There’s something inherently nostalgic about pancakes. That idea of friends and family gathered around the stove in anticipation of the first flip triggers memories of season’s greetings, lie-ins and lemon and sugar. A great idea for a restaurant then? Especially for a food that can be enjoyed at any time of the day – breakfast, lunch or dinner, whether sweet or savoury. Enter Where the Pancakes Are, an eatery totally dedicated to this comfort food. After a host of successful pop-ups and stalls at festivals, Patricia Trijbits found a permanent home from which to sell her buttermilk pancakes, Dutch Babies and her vegan takes on the dish.
Situated in the Flat Iron Square, a space that has very effectively regenerated Southwark and its Low Line, Where the Pancakes Are has great potential. It’s certainly attracts the crowds, as could be judged from the very long queue that had already formed by 11am when my companion and I arrived. Like the pancakes, the place itself has a Danish aesthetic with wooden, minimal Japanese/Scandi-style interiors that were constructed – entirely – in Amsterdam before being shipped whole to London, and installed in the railway arch they now call home.
Though simple, there’s so much that can be done with pancakes. M1lk’s take on them elevates this humble food into an elaborate art form. Where the Pancakes Are’s menu successfully offers a great choice: sweet or savoury, classic or gluten- and dairy-free, simple or innovative.
Sweet or savoury is an age-old brunch dilemma. Their cinnamon poached pineapple “hummingbird” pancake, served with house cream, lime syrup and zest, pomegranate and toasted coconut, sounded like a real crowd pleaser, albeit overly sweet? As it had just past midday by the time my companion and I finally secured a table, I went for the latter in the form of their alternative “vegan breakfast” (£11): a plate of two vegan pancakes, smashed avocado, roasted pepper and cherry tomatoes, garbanzo bean salsa, Portobello mushroom and a tahini-nigella dressing.
Light and airy, the well-sized, fluffy and sumptuous pancakes were definitely the star of the show. It’s no surprise: their vegan batter blends organic buckwheat and rice flour, soy milk and chickpea water. As such, they don’t leave you feeling overly full. Though I appreciate now that this sell is unlikely to convince most of you to switch to this milennial, “free-from” take on the dish…
It’s definitely a winning batter – don’t get me wrong – but everything else on the plate totally underwhelms, not least the whole roasted pepper and poorly presented Portobello mushroom. You’d think the kitchen would pay as much attention to the plating of their savory dishes as they do for their sweet takes. It looked as though it had been plated straight from its plastic wrapping; from packet to table – not such a ring to it.
All-in-all, though I liked the pancakes themselves, the end product was definitely not worth the queue. The plate looked rugged. Little attention had been paid to the seasoning. Perhaps their sweet pancakes are more worthy of the queue? Or better still, just whip up a batter at home and make yourself – that’s the fun of pancakes after all.
Where the Pancakes Are, Arch 35a, 85a Southwark Bridge Rd, London SE1 0NQ