On a Saturday or Sunday, the Original Pancake House (5479 Main St., Williamsville, 634-5515), one of the busiest breakfast spots in town, might serve meals to 400 or 500 people.
Probably 30 percent of those customers will ask for the same thing, said owner R.J. Jewula: the Dutch baby, which runs $9.95.
It’s a baked pancake that can puff up to basketball size in a hot oven. Servers try to get the powdered-sugar-dusted confections to their owners while they’re still inflated. At the table, customers or the server can use accompanying butter, more powdered sugar and lemon slices to make a glaze that is drizzled across the confection with fresh strawberries.
“Oftentimes a family of four or five will come in, and everyone will ask for the Dutch baby,” said Jewula, whose father opened the Williamsville site of the national chain in 1977. The family company also runs the Original Pancake House restaurants on Niagara Falls Boulevard in Amherst, and Union Road in Orchard Park.
The Dutch baby, followed by the baked apple pancake, are its most popular items. It’s made with a relatively simple batter of flour, eggs, cream, nutmeg and a little sugar. Clarified butter goes into an 8-inch pan, then a measure of batter before it’s put into a hot oven. In 20 to 25 minutes, it’s ready.
They’re easily affected by cooling, so cooks try to time them so they open the oven door as little as possible.
Getting the Dutch babies from kitchen to table is a timing play. “You’re talking 10 to 12 seconds when you want the server to grab it and take it to the table,” Jewula said.
Since the goal is to get it to the customer before it deflates, servers have their trays ready, with butter, sugar, lemons and strawberries sliced to order, so they can head straight to its owner. “We want that eye-catching impression. We want that server walking through the dining room and heads turning, ‘Wow what is that?’ We sell more that way,” Jewula said.
In the interest of speed, on weekends the restaurant will hull the strawberries ahead of time. “But as far as slicing them, that’s done fresh for each customer,” Jewula said. “It does take extra time, but in the end that’s what customers want, that freshness.”
Buffalo Soup-Fest. More than 30 local restaurants throw down in a steamy fight for city soup honors from 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday in the Buffalo Niagara Convention Center. More info: www.buffalosoupfest.com.