Remember when almost every “fancy” restaurant featured at least one “deconstructed” dish? Or how kale came barreling into our lives in the late 2000’s? Food trends come and go, but not all are as delicious as this year’s: Unique pancakes.
Forget what you know about the classic flapjacks coated in butter and maple syrup, pancakes are getting a major makeover all over the globe. For example, in Japan, pancakes on a stick are becoming all the rage. The cute treats are called “Kushi Pancakes” or “Skewered Pancakes.” The tiny pancakes are skewered on a stick with slices of fruit and marshmallows.
Savory pancakes are also finding their way onto menus. Basically: Remove the sugar, and you’ve got a savory pancake that is a blank slate for big flavors. The most common types being served these days are usually riffs on the traditional American-style fluffy buttermilk pancake, or the thinner, crispy Korean green onion pancakes. For example, at State Bird Provisions in San Francisco, sourdough pancakes with sauerkraut(!), shaved pecorino and ricotta have quickly become a house favorite.
Pancakes are also getting a makeover in a major way here in the Emerald City, and here are some of the top spots to find them.
My Sweet Lil Cakes. While folks in Japan may be enjoying tiny skewered pancakes, here in Seattle we can indulge in a large sweet or savory hotcake on a stick! The adorable My Sweet Lil Cakes food truck serves pancakes in the shape of corn dogs and are stuffed with layers of fruit or artisan meats and cheeses. And, as their website proudly proclaims, “Things really do taste better on a stick!” Of course, they wouldn’t be a Seattle favorite without offering vegan, vegetarian and even gluten-free options.
If you’re going savory, try the Manny’s Beer and Hickory Smoked Bacon pancake with cheddar, jalapeños and ranch. If your sweet tooth is making the choice, I love the Red Velvet Buttermilk pancake with dark cherries and cream cheese drizzle.
Tilikum Place Cafe. This cozy and inviting Belltown restaurant serves up Dutch baby pancakes that are absolutely stunning. (Dutch baby pancakes are sometimes called German pancakes, a Bismarck, or a Dutch puff.) It’s a sweet popover that’s baked in a cast iron pan. It puffs up during baking and then falls after it is brought out of the oven.
Tilikum serves the classic version of this pancake with lemon and powdered sugar, but has also taken them up a notch with both sweet and savory versions. They’re constantly changing up the recipe, but right now you can enjoy a sweet Dutch baby with candied kumquats and white chocolate, or a savory pancake with broccoli, bacon and Beecher’s cheddar.
Shaker and Spear. The cornmeal ricotta pancake at Shaker and Spear is hands down one of the best pancakes I’ve ever had. It’s thick, but still light and fluffy on the inside, tasting a bit like decadent cornbread. It’s topped with a huge dollop of ricotta, melted butter, fresh blackberries, strawberries and blueberries, and warm maple syrup. Be still my heart.
Like Tilikum, they’re also currently featuring a Dutch baby pancake, classically served with lemon and powdered sugar.
Chan Seattle. As I wrote earlier, riffs on the standard green onion pancake are making their way onto menus all across the country. At Chan Seattle, “Seattle’s only Korean Gastropub,” the Seafood Scallion Pancake takes the classic Korean crispy pancake to a new level by adding shrimp, calamari and jalapenos. If you’re willing, it’s certainly big enough to share. I like pairing it with their Lychee Rickey.
Revel. Seattle’s Revel serves the mung bean variety of Korean savory pancakes, and always has three different flavors on the menu: The pork belly with kimchi and bean sprout, a seafood pancake, and a vegetarian pancake. Right now, the seafood pancake is filled with smoked mussels and Brussels sprouts, while the vegetarian version is made with mushrooms, sunchokes, and watercress. The pancakes come with several dipping sauces, including: soy-ginger, spicy fish, and sweet chili.