(Shrove Tuesday, Pancake day)
The London restaraunt scene is likely feeling a bit more relaxed today (1st March). Pancake day has come and gone for another year as the mad rush for those delicious, round, fluffy, syrupy covered cakes of fun has died down and everyone takes a moment to breath out and have a more 'healthier' day. I don't blame them either.
How did everyone fare sifting through the insane amount of top 10 pancakes lists? Literally every major social/news site had one. For the most part they would mention the typical spots around London as you'd expect; My Old Dutch, The Breakfast Club, The Book Club, Christophers etc. Nothing new here really.
While the obvious choice for me personally would have been The Book Club (freekin' love those pancakes), I wasn't satisfied with their more limited boozy options yesterday, as alcohol is a strict no-no for me. Why settle for their standard pancakes I can get any day of the week, right?
So doing a bit of local research along with my 'go to' list (which is ridiculously long at the moment), I come across The Diner, an American inspired joint located in Spitalfields Market just down the road from Liverpool St station.
Classic 80's tunes, neons signs and retro seating transports us to an American dream (one where Trump isn't president). Music...slightly too loud, but it's a comfortable place and I'm instantly chilled out in it's atmosphere humming along to popular tracks from my yout'.
I guess I planned this one correct because The Diner at 3pm is literally dead on a weekday. I can imagine after working hours this place must be packed full of hungry guys and gals looking for a drink and a cheat meal of some kind. Fried food, all days breakfasts and club sandwhichs line the menu top to bottom, today however there's only one thing on my mind...PANCAKES!
Before I get onto the pancakes I will say that the onion rings in this place are awesome! It might have been a bad idea to order savoury sides before the main event though, for good reason.
THE PANCAKES ARE HUGE!!!!
Whoa mama, kill me now. I can hear my stomach cry in pain at the size of these monstrous plates, those onion rings were a very, very, very bad (but tasty) idea indeed.
The actual pancakes didn't have a much flavour, which normally I would critisise, but recently I've edited an interview featuring Stax Diner/Boondocks owner Bea Vo, who specifcally mentions that buttermilk pancakes aren't meant to have much flavour anyway. Keeping that in mind I guess I understand why. It's more a carrier of flavour via the pool of berries and syrup. The texture is actaully not bad, it keeps enough moisture from going tough in the mouth over time (one of my big pancake gripes). The berries are nice but oddly lack a huge fruity, flavour punch, I can't pinpoint exactly why this is. The maple syrup also has the issue of tasting slightly watered down leaving a curious impression overall.
Another beast of a dish. This comes with berries on top and a cream cheese frosting sauce, plus the eariler mentioned maple syrup.
These pancakes fair far better having a much nicer texture more akin to a cake with an overall sweetness that was lacking in the blueberry brother equivalent. The cream cheese sauce adds additional sweetness, similar to what you'd expect from a red velvet cupcake or carrot cake frosting, it's not bad at all. However the berries on top are just insanely sour and overpower everything on the plate. Maybe in a more liberal serving this would have been fine to help break through the sweetness, but the amount topping the pancakes were just too much to handle and they end up being pushed aside for the better.
One final mention. The tea, just don't. English breakfast tea never tasted as wrong as is has here. There was just an odd flavour to it. I'll put it down to being American style in this case. Simply put, avoid.
Ultimately my blog is about desserts/sweets, I never expect to delve in depth about the savoury side much on here. Keeping that in mind however, I feel The Diner's savoury menus read far better than their sweet options. Granted I've only really tried two pancake choices which are fairly limited, but both underpreformed in varying ways for me.
I'd actually consider going back for a veggie breakfast/burgers and maybe a Snickers or New York cheesecake berry milkshake (both of which actually sound bloody amazing).
I guess while harsh I'll be basing my score on what I've experienced so far, which if I'm properly honest I don't think is a full indication of what The Diner has to offer, so take it with a grain of salt. Maybe in time I'll adjust it, but for now The Diner this is set firmly middle of that long American road.
Rating ★★★☆☆ (3.0/5)
Review of the Spitalfields branch only. Other London locations include Islington, Camden, Strand, Covent Garden and Soho.