Another "On the Road" edition.
Let that name sink in. Pancake Circus.
There is a restaurant out there in the world named Pancake Circus. Not just out in the world, a scant 5 hour drive north in Sacramento. Of course they have pancakes, that’s not even worth asking. Where, oh where, is the circus? The Studio Diner in Sand Diego is NEXT to a studio. Joe’s Diner was started by a guy named Joe. The House of Pies is next to houses. The first IHOP was located down the street from the UN building in New York… sometimes I LIE.
There is no circus here. No circus nearby, even. The only connection I can find is that there is a respected clown college located in Sacramento. This is a pretty close connection considering the interior of Pancake Circus is jam packed with clowns.
You walk into Pancake Circus and you understand it is not just a name, it is a decorative theme. Clowns and large autumnal colored animals heads….that look suspiciously like trademarked characters belonging to the Walt Disney Company.
I’m not from Sacramento, my family has just settled there. So now for holidays and birthdays I find myself travelling to the state capitol to see them. On my last trip up there I took my parents to Pancake Circus. I had eaten there years ago and was anxious to go back and review it for a Dinerwood "On the Road". Pancake Circus is actually one of the reasons I started this blog. Attention must be paid.
The place was busy as could be expected for a Saturday morning. We didn’t have to wait long thankfully but gave me just enough time to sneak some of these interior pictures.
Once seated we turned over our coffee mugs indicating that we did indeed want coffee with our breakfast. I love places that do this—almost as much as I love the places that give you your own coffeepot. The simple turning over of a cup makes me feel more involved in the whole process. I just wish the coffee was something special. Our waitress quickly filled our cups. She was no-nonsense without being pushy. With a "Let’s do this," she took our orders.
Looking over the menus I was surprised at how cheap everything was. The average hearty breakfast was less than six dollars. Only the full-sized dinners (things like T-Bone steak and lasagna) are more than ten. Most of the breakfasts default to "two circus pancakes" with a bread or hash browns being the substitutions. Thankfully, other than the "circus pancakes" there is little shoe-horning of the circus theme into the menu. Although my dad and I did both order the Big Top Breakfast. The one difference between our orders were that I ordered my eggs scrambled. Yes... look at the picture. That's an over medium set of huevos. They got my order wrong. That's okay. I didn't care how I got my eggs really. I would be remiss if I didn't let you guys know the truth though. I did copy my dad and ordered the hash browns "extra extra crispy". For as long as I've known my dad, which is to say, my whole life, he's ordered his hash browns this way. They are never crispy enough, but he did appreciate the effort Pancake Circus put into these. The sausage was a little soggy. My dad let me try some of his ham. He liked it well enough, while I thought it was fatty.
Now for the pancakes! The waitress brought them on a second trip to the table and they were already cooled down. Pancake Circus doesn't have warming lamps so this may more often than not be the case if the place is busy and your waitress can't get the food to your table fast enough. I was also displeased when I lifted my top pancake and saw the twerpy haggard pancake hidden beneath.
Clearly they were trying to hide this malformed creature. A creature that proved to be quite delicious. Pancake Circus does pancakes right. Light and fluffy without the feeling of swallowing a pillow.
My mom ordered the Country Fried Steak breakfast. I can't eat country fried steak. It used to be served at my elementary school for lunch. I couldn't eat it then and it has ruined it for me now. My mom liked it. Maybe you will to.
Pancake Circus is just such so kitchy and odd that you have to try it. The food is good but that's entirely secondary to the surreal environment in which you eat it.
It's not too far off I-5 making it possible to just to a quick pit stop on your way north.
Service: Good, but did get my order wrong.
Pie: Yes. Apple, Boysenberry and Cherry
Sacramento, CA 95818-2535