my short stack arrived piping hot and delivered by my burly waiter. While shorter than my previous stack (only three deep this time), it still had plenty of substance.
The flapjacks themselves were without the blueberry compote and whipped cream; however, they seemed thicker than their IHOP counterparts. The blueberries tasted fresher than IHOP’s, but they were less plentiful, and I needed to use more butter and syrup to achieve the level of tastiness I was looking for. Still, I left full and happy.
To declare a winner seems sacrilegious, but it is a sad truth that not all pancakes are created equal. A winner must be declared, and in the case of blueberry pancakes, IHOP is the winner.
It’s really nothing against Lost Lake. I enjoyed it quite a lot. However, in the end, IHOP took the (pan)cake.
The international home of those delicious things had a warmer (though less stylish) atmosphere, more pancakes per dish and quality service, whereas Lost Lake had a cool atmosphere, fewer cakes per dish and an aloof waitstaff. There isn’t much difference between the prices: IHOP cost me $15.27 and Lost Lake $14.35 (including a 20 percent tip; it’s nice to be nice).
Lost Lake was no lost cause, and their cakes certainly weren’t flattened by IHOP’s.
But hey, they don’t call it the international house of pancakes for nothing.
Will may be reached at [email protected]