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The Pancake Place (Dundee)

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Address: 24 Reform Street / Dundee / DD1 1RH

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      25.03.2013 17:21
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      It always seems like a good idea but really you can get better elsewhere

      ===Hung to the Over===

      If you have ever indulged in too much alcohol you will understand the horror that is the hangover. Sweats, shivers, headaches, throwing up due to the room spinning round and round. If you're really lucky your other end will join in with the projectiles. Thankfully I tend not to get incredibly bad hangovers and when I do, a cooked breakfast will soon set me right on track for the rest of the day which usually consists of turning the heating off and on to suit my fluctuating temperature. This weekend I had two birthdays to celebrate. As I was driving for the first one, I decided I would live it up a little for the second celebration and thusly got completely tanked. The next day after a quick bus ride to go pick my car up, Allan and I decided that what we really needed was breakfast. Given that it was past one, the only place we could think of was The Pancake Place.

      ===My place or yours?===

      The Pancake Place is situated slap bang in the middle of Dundee on Reform street. It's directly across from McDonalds and Costas and right round the Corner from the Overgate shopping centre. As such getting there is a doddle. If you are driving you can either park in the Overgate or you can try and find one of the many free car parks dotted around near the city centre. If you are getting the bus, the Pancake Place is between two main bus stops that serve most of the busses in the city with no more than a couple of minutes walk to each. Taxi's can get you almost to the door, though as Reform street is pedestrian-ised you'll only get halfway down it in a taxi. It's less than a minute from the city square too, which is currently undergoing a massive revamp so will soon be somewhere quite nice to look at.

      ===Good Morning U.S.A===

      Personally I always think of America when I think of eating pancakes with other food. It's possibly because I first tried pancakes and bacon while I was in Georgia. There isn't really much American about the place, however. The décor is a little shabby. The tables and chairs quite simple with a few booths up the left hand side and a raised platform with more tables and chairs at the back. Some of the decoration is stickers from B&Q that we used to have in our house so I always look at them and think they are completely out of place in a restaurant. On the plus side, however, everything still looks clean and fairly tidy. The door is on the ground, as is the front of the restaurant and the toilets. There is not a tonne of space so I can imagine people in wheelchairs being a little cramped but certainly nothing too bad.

      ===Palace of Pancakes===

      The Pancake Place pride themselves in offering all day breakfasts and they probably get a lot of customers in Dundee just for those. I know that's all I've ever had any time I've been. The menu, however, does offer much more than this. Burgers, Panini's and baked potatoes all have their own section on the menu as well as another section for other main meals that have nothing to do with pancakes (Mac n cheese, chilli, fish and chips) As well as all of this there is a small selection of pancake based deserts and even a savory pancake section with four choices.

      I've seen some of the deserts and they all look absolutely delicious but I've never actually ordered one. As is tradition when we went in the other day I ordered a Scottish Breakfast and tea. Allan ordered a "Grandslam" breakfast with coffee. The tea and coffee arrived after a few minutes... and then we waited.

      ===Don't clap for me, it's a restaurant===

      Here we come to a slight downside. I've always noticed that the service seems quite slow. To add to that the place always seems really, really loud even when it isn't that busy. I don't know if the acoustics of the place play tricks on you or if it's that I'm usually hungover when I'm in there but, by Christ, the punters are always incredibly loud. There seems to be a child that lives in the restaurant who likes to hide under tables and scream at the top of its lungs. There's always at least one table who's conversation is far too loud and a lot of the people who eat there look like (and act like) students. Mostly, it's nightmarish. On this particular occasion our order for two was contending with the table of 20 fashion students (who never seem to have any fashion sense) who were loudly shouting about penis, doing cheerleader chants with clapping and one of whom actually broke out into "Don't cry for me, Argentina" trying to impress the surrounding tables and wondered why no one clapped for her when she had finished her (admittedly surprisingly good) completely inappropriate performance in the middle of everyone's lunch. It was cringe worthy how attention hungry she was being without even knowing. We ended up waiting about half an hour for our food to arrive. Half an hour of listening to obnoxious, up their own backside student types when we were hung-over. This, unfortunately, isn't a rare thing either. I've been in a few times where the wait has almost had me walking out and I have friends who HAVE walked out. There are the rare occasions when the place isn't too busy when you get your food within a decent time but mostly the wait is frustrating. So why do we keep going back? Sometimes you just want a pancake for breakfast.

      ===Upon Arrival===

      After half an hour the food finally came. Our tea and coffee had been pretty much finished and the dregs were cold. We weren't asked if we'd like any more drinks when the food came and it never occurred to us till the waitress had left the table. We done a little re-arranging. I don't like fried eggs but Allan does. He doesn't like mushrooms but I do. Everything was swapped and exchanged that we didn't like and off we went into the land of eating.

      My Scottish breakfast (£6.90) consisted of two pork and beef sausages, bacon, a fried egg, a slice of black pudding, tomato, mushrooms and either potato scones or pancakes served with 2 slices of toast with butter and a little jug of maple syrup. The sausages are quite nice though quite obviously cheap stuff. I'm ok with that though. The eggs have always come out with a nice runny centre not looking too dirty from overcooking. I still give them to Allan though. I much prefer a boiled egg. The black pudding is quite nice though a little too spicy. Mushrooms and tomato are what you would expect. Allan sometimes gets both potato scones and pancakes, they just add a little extra on to the bill and he says the scones are lovely. The pancakes (three) are always delicious and taste nice and home made and cooked perfectly. Just as well really. The bacon is ok, but then I'd eat anything if you called it bacon.

      Allan's Grandslam cost a little more coming in at £8.50. For that he received two pork and beef sausages of the same quality as I did, two rashers of bacon (though it was more like four), two fried eggs, black pudding, haggis, tomatoes, mushrooms baked beans, toast and the choice of potato scones or pancakes (he went with potato scones). So basically he paid £1.60 for an extra egg and a slice of haggis... which he realised afterwards that he didn't actually like.

      The only thing that tends to cause any issues (though not so much for myself) is the bacon. I can eat bacon however it is presented to me whether it has been burnt to a crisp or just threatened with the pan for a second or two. Allan, however, hates bacon that hasn't been incinerated. He's not the only one either. I know loads of people that prefer their bacon one way or another so why they don't ask how you'd like your bacon done is beyond me. Especially considering they use quite thick and large (and cheap) cuts of bacon that are full, full, full of fatty bits. Allan is usually left with a pile of bacon that he won't go near and it's a shame as a little more cooking could solve the problem for him.

      ===Peeing in Private===

      As most people tend to like to go to the loo in private, most restaurants have toilets that are not in the middle of the restaurant. I usually need to go to the loo when we sit down to a meal, partly because my body has terrible timing, partly because I need to know the loos are clean. It's just rude not to have clean loos. This is one area where the Pancake Place excels. They always have incredibly tidy and clean toilets. Since I usually get Pancakes with maple syrup, I need to go wash my hands after I've eaten to get the sticky syrup off (I usually get tiny amounts on my hands which then becomes incredibly sticky because that's what syrup does!) and I have no worries about doing this in the toilets here. They always have tubs of anti-bacterial hand-wash on both the sinks and everything else in there is sparkling and smelling fresh. Kudos to them.

      ===My my, that's expensive===

      I generally always leave the pancake place thinking "hmm, we could have went up the road and gotten that a lot cheaper and quieter" and it's true. The price you'll pay for a Scottish breakfast in the pub up at the end of the street (less than a minute away) is about half of what you'll pay here. Add on their pancakes and bacon and you'll end up paying less and having a lot more on your plate. Ok, at that point you're talking maybe a pound difference, but in these times of austerity every penny counts (or so I keep hearing). The clientele tend to be a lot quieter up there too.

      ===Words are wind===

      As much as the waitresses are always generally quite polite and nice, they tend not to really do much if you do complain. When we were paying and only after Allan had put his card in the machine were we asked if everything was ok. Allan was on edge thanks to the shenanigans of the flamboyant (see rude) table that had been there the whole time and quite bluntly told the waitress "well, actually no, the food took ages to come, the restaurant was incredibly noisy the whole time and the bacon was undercooked" the response being a simple "oh, yeah, sorry we were quite busy today!". The same has been said to friends when they complained previously. Not quite good complaints handling skills, though at least she didn't drag him into the kitchen to have an argument like has happened to me once elsewhere when I complained about a steak.

      ===The Verdict===

      For what it is, it's ok. If you catch them on a quiet day the food is decent (if not slightly overpriced) and the service is good with the staff being perfectly polite and attentive. Catch them on a busy day (so, most days you'd want to go) and it all goes out the window unless you're the biggest table. The food we've had has been alright, though not exactly anything special though the deserts do look spectacular. Overall it's one of those places that always seems like a really nice idea and then turns out to be just OK. I'd give it three stars out of five.

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