Off the Griddle with IHOPapotamus at…the Clinton Street Baking Co. & Restaurant

(Don’t know who IHOPapotamus is? Get the deets here.)

Greetings, pancake enthusiasts.  My first stop as the new guest writer for So You Think You Can Pancake was the Clinton Street Bakery, located, appropriately enough, at 4 Clinton St. in the Lower East Side.

4 Clinton St, Manhattan, NY 10002

(pic from Google maps)

I arrived about noon on a Sunday afternoon.  The restaurant is small and several people were standing outside waiting for a table.  I had anticipated that getting a table might be a little tricky and called earlier for takeout.  My takeout order was ready in 15 minutes, so if you’re willing to have breakfast outside, that might be a better alternative than waiting for a table.  The Bakery does not take reservations on Sunday, so if you prefer dining inside be prepared to wait.

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(pic from nycgo.com)

I ordered blueberry pancakes.  I got three fairly substantial ones with maple syrup and some sort of blueberry syrup/spread.  I wasn’t too impressed by the latter, but the maple syrup was excellent.  The syrup had a light tan color and was much sweeter than your typical Mrs. Butterworth type syrup.  It was served slightly warm, which I really enjoyed.

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(pic from Piece of (Chocolate) Cake)

The pancakes were excellent, and lived up to the hype I had heard about them.  They were very light and spongy.  The outer rim was light on blueberries, but as I worked my way to the center there were plenty of berries.  The Bakery mixed in the perfect amount of blueberries for my taste; enough that I got to enjoy them, but not so much that the entire pancake was blueberries.

About halfway through my breakfast I felt I would still be hungry when I finished the pancakes.  I made a mental note to order a side of bacon next time I came here; however, I realized that wouldn’t be necessary when I finished.  The serving size turned out to be perfect; too much more would have started to ruin the taste for me.

I liked what I saw of the Bakery from when I was in there.  It’s small enough to be described as cozy.  The staff was all smiles, if not a little rushed by the Sunday brunch crowd.  My only real gripe would be the price.  I’m probably just cheap, but I have a hard time paying $14.50 for three pancakes, even if they are delicious.  It seems pretty typical of the menu, which can be found here.

All in all, I enjoyed the Clinton Street Bakery and their blueberry pancakes. 

(A note about IHOPapotamus’ rating system: Who is known for his prodigious love of the great American outdoors and pancakes the size of small cars?  Why, Mr. Paul Bunyan of course.  Like few others, this folk legend embodies the enthusiasm for a well made pancake and new experiences that is “Off the Griddle.”)  

So, allow me to rate the Clinton Street Bakery with 4 out of 5 Paul Bunyans: 

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A new feature!

Hey there Fancakes!

I know you all eagerly await my weekly posts to see what new pancake creations I’ll write about, but I’m also sure that some of you wonder, “What else is out there?”

(photo from itsnature.org)

Well, the answer to your eternal question is about to be given to you.  On the last Sunday of each month I will be putting up a new monthly post, “Off the Griddle with IHOPapotamus.”  My trusted pancake-reporter-at-large will bring you his thoughts on the pancake hotspots of today.  In his own words, “I’ll seek out the best pancakes in New York City, or wherever I happen to be. Hopefully, you’ll enjoy these places as much as I do!” 

Apam Balik

Malaysian Peanut Pancakes – sign me up!  Get the original from My Kitchen Snippets and my version here!

So, I may have goofed a bit with this recipe, but these pancakes were still amazeballs.  like as in balls of amazing.  like you need to eat these.  now.  in real life.  They’re veryhearty pancakes – my roomie and I shared 1 for a meal.  My main goof was making these pancakes a bit too thick so they were definitely heartier than they’re probably supposed to be, but still, it’s basically a  fluffy pancake peanut sandwich which is at least one of the dictionary definitions of “hearty.”

(just waiting to be devoured!)

Something I did right, though (per usual…well, more usual), was using salted peanuts.  The original recipe didn’t really specify what type of peanuts to use – except for Malaysian-style roasted peanuts (at least that’s what I assumed).  Since I don’t know what Malaysian-style roasted peanuts are, I just substituted good old roasted peanuts that I chopped up in a food processor.

Sooo, yeah, these pancakes may sound exotic (code word for difficult to make), but they really weren’t.  Are you still here? Go make some pancakes SON!

almost 3.75 out of 5 stackies: 

Breaking Brown

Brown rice pancakes, that is.  Healthy you say? Sort of.

These pancakes weren’t the greatest.  Granted they’re made with brown rice and whole wheat flour which I guess is a bit healthier than your ordinary pancake mix, but mostly they’re “healthy” because you won’t want to eat very many…Get the original here and my modified version here!

I was really excited for these pancakes since I almost always have leftover rice but these pancakes didn’t really live up to my excitement.  For one, the original recipe says to let the batter sit for 10 minutes – I’m not entirely sure what this is for but I suspect it’s to: (1) let the batter rest and (2) let the rice soften a bit.  Well, it didn’t work.  The rice I used was a few days old and I think it really should’ve sat in the batter for at least a few hours if not overnight.  As they were, the pancakes tasted sort of like stale Asian rice paddies…in a bad way (is there a good way?)

(needing to sit longer)

The pancakes look pretty thin in the picture, but they’re actually really dense and solid – I think the pancakes are basically super compressed.  In my recipe I’ve given directions to add more milk and to beat the egg whites separately, both of which should help to lighten the pancakes up a bit.  These pancakes also overcook easily so make sure you babysit them. If you decide to go with the original recipe, I found that a bit of jam made these a lot easier to eat since they come out a bit on the dry side.

2.5 out of 5 stackies: 

Serabi Beras

aka Indonesian Rice Pancakes

First things first, have you ever heard of pandan? (If you just want to get your serabi beras on, get my recipe here, and the original at J’s Kitchen).

(picture from pandanasiancuisine.com) Well, I haven’t, it’s also known as screwpine and is apparently a pretty common flavoring used in Thai, Indonesian, Filipino, and other southeast Asian cuisines…at least that’s what Wikipedia says.  I’d never seen/used pandan before and I had a bit of a hard time tracking it down.  I ended up ordering a bottle from importfood.com.  The extract I ordered was bright green which is pretty common, although you can get uncolored pandan extract.  You can also use fresh pandan leaves and boil them in water to extract their flavoring but I’m not sure exactly where you would get fresh pandan leaves or what the proper technique for extracting their flavor is.  The pandan has a sort of nutty flavor, it reminded me a bit of taro and I’ve read that a lot of people compare it to the flavor of jasmine rice – whatever the comparison, it’s pretty delicious.

(pandan flavored batter).  My only fault with the pandan is that it makes the coconut sauce sort of look like slime and once I thought that, I had some trouble eating it…although it was delicious.

This was also an adventure into using coconut milk…

and I liked it.  First, in the pancakes, I added a bit more coconut milk than the original recipe called for – I think this made the pancakes slightly less thick.  The batter without any extra coconut is extraordinarily thick and made my first few pancakes difficult to cook all the way through.  Second, the sauce is deliciously coconut-y.  I guess you don’t have to eat the serabi beras with the sauce and without it, they’re have a mild salty flavor with just a hint of coconut – the sauce really kicks them up a notch though.

Last thing, make sure you cook these pancakes all the way through – because of the rice flour, these pancakes are very starchy and if you don’t cook them thoroughly, they have sort of a weird gummy texture – not exactly what you’d call appetizing.

3.5 out of 5 stackies: 

Foxy Boxty

Potatoes?

If you’ve never heard of boxty, they’re traditional Irish potato pancakes (get the original recipe from chow and mine here).  When I first mentioned making boxty to a few of my friends, a lot of their responses went something along the lines of, “oh, if we’re talking potato pancakes, then I’m a latke-boy/girl.”

(mmm, nothing like some fried potato!)

I, of course, love latkes, but boxty are not just the “Irish version of latkes” – they certainly may come from the same pancake genus (pancakius tuberosum), but they’re definitely not the same species.  Boxty are more like the ultimate hash brown.  They’re creamy but still textured on the inside, crunchy on the outside, and a bit on the thick side.  The boxty I’ve had in restaurants is usually a bit thinner and seems to be deep-fried, but after perusing several online boxty recipes, I think my thicker variety are just as authentic.

Their great texture comes from the mix of mashed and grated potatoes.  The mashed potatoes give the boxty a creamy smoothness while the grated potatoes keep the boxty from being too mushy.  Make sure you strain the grated potatoes of most of their liquid – it keeps the batter from getting too runny and preserves some of the nice “mouth-feel” of the grated potatoes.  Served with some sausage and swiss chard, this has to be one of the best classic meals ever.

Frankly, the Irish may have perfected their potato-ing in boxty and in the words of the immortal Irish folk rhyme:

Boxty on the griddle

Boxty on the pan

If you don’t eat boxty

You’ll never get a man.

4.25 out of 5 stackies: