You may be thinking that we haven't published a thing about Philadelphia so far this month... perhaps we should change the name of our blog to "Traveling Twins" or something. After a weekend in DC and a weekend in Maryland, we hopped on a plane and headed to Nashville, TN for a long weekend self-imposed spring break. Our best friends from home now live in Tennessee, so after a few long months without them, we were more than ready to check out their new city. I could go on for quite some time about the loveliness of the entire weekend, but I will spare you and stick to the food-- well, some of the food. I could probably also write an entire separate post on the food that our host and hostess prepared for us throughout the weekend (Southern deliciousness and the best picnic lunch you could imagine) but pictures could not be taken due to the continuous hand-to-mouth motions every time we sat down to eat.
Our friends planned our weekend to maximize our fun and our explorations of the city. Having never been to Nashville, they wanted to let us in on an authentic taste. Of course, part of this involves classic Nashville eateries. Perhaps one of the most well known- the Pancake Pantry. J and I love pancakes and make them often, so this in combination with the potential for a run-in with a certain country star had us good and ready. We set out on Friday morning- which may have otherwise been a quiet morning at the PP (I love a good acronym) particularly because of the slight drizzle. However, with the SEC Men's Basketball Tournament going on in Nashville, we met a bit of a line (mostly wearing Kentucky get-ups) upon our arrival. Apparently a line is quite a common occurrence here, as the PP is not only a famous tourist spot but also very popular with the locals. Always a good sign- you know the food is good if locals will wait in line for it!
The wait took about half an hour, but was made infinitely better by the free self-serve coffee cart. Cream and sugar? No problem. Seriously, any restaurant that requires waiting should offer free drinks.
The restaurant is one big open square, mostly dotted with tables for four, with booths lining two walls. It has a bit of a Cracker Barrel feel to it, very open with friendly servers and down home decorations. The menu consists of over twenty variations of pancake (surprise!) ranging from fruit flavors, crepe-style pancakes, and both sweet and savory options. They also serve waffles, French toast, eggs, and other varieties of classic breakfast dishes. Lunch dishes (think salads, soups, and burgers) are also available, but I don't even remember seeing those items on the menu- we were there for the pancakes.
After some debate (it's hard to decide!) and lots of mouth watering, we gave our orders to our adorable waitress who I can only describe as a perfect replica of Amelia Bedelia, although about forty years older. J decided on the Smokey Mountain Buckwheat cakes- a "half" order. All of the pancakes come five to an order, but you can also get any of them in a smaller serving of three. Usually not the type to cut down from a normal serving size, we were hesitant to do this, but were glad we did- they were big! The buckwheat pancakes had a wonderful nutty flavor, but weren't heavy like whole wheat products can sometimes be. They went well with a smear of butter and a drizzle of syrup- apparently homemade. The house maple was great- not overly thick and sweet but on the thinner side. The buckwheats also went great with honey, which was our alternative syrup option.
Our lovely hostess chose the Old Fashioned Buttermilk Pancakes-- you can never go wrong with the classic, right? They were fluffy and literally, the best "regular" plain pancakes I have ever tasted. I swear, I don't understand- I know a good pancake from a bad pancake, but never thought there was a separate "heavenly" category. Both the flavor and the texture are unbeatable. I'm afraid there is some secret, very unhealthy ingredient... but a secret that I am fine with never knowing. The lightness of the cakes make them veritable sponges for syrup, just as they should be.
I ordered the Water Ground Cornmeal Pancakes- I grew up begging my dad to make corn pancakes every Sunday morning and am a cornbread connoisseur. These pancakes were a small bit of corn-y perfection- quite dense with a large grain that allowed for extra corn flavor in every almost-crunchy bite. They were somewhat steamed like tamales, and both melted and soaked up my pat of butter simultaneously. They went perfectly with the honey- after a small taste of maple, I never went back.
The three of us weren't very adventurous in our pancake choices (I mean, we could have had Apricot-Lemon Delights, or "Chocolate Sin"!) but I think we had a good taste of what the PP has to offer. Three completely different grains used to make three perfect stacks of cakes... I think the locals have definitely found and supported the real deal. And honestly, if (or rather, when) I go back, I will make the same choice- the sign of a very good meal.