Off the Griddle with IHOPapotamus at…Richie’s Place

On the corner of Hillside Avenue and Homelawn Street in Jamaica, Queens, you’ll find Richie’s Place.  As you stroll into this small diner, the booths and faux-marble countertop will remind you of the diners you’ve seen in a hundred movies.  While I was sitting there, the beat cop came in for coffee and small talk.  The other people at the counter idled over their eggs to chat with the wait staff.  I’ve been here a few times prior to this Off the Griddle visit, and each time the owner and the staff have been very friendly.  In fact, Richie’s Place would probably constitute the kind of genuine Americana diner your grandparents used to eat at.


(image from Google maps)

Confession: I didn’t look at the menu before I asked for pancakes.  It’s that kind of a place.  As I was chowing down on my short stack of two pancakes, I noticed the specials board.  I could have gotten my pancakes with home fries, toast, and tea for another two bucks.  Considering I paid $3.95 for my pancakes and tea, I still think I did alright here.  The prices at Richie’s are bafflingly low.  I don’t think I’ve ever paid more than $7 for some pretty filling meals.  I’m not sure how they can turn a profit, but perhaps it gets a lot more foot traffic than I normally see when I’m in there.

(pancake economics from The Economist)

But hey, you don’t read my column for an economic analysis of the breakfast industry, so on to the pancakes.  In reviewing my notes, I saw I initially described the pancakes as serviceable and workmanlike.  They’re good, slightly fluffy, and very filling; however, they are not fancy pancakes.  If you read this blog on a regular basis, I’m going to venture a guess and describe you as something of a foodie.  Richie’s pancakes are very good, but they are not foodie pancakes.  Richie’s is a solid, no-frills diner, and the food reflects that.  Personally, I immensely enjoy places like Richie’s.  I could happily chow down at those kind of establishments for the rest of my life.  

If, however, you are the kind of person who prefers a more unique, sophisticated, or “fancy” dining experience, Richie’s is probably not the place for you.  It’s the difference between food and cuisine.  Richie’s serves breakfast food.  Clinton Street Bakery (which is excellent) serves breakfast cuisine.  Richie’s makes a damn good pancake, but it’s a pancake you’re already familiar with.  Places like Clinton Street Bakery are more likely to offer you something new.  I love both, but if you prefer the latter I’ve given you fair warning.

All in all, I would give Richie’s Place three and a half Paul Bunyans.  It’s a greasy spoon, but it serves some great food at nineteen-fifties prices: 

Bippity Boppity Pancake

Yes, I made Pumpkin Streusel Pancakes and they are as glorious as they sound (and even better than my shoddy photography may reflect).

See the original recipe here, and mine here!

I love streusel and streusel like toppings – crumb cake, coffee cake, berry crumbles – you coat something in a brown sugar/butter topping, I’ll eat it, aaand I’ll like it.  With that being said, the streusel on these pancakes was good, but not great.  In my mind, streusel should have a bit of crunch, but all the streusel ihere got really soft, making for some slightly wet pancakes.

Granted, this might have been entirely my fault.  In my rush to get these pancakes in my belly, I think I undermixed the streusel so that there were still big chunks of butter throughout the streusel leading to meltier-softier streusel.  Ah well, you live and you learn.

(a pre-streusel topped pancake).

If you decide to take the pumpkin plunge and make these pancakes, be prepared for some seriously SWEET pancakiness. Between the sweet sweet streusel, and the pure sugariness of the batter itself, I could only eat 1 pancake before I felt like my teeth were aching from the sugar – now, that didn’t stop me from trying the pancakes with syrup or keep me from eating them in general, but I feel like it’s my duty to at least warn all my fancakes about the extreme sugar content.

Oh, and you might think the dense pumpkin and streusel filling/topping would weigh these puppies down, but these pancakes have some serious fluff to them – I guess you just can’t keep a good pancake down.

3.75 out of 5 stackies: 

Spice Up Your Life!

Get the original from Joy the Baker and mine here.

I overdid it with these…sometimes I just try too hard, woe is me.  The original recipe calls for chocolate chips, vanilla sugar, and cinnamon.   I tried to kick up the spices even more (in an attempt to channel some sort of chocolate spice cake) and added nutmeg, cloves, and ginger – it was too much.  The spices and the chocolate did not work together and left a sort of sour aftertaste – not exactly what I was going for.

Another thing to watch out for is the burning of the chocolate, as in the chocolate burns really easily.  My beautiful chocolate chunks kept melting and immediately burning.  I’m not really sure how to fix this except to be very vigilant when you’re cooking.

The pancakes are super fluffy – I’ve made fluffy pancakes before and this is one of the few where my roommate has actually commented on the fluffiness. so yeah, SO FLUFFY.  Oh, I also had a lot of fun making the vanilla sugar.

You just scrape out a vanilla bean and mush it up with sugar, and I got to use my mortar and pestle which is always +!

1 out 5 stackies (although the original recipe is probably much better): 

Turkish Delight!

(Turkish Zucchini Pancakes = Mucver (MOOSH-vair)

Despite my having a blog about pancakes, which people usually think of as being sweet, I’m really more of a savory person, so here is my pancake ode to all things salty!

I actually thought these could have been a little saltier…but they were still delicious and would be great as a side dish.  They may sound a bit exotic, but these pancakes actually have some pretty classic flavors that work really well together.

As you can see in the picture, there’s a lot of dill in this recipe, so if you don’t like dill…you won’t like these pancakes.  Sorry!  I’m sure there’s some other pancake that you dill-haters will like, though.  The original recipe also calls for aleppo pepper, which I couldn’t find anywhere near me, so instead I did a mix of red chili flakes and paprika which gave a nice kick to the zucchini.  (See what I did here).

One really important step that you should not skip, is to drain the zucchini.  If you don’t, your pancakes will be really really water-logged and they won’t cook properly.  I salted mine a bit, let them sit in a colander for about 30 minutes, and then squeezed them dry in a paper towel (you could also use cheesecloth or coffee filters).  Cheesecloth is probably the optimal squeezing medium, but I didn’t have any on hand.

I served these just plain, and they were so so good.  Lightly fried on the outside, but soft and zucchini-y on the inside.  They were also fairly thin and I got full without being stuffed.  Glorious.  These would be good with some yogurt/sour cream as well.

4 out of 5 stackies: