Pfanntastic Pannenkoek Haus
2439-54 Avenue SW
My lack of enthusiasm for breakfast and brunch foods is fairly well documented, and, it seems, there are voices in the wilderness that concur. While i enjoy certain elements that make up breakfast, I just find the overall the entire meal to be unsatisfying. Instead, as i advance in years, I generally take advantage of the meal to get as much healthy stuff out of the way – fibre, fruits and veggies, dairy, so i can concentrate my remaining two meals on things i really like. Like meat. And soup. And meat. However, every once in a while, you’re reminded why breakfast can be so great. An amazing hollandaise on a perfectly poached egg, a nice fatty strip of crisp and soft bacon, bratwurst, crisp and fragrant hash browns, perfectly ripe fruit. Or, you can just have foods that take great elements from lunch and dinner and incorporate them into breakfast! Pfantastic Pannenkoek Haus does a little bit of both.
Pannenkoek is a Dutch pancake. More like a crepe than a traditional pancake, they come in two types of basic flavours – sweet, and savoury, or often served as a combination of both. With a wide variety of different toppings, as well as the ability to customize your own, Pfanntastic Pannenkoek Haus has a little bit of something for everyone. Located in a strip mall off Crowchild Trail in SW Calgary, it is a bit difficult to get to. People heading North on Crowchild Trail have a simple turn into the complex. For people heading south, a roundabout trip through the local side streets is needed. This small snag aside, clearly enough people know where it is, as weekends have a very very long lineup. I typically show up very early, or very late, otherwise i expect a 45 minute wait out the door.
Like most typical breakfast places, coffee seems to be the first order of business. They serve a fairly regular cup of drip coffee, not great, not undrinkable, but they serve it with a speculaas – a spiced windmill cookie that is extremely tasty. And really healthy too :) One thing i have noticed is that their orange juice, which is just straight up bottled orange juice, is actually a very reasonable price. Something i appreciate after having been gouged on five continents when looking for a few extra vitamins on the morning after.
Aside from pannenkoek, they do serve regular type breakfast fare, as well as some other odds and ends. One thing I see ordered quite often is the omelette. On one given morning, I managed to sample one – and have to admit it’s decent. Fairly fluffy and light, the texture didn’t have the two elements i hate in omelettes – rubbery consistency, nor overly “wet” egg, when too much milk has been added during whisking. It was also well packed with toppings and cheese, giving it some serious heft. With a unnecessary side of salad and unremarkable toast, it still is a tremendous amount of food. Perhaps a true omelette lover can comment on where it ranks in the overall scheme of things.
However, one doesn’t go to a restaurant called Benny’s and Bacon and order waffles. It would definitely be a shame to show up and not at least share a Pannenkoek. Not being a huge fan of mixing sweet and savoury, I typically stay in one of the two pure combinations. With ingredients like leeks, onion, potato, cheese, bacon, mushrooms, sausage, pepper, tomatoes, you have a lot of savoury options. They typically price out from $6.95 to $11.95 – a good value. My regular standby is the potato, onion, and cheese ($9.95). A crispy, fragrant pancake served at over a whopping 12″, this is a lot of food. A wonderful blend of crepe like batter, mixed with crispy potato, onion, and sharp cheese. Served with a side of sour cream, this is fantastic flavour and quantity all in one plate.
Fans of sweets and desserts will really appreciate the sweet pannenkoek. Using such unpleasant toppings like chocolate, bananas, ice cream, icing sugar, saskatoons, any type of berry really, the light crepe doesn’t incorporate its toppings into the actual batter, but it rests as a platform for delivering each sugary topping. Fans of sweets assure me that it is most excellent at anytime – I find it a bit much at 10 in the morning.
Aside from the usual assortment of condiments, you’ll find one interesting addition: stroop. Made from sugar beets, this molasses like syrup is a typical condiment to all kinds of pannenkoek. It’s not for me, but it’s an interesting, complimentary flavour to try.
Having been written up countless times in Calgary’s local “food critic” guide, as well as many other publications, Pfanntastic Pannenkoek Haus is certainly no hole in the wall place any longer. However, over the many years i have been patronizing them, their consistency and service has always remained the same – top notch. An excellent value, with great variety, this is an excellent place to get your fill of breakfast like foods in the morning or afternoon. And it is even tasty enough to satisfy non-breakfast eaters like myself – which is no small feat in itself.