Saturday, December 19, 2009

I went to IHOP for Holiday Hotcakes

When IHOP’s PR rep contacted me and asked if I’d like to try their Holiday Hotcakes, I responded that I was up for it.  There are IHOPs all over the place, but I don’t think I’ve been to one in at least 7 years.  No particular reason, I just haven’t.  The offer included a $25 gift card to sample the holiday fare.  So today, Surfer Guy, Chip, Lulu, Surfer Guy’s Mom and I went to IHOP.  On the way in, I told Chip that when I was a kid, it was calledpancakes2 “International House of Pancakes” and they all had pointy roofs.  He just looked at me.  While we waited a few minutes for a table, I took the time to analyze the menu and speak with the manager.  Since the focus of my visit was the NEW Holiday Hotcakes, I aimed to figure out how I could try them all.  According to the press release that was sent to me, “IHOP is now serving NEW Holiday Hotcakes in traditional and beloved holiday flavors like spicy gingerbread, sweet pecan pie and pumpkin pie, and creamy eggnog”.  They offer four ways to order the hotcakes: a la carte, which is two pancakes only ($2.50) and combinations: The Sampler includes 2 eggs, 2 each of sausage, ham and bacon and hashbrowns ($8.69), The Big is the same as The Sampler minus the ham ($7.49), and The Regular is 2 eggs, hashbrowns and a choice of bacon or sausage ($5.99) note: prices vary depending on location.  While I was talking to the manager, I learned that I could order just one pancake for $1.25!  This little gem of an idea is not on the menu, from what I could tell.  Here is where you are going to laugh.  I really don’t like breakfast food that much.  I often eat lunch or dinner type foods for breakfast.  Surfer Guy and Surfer Guy’s Mom (SGM) love breakfast so they each ordered The Regular combination, SGM chose the pumpkin hotcakes and Surfer Guy went with the eggnog.  That left me needing to complete the quadruple play so I ordered one pecan pie hotcake and one gingerbread.  Chip and Lulu shared a kid’s order of mac & cheese, because, that’s pretty much all they ever eat.

Our food arrived fairly quickly and, as a side note, I was thrilled to see the kid’s mac & cheese came with a side order of fresh fruit.  Since I was on assignment, I grabbed a wedge of both Surfer Guy’s eggnog ‘cakes and SGM’s pumpkin ‘cakes before they tucked into them.  They also sampled my gingerbread and pecan pie.  Interestingly, all three of us ended up with the same opinion of the four Holiday Hotcakes.  Here it is broken down:  the eggnog is very good, the vanilla cream layer and the butter rum sauce make it especially yummy, the pecan pie is delish with pecan pie sauce and pecans.  Both came with tasty pancakes and were cooked by someone who knew what they were doing.  The pumpkin pancakes were good pumpkin pancakes, that’s about it.  They were kind of in an unfair competition because they just come plain, you add whichever “syrup” from the “syrup corral” you choose whereas the eggnog and pecan pie come “pre-sauced” if you will.  The disappointment on the table lay with the gingerbread hotcakes.  The consistency was just wrong, the taste was overwhelmed by a baking-soda-ish note coming through.  Chip was really excited about the gingerbread hotcake appearance because of the red and green sprinkles. Chip is all about sprinkles.  Let’s see…What else can I tell you…Ok, well, breakfast is served all day at IHOP.  I actually might recommend the eggnog and pecan pie pancakes as dessert more than breakfast.  I think it might be a fun thing to go in and grab a cup of coffee and one hotcake, nice inexpensive snack.  Also, I was interested to see that many IHOP locations are open on Christmas day, including the location we visited today.  I perused the menu and saw that they have a lot of lunch and dinner options that have nothing to do with breakfast as well as lighter option menu items that include the nutrition information.  I also noticed that my location has a kid’s eat free with adult entree purchase and a senior citizen buy-one-get-one free entree offer going on.  So, over all, I’d say we had a very nice experience at our local IHOP and I recommend it for people looking for an affordable family restaurant, especially this time of year.  Our bill came to a little over $32 (plus tip) which in addition to the dishes described above included two kid's drinks and two cups of coffee.  I still can’t figure out why they call them Holiday Hotcakes if the place is the International House of Pancakes…Maybe for alliteration?

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