In the Bridge Center at the gateway to Hilton Head Island, The Original Pancake House celebrates great European pastry traditions that have evolved into American favorites. Recipes with European (mainly Scandinavian) roots form the core of the menu.
Original Pancake House owners John and Ann Bartuska took the helm of this popular breakfast and lunch spot in February. They're upholding the restaurant's tradition of quality food in a welcoming atmosphere, and have added new touches to the menu and operations.
The Oregon-based franchise has perfected many pancake recipes since 1953, ranging from familiar buttermilk pancakes to more intriguing fare including crispier, thinner Swedish pancakes. The restaurant also offers buckwheat, gluten-free, and potato versions of the classic pancake. Perhaps the most renowned dish at the Original Pancake House is the 'Dutch Baby,' a large, fluffy oven-baked pancake that's topped off with powdered sugar and then quickly served so customers can enjoy the sight of its puffed-up crust.
The Dutch Baby's appeal lies in the contrast between its crust and interior. In contrast to the evenly-aerated, fluffy body of a skillet pancake, the Dutch Baby has a light crust and inside, a denser, soufflè-like filling. The custard-like consistencymakes for a dish that is rich and moist enough to eat without syrup.
The Dutch Baby's popular cousin is the apple pancake, which is made in a similar manner, with the addition of fresh slices of Granny Smith apples. These are allowed to caramelize with cinnamon at the bottom of a skillet before the batter is added. And while these dishes get points for great presentation, owner John Bartuska says, "We let the food speak for itself."
This straightforward belief in quality is sustained throughout the menu. The ham-and-cheese omelette is fluffy enough to occupy a plate by itself, and filled with a generous amount of ham and cheese. Another deliciously light favorite, the fruit crepe, is topped with a bounty of freshly sliced berries and bananas.
The emphasis is on the ingredients at The Original Pancake House. Batters are fresh and scratchmade,all syrups are made in-house (except for sugar-free), and eggs, as John Bartuska says "are grade AA. We purposely pay more for them." In addition to high-end flours and thicker cuts of bacon, The Original Pancake House hums with the sincerity of its friendly owners and staff.
"We aim for and persue the highest quality. We believe this philosopy is what makes us a bit unique in the franchise world," Bartuska said.