Pancake Review at: Jonathan Club

Although I always review pancakes at restaurants that locals frequent, last Wednesday was an exception for more than one reason.

A couple of weeks ago I received a phone call, followed by a breakfast invitation, from the Director of Operations at the Jonathan Club, as he claimed the Club has the best pancakes in all of LA. While I was extremely flattered that the Director thought of Ma’amCakes for this invitation, the skeptic New Yorker in me surfaced before the words of gratitude could, and I somehow replied with, “That’s a pretty bold statement to tell a pancake reviewer!” A week later I found myself in Downtown LA, walking through the historic doors of the Jonathan Club, a private, members-only social club. The Jonathan Club, which also has a Beach Club location in Santa Monica, was established in 1894 as a political group, and at one point, even had Ronald Reagan as a member; needless to say, I had to put on my fancy-pancake-pants for this review! With one glance of the 50ft ceilings, sparkling chandeliers, and custom-carved wooden walls, I had to catch my breath for a second as I was suddenly powerfully aware of the Club’s prodigious history.

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As I sat in the booth with the Director, I soon realized it was the first time I’ve reviewed pancakes for dinner! Before I could become any more astonished, a platter of three different types of pancakes was placed in front of me by the Chef himself, Jason McClain. For a moment there, I thought I was having a hotcake hallucination!

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The first pancake, The Strawberry Rhubarb Pancake, tasted very similar to strawberry shortcake, and even had sweet cream on top. The tenderness of this pancake kept me wanting more, even after I’d already taken my last bite.

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The second pancake, The Caramelized Banana Pancake, had a fiery crispness on the top, almost like that of creme brulee, and continued to warm my heart with every bite. The combination of the soft pancake with the banana, and sweet & crunchy caramel top, is a dish that still makes my mouth water when glancing at its photo.

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The third pancake, Robby’s Buttermilk Pancake, actually gets its name from Robby’s Pancake Mix– a trick I learned from Jason himself. Although the mix may technically belong to Robby, the twist put in the recipe to make a traditional buttermilk pancake taste so delicious, is a credit that Jason fully deserves.

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And in case you were wondering, my favorite of the three pancakes was… The Caramelized Banana!

Overall, the pancakes at the Jonathan Club were certainly on par with the best pancakes in Los Angeles. The service I experienced definitely validated the exclusivity and standards of excellence in which the Jonathan Club prides itself.

I wish all you FanCakes could visit the restaurant, and taste the pancakes for yourselves; however, last week’s review wasn’t just about the pancakes, but it was also about some Food for Thought. As a blogger, particularly as a blogger with an additional full-time job, you constantly wish as much time could be devoted to your blog as that towards your career. As a result, it can get somewhat discouraging if, for example, your traffic isn’t always as high as you’d like it to be. While I have had some incredible experiences thus far in my Ma’amCakes journey, receiving that phone call from the Director of Operations at the Jonathan Club was one of the most rewarding. That call proved that whatever frustrations you have along the road of blogging, you never know who is viewing your project, and what can potentially come of it.

If I had to create a title for the plated pancake feast I had last Wednesday evening, I would call it: Grateful Glamorous Griddlecakes.

For information on how to become a baller – er, Member of the Jonathan Club, click here.

Check out “Banana Pancakes” by Jack Johnson!

“Make you banana pancakes, pretend like it’s the weekend now!”

Enjoy this fun pancake song from Jack Johnson!

IN THE MIX: Pancake Review with Special Guest, LA Kings’ Dustin Penner

This weekend I was incredibly honored to have pro hockey star Dustin Penner, join me as a guest reviewer for Ma’amCakes.

In 2007 during his first full season with the Anaheim Ducks, Dustin and his team brought home the Stanley Cup. After getting traded to the Los Angeles Kings a few years later, Dustin scored a game winning goal in 2012 which landed his team in the Stanley Cup finals; on June 11, 2012, the Los Angeles Kings beat the New Jersey Devils, awarding Dustin his second Stanley Cup victory.

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Now, those of you who know me well are probably wondering why I have a sudden interest in hockey. I’ll admit, the last Ducks coach I knew of was Gordon Bombay; however, right around Ma’amCakes’ one-month birthday, a little fiasco known as “Pancake-Gate” was brought to my attention, starring none other than…Dustin! Take a look:

LA Kings left winger Dustin Penner serves up pacake breakfast to fans who gathered in Westchester for the "Pancakes for Penner" event. Photo by Brad Graverson 2-13-12

Needless to say, this was a hockey player with whom I had to get my puck on.

Flash forward more than one year later, I took a Sunday morning drive down south to Costa Mesa, California to brunch with Dustin over some good ol’ fashioned pancakes.

At the request of Dustin (and considering I’d never been to Costa Mesa), we visited local spot, Side Street Cafe, located on Newport Boulevard and 18th Street. Based on its door-verbiage, and Yelp and CitySearch love, I knew I was going to like this place even before viewing the menu.

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Reading a menu which looked like the chef’s notes from the corner of a napkin, was actually a breath of fresh air. The casual ambiance of the restaurant made me feel at home, as opposed to dining at a stuffy upscale brunch spot. I’m guessing this is why they call it Side Street? In the end, both Dustin & I settled on the short stack of Banana Pancakes:

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Just like its menu, the Banana Pancakes from Side Street Cafe felt like home. The bananas were super fresh, and the pancakes were baked to perfection. “The Banana Pancakes are excellent,” said Dustin. “I love that they have great banana dispersion. Also, because the bananas are evenly sliced, they don’t overwhelm the rest of the pancake, and you get the same consistency.” Good point, Dustin!

When asking Dustin if there were any additional pancakes he’d like to see on the menu, his number one choice was Peanut Butter Pancakes. Hey Side Street, new menu item perhaps? As we were wrapping up breakfast, Dustin suddenly had one more thing to add. “Oh, I also really like the texture. The pancakes are soft enough to eat, even with my fake tooth.” Hearing this did make me giggle. But, then I remembered that we are in LA – most people here are sporting something that’s fake!

Overall, the pancakes at Side Street Cafe were delicious; some might even say, they’re fit for a King.

Thank you so much, Dustin, for being a part of Sunday brunch with Ma’amCakes! For more information about the Kings’ charity, The Kings Care Foundation, click here.

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