Pancakes in this country seem to be very much a neglected food only eaten once a year on Shrove Tuesday. I have always loved them and have fond memories of the Scottish chain of restaurants the Pancake Place. My partner Duskman is a very fussy eater so eating out can be a nightmare, as he does not like anything too spicy. Thus there are only a handful of cuisines he will eat. Luckily when I am sick of Italian or good old pub food there is an alternative in Manchester; namely whopping great pancakes at decent prices from the Dutch Pancake house in Manchesters City Centre.
The location of the restaurant is very accessible being on the corner of Oxford Street and St Peters Square, opposite the tram stop and Central Library and only a few minutes walk from Piccadilly Gardens.
I think one of the biggest problems with the restaurant is its exterior. Its a basement restaurant so the facade you are greeted with is a grimy, glass lobby with stairs going down to the actual dining area. It is not ideal. I find it unpromising and unwelcoming and could put a lot of people off, well those who knew it was a restaurant as it is easy to walk by and miss it.
Luckily the interior is more promising. It is homely rather than stylish with the decor little changed from when the restaurant first opened in the 1970s. Theres pictures of windmills and comfy but slightly shabby light pine tables and chairs. What I do like about the restaurant is that the tables and chars are well spaced so you are not too close to the next table of diners.
I have never had to book or queue at the Dutch Pancake House and have been seated very quickly by friendly, polite staff. One thing that I would like to comment on was the physical state of the menus. On our first couple visits to the restaurant they were just sheets of printed paper and becoming rather tatty, but have improved with redesigned, laminated menus, which hopefully will be more hard wearing.
So whats on the menu? Pancakes, pancakes and more pancakes. There are no starters just savoury pancakes for mains and sweet ones for dessert. Luckily the range of toppings is pretty vast so as long as you like pancakes there is something for everyone. They have a range of spicy specials s chicken curry, spicy Thai, Chinese duck and chili con carne that have a chili rating to gauge the strength of the toppings. Non-meat eaters do not miss out, as there is a choice of several vegetarian options including ratatouille, Courgette Sunrise and vegetable curry. For those who like simpler toppings I would suggest the Traditional Dutch (bacon and maple syrup) or the Hawaiian (same as a Hawaiian pizza, ham, pineapple and cheese. For the really picky eater there is a make your own topping.
The sweet pancakes sound just as good. They have a range of rich sounding toppings with various, fruits, nuts, sauces and even boozy ingredients such as Malibu alongside cream or ice cream.
Foe those who do not like pancakes are a few alternatives. There is a small selection of both sweet and savory waffles and a handful of salads. I have never tried the salads and only once tried a bannofee waffle (which was pretty tasty if my memory serves me well), but why have anything else but pancakes if that is what the restaurant specialises in.
There is a childrens menu with a selection of smaller pancakes. I cannot remember seeing it recently so cannot comment on the variety of pancakes offered to children.
The drinks menu is not extensive but is adequate with a selection of soft, hot and alcoholic drinks.
The good thing about the Dutch Pancake house is that it does not break the bank. Savory pancakes start at about £4.50 and go up to £7 for the specialty pancakes with more pricey ingredients such as the seafood and Chinese duck pancakes. If you want a really cheap meal go on Thursday, as selected pancakes are half price. The drinks perhaps are not the best value with half-pint glasses of soft drinks being about £1.40.
The next thing you will want to know if the food tastes as good as it sounds. The answer is yes. I have never had any complaints about the food. The pancakes are absolutely massive. You could just about paddle in the huge plates that they are served in. they must be about a foot in diameter. The pancakes are very thin and on first glance do not look substantial. Sometimes the filling is fired with the batter like the Courgette Sunrise; some will have the filling on top of the pancake, whilst others will be folded over with the filling in the middle. Unless it is stated such as tortilla chips with the chili or popadums with the curry pancakes there are no extras such as salad. However you do not need them. These pancakes are extra filling thus eliminating the need for a sweet. When I have had one I have felt stuffed to the gills.
I like this restaurant it makes a good venue for a family treat or venue or else an impromptu supper. They have colouring sheets to keep the kids occupied. It also would make a nice change for a mid afternoon shopping break if you are bored with the ubiquitous Starbucks. I am not sure it is quite the venue for an intimate romantic dinner. Its best shared with family and friends.
However I do have a few minor quibbles with the restaurant. My dining experience was slighted marred when I realised that there was a big crack in my plate once I had finished my pancake. Hopefully this plate will be disposed of, as it is a hygiene hazard. The service although very friendly can be quite slow but perhaps this is due to all the pancakes being cooked freshly
Would I recommend the Dutch Pancake house? Well I have been there five or six times and will certainly be going back. It may have its faults but the pancakes there are pretty tasty!
I like balance in my life. So if I spent the morning I the gym, I feel obliged to eat some chocolate as soon as possible after leaving. And when I get free cinema tickets I feel that since I'm getting entertainment for nothing, I'm allowed to go out for a meal or snack afterwards despite being on a student budget. Last week we went to see The Italian Job, Finding Nemo and In America all for free, so that meal had definitely been earned, and we headed to the Dutch Pancake House which is handily located less than a minutes walk from the Odeon. The menu contains, as you might expect, pancakes. Sweet and savoury ones, but fewer of the former and more of the latter. They also have waffles, ice cream sundaes, cake and, randomly, salads on offer. Drinks, cold and hot are available but rather pricey (approaching £2 for a small coke) and the range is not extensive. We both ordered pancakes, Sally one straight off the menu, and I a variation which they seemed happy enough to make up for me. They came in huge flattish bowls. I say huge and I mean it - probably 60cm2 each. The dolloped toppings were in the centre (things like ice cream and fruit) and the drizzeled ones all over the surface of the pancake (things like sauce and in some cases cream). We thought the toppings were generous, but I think this depends on which chef is working on the day you go as friends had come home from here the day before complaining they only got what turned out to be less than half the ice cream each that we were given. The pancakes were perfectly nice, but not as outstandingly wonderful as I had hoped from a place dedicating themselves and their name to the production of the things. They are crepe rather than American style, so wafer thin, but they managed to serve up perfectly cooked specimens apart from the odd burnt spot in the centre. The ice cream seemed to be supermarket own brand - not cheap watery Value stuff but also not Haagen Dazs. I haven't tried the s
avoury ones but speaking to people who have thy seem to receive mixed verdicts depending on the topic - the bacon and syrup "typically Dutch" one being much better received than the chicken one for example which, as friends so nicely put it, contained lower quality bird than you'd get from the McDonalds or KFC down the street. Ice cream sundaes, though essentially just ice cream and sauce, were served nicely in tall glasses and looked appetising. The ambience of the place is not what I had expected. Walking past you see the lobby area and the staircase, but most of the action takes place at the bottom of these. Head down and you find yourself in a bright enough room with huge wooden tables and few decorations from the post 70s era - the décor really would make Austin Powers proud. Definitely not the place for a romantic evening meal, but for Sunday lunch with your girlfriends it's fine. Try and avoid needing the loo though - there's only one way to describe the toilet (singular) here and that's "grotty". The staff were friendly enough, but the service was a bit slow last time considering there were only 2 other couples in the place at the time. Prices are reasonable - no pancakes are over £5 and most are around the £3 mark. For most people they don't offer a substantial meal, but they also don't come with the price tag of one. I have had better pancakes - at Strasbourg Christmas market for example - but these were nicer than you might expect for England. Despite my reservations, I suspect this is going to become our regular joint for pre and post cinema scoffing. It's open until all hours, unusual and fits a student budget which is all I'm after. *****-----*****-----*****-----*****-----*****-----*****----- Dutch Pancake House Elizabeth House St Peter's Square Manchester M2 3DH Tel 0161 228 1851 Mon - Sat 12noon - 10.30pm Sun
12noon - 9.30pm Getting there - metrolink to St Peter's Square or any bus to Piccadilly gardens and then walk for about 5 minutes following signs for the library.
I've been to the Dutch Pancake House twice (I don't know why I went there the 2nd time!) and it isn't worth going to - ok so the pancakes there are cheaper than a meal at a restaurant but they look like they cost 5p to make. The plates are huge but only because the pancakes are very thin so it looks like you're getting a lot. I ordered chicken on mine and they used the cheap kind of sliced processed chicken roll you can get cheaply at supermarkets - it was even so salty that it ruined the pancake. If I order chicken, I expect proper chicken and not cheap processed bits of chicken-type meat. The decor isn't amazing - I prefer McDonalds! They could use better ingredients for their pancakes or at least put more into them as it isn't really value for money for what you get.
If you're looking for a cheap, different kind of eaterie, the Dutch Pancake House in St. Peters Square, Manchester is worth a try. The décor's seen better days - judging by the style of the carpets, tables, and chairs, its heyday could have been in the 70s. But everything else is fine - the service is excellent, and the food is quickly served. The menu is basically pancakes, or pancakes? or salad if you're feeling awkward. So, for main course, it's pancake, with a wide choice of savoury toppings, e,g, cheese and tomato, chicken, ham, seafood, and traditional Dutch (bacon and syrup) especially gets a thumbs up. They arrive on big Delft plates (which they also sell) and are very filling, contrary to what you might expect. If you don't like pancakes, though, there's not much alternative - the salads are just about it. I've never managed a dessert here, but there are various (sweet) pancakes to choose from, with ice cream, and waffles (cherry, strawberry, maple syrup, etc) all sound delicious. Prices are very reasonable, and you should always be able to get a table here - an ideal place for a family meal.