The Pancake Breakfast at Kenston High School on Bainbridge Road in Chagrin Falls is hosted by the Bainbridge Civic Club and co-hosted by the Bainbridge Women’s Club during the first three Sundays in March. This year was the 71st Annual Pancake Breakfast. It’s closer to Cleveland than any Geauga county pancake breakfast, and they also serve killer pancakes and real maple syrup (they have a big box in the corner that they used to refill the syrup dispensers). Unlike Geauga county breakfasts, they don’t serve every single weekend. This year the breakfasts were held on March 5, 12 and 19 from 8-1. I love that they serve until 1 PM. That allowed me to slowly wake up and still head over there in plenty of time for pancakes.
I know I joke about the lack of signs sometimes, but I certainly can’t say it about Kenston High’s Pancake Breakfast. There are signs leading you to the breakfast from the I-422 highway exit, down Bainbridge Road and to the entrance of the high school and then all the way to the entrance doors. A++++ for the signage!
Once you enter the gymnasium, there are two tables to the right and left selling raffle tickets and Kenston gear. The table straight ahead is where you pay. They accepted credit cards for the first time this year, but it was quicker and easier to pay in cash. The funds they raise are used to support the Bainbridge Area Food for Friends Food Pantry, provide scholarships, and fund the club’s local community driven, philanthropic endeavors.
$11 for an adult breakfast will get you sausage, coffee, milk, syrup, butter & applesauce, orange juice and unlimited pancakes (plain, blueberry, and buckwheat) and/or French toast. They direct you down the hallway to be seated when a seat becomes available. They definitely keep things moving. Community volunteers seat you, take your order, and bring your freshly prepared, hot food to your table. I was immediately asked for my beverage order (orange juice and coffee), and then I ordered a Combo and sausage with applesauce. The Combo comes with two pancakes (buttermilk and blueberry) and one French toast, but I was given all three pancakes along with a French toast (probably because it was getting close to the end and they had a surplus of buckwheat). The sausage patties were also generous and perfectly cooked. The sausage is an exclusive recipe, ground and made fresh each week by Mazzulo’s Market. Best of all, the meal is served on china plates, with china mugs, and metal silverware!
The tables had little two-sided paddles if you needed more coffee or pancakes. If I needed anything else (like more sugar, more syrup, or my applesauce that wasn’t delivered) I asked someone and was immediately given it. It was a lot of food for $11, and I savored it. It was a special morning sitting in the gym watching the snow fall outside. What more could one want? Generous signage directing me where to go, real plates and silverware, and all I could eat? Add some eggs (protein) and this would be the absolutely perfect pancake breakfast. Once I got back to my car I decided to pop over to my parents’ house to say hi since I was so close. All in all, a great Sunday.
Most pancake breakfasts are served on Sunday mornings in March when the maple trees are being tapped and the sap is flowing, although a couple run into mid-April. If you look you can find several maple syrup making events. Geauga County is known for its maple syrup, and the pancake breakfasts in the area serve genuine Geauga County maple syrup, freshly tapped and boiled. This pancake breakfast has their maple syrup in water pitchers.
I first attended the Pancake Breakfast in Parkman with my old neighbors from Solon in 2017. I met them at their place, and we drove out 422 to Parkman. I always love driving across LaDue Reservoir. It always brings me peace. Anyway, the patriarch and I somehow got turned around and drove in a circle for a few extra miles. I hadn’t realized how easy it was to find from 422. It’s a straight shot on 422, just past the Welshfield Inn. The Community House was built in 1863 as a cheese factory. It’s currently the social hub of this tiny town. We stood in line and got seated quickly along the large serpentine table. The table was built to allow the servers to easily walk back and forth and wait on the visitors requesting more sausage, more pancakes, more coffee, more milk, etc. That was pre-Covid.
First two photos borrowed from Eat*Drink*Cleveland
This year was the first time back in two years, and it has made some changes. They offered takeout in lines in the parking lot. There is no more serpentine table; they are socially distanced dining tables instead. There are still plenty of all-you-can-eat buttermilk pancakes and sausage from Charlanne Farms and several beverages to choose from. They still use real dishes and flatware, which is a nice change after having to eat off styrofoam at fish fries and other pancake breakfasts. Still the same great maple syrup in drinking pitchers (we finished that pitcher among the 7 of us). And the water was drinkable (it’s been Crystal at Eat*Drink*Cleveland’s biggest complaint)! I would have happily paid extra for orange juice, but the milk hit the spot just as well.
The pancake breakfast runs from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. I arrived there at 12:10. I pulled into a great parking spot right at the entrance and had very little wait time to be seated. They said they had served about 350 meals that day. I handed over my $10 and walked to the door to be seated. I was seated with three couples. We were quickly served plates of pancakes and sausage, and we helped ourselves to the coffee in the thermos and the butter, creamer, sugar and maple syrup on the table.
I was full after finishing my plate, and after drinking a second cup of coffee and having a nice chat with my tablemates I got up at 1 and headed home.
The Original Pancake House was founded in Portland, Oregon in 1953 by Les Highet and Erma Hueneke. It may be a chain of pancake houses across the United States, but it isn’t a large one that is so homogenized that the quality lacks. I don’t really even consider this a chain, because the food is so outstanding. We only have two locations in the Cleveland area – in Woodmere and Fairview Park. The OPH batters are all made from scratch, every day, and are carefully prepared and blended by hand using only the very freshest and finest quality ingredients available. Their original (and extensive!) menu of authentic national and ethnic pancake recipes has gained national acclaim and remains unchanged to this day. In 1999, the Original Pancake House received the James Beard Award in the category of “America’s Regional Classic Award”.
There is always a wait, so plan ahead. Bring snacks and diversions for the kids. Expect at least a half hour wait during breakfast hours – even during the week. The wait may be longer if it is a weekend. If you are a group you better make sure everyone shows up on time, because they will not seat you until everyone has arrived. I try to get there after the rush hours during the week. I don’t have the patience to deal with the weekend crowds.
The food is excellent, and the portions are huge. The focus is pancakes and crepes. The Original Pancake House’s specialties include the Dutch Baby (a fluffy German pancake topped with melted butter and powdered sugar) and the Apple Pancake. They use only the highest quality ingredients such as 93 score butter, pure whipping cream, fresh Grade AA eggs, hardwheat unbleached flour and their own sourdough yeast. The ham and Canadian Bacon are naturally hickory smoked, and the smoked bacon is sliced extra thick. Seriously, it is some of the best bacon I have ever eaten.
Their coffee blend is specially roasted just for the restaurants and served in their own specially designed mugs. I don’t know what it is about the mugs, but they definitely appeal to me. The swooped handle and the cup shape with its larger bottom and tapered top just make me want to keep drinking coffee. It wouldn’t surprise me if they had done psychological studies and knew that. I like that I can also order cranberry juice here.
I also love their seasonal fruit salad. The fruit varies with the season, but when I ordered it in late January the fruits were cantaloupe, honeydew, strawberries, bananas and grapes. The fruit salad is served with a little metal pitcher of Tropical Syrup. I can’t quite place what fruits are in it, but it is citrusy with a hint of bitterness to the sweet, which I enjoyed since it wasn’t so cloyingly sweet. A discussion on Reddit revealed that it is made with day old orange juice and some pineapple juice and corn starch (1 8 oz can pineapple chunks, 2 6 oz cans pine-banana-orange juice and 1 Tbsp corn starch – boil together and then pour over the pineapple chunks, slices of 1 orange, 1 c seedless grapes and 1 banana).
The first time I ate here was with my Meetup Brunch Group. We managed to get a table together – or rather a couple tables close together. This was pre-COVID. Now they don’t allow groups of 7 or more. I remember taking forever to decide what I wanted, because everything sounded so good. I knew I wanted some kind of pancake and was in the mood for sausage, so I ended up ordering the Pigs in a Blanket. The Pigs in a Blanket are three regular-sized sausages wrapped up in their own individual pancake. The pancakes are a little too sweet for my taste. I would have preferred a more savory pancake to match the savory sausages. Then again, I do tend to prefer savory breakfasts over sweet.
I need to rave about the Dutch Baby for a second. I always shied away from ordering it because it looked so plain. It tastes anything but plain! More like custardy goodness! A Dutch baby pancake is like a hybrid (or a love child, if you will) of a pancake, a crepe, and a popover — all in a 9 or 10 inch skillet. I’ve started making them at home because they are not hard. Mix the ingredients (flour, milk, eggs, sugar, vanilla extract and salt) together in a blender or food processor and let it rest for 20-25 minutes to allow the flour to absorb the liquid. The skillet should be screaming hot and preheated in a 425 degree oven. Melt butter in the skillet, swirl to evenly distribute the butter, add the batter and pop back in the oven for 15 to 20 minutes. Top with melted butter, powdered sugar, maple syrup, jam, Nutella, peanut butter, fresh fruit, etc. One Dutch Baby can feed two people – or one person who wants to bring home leftovers for the next day. The OPH Dutch Baby is served topped with butter and powdered sugar with more on the side along with a lemon wedge.
Their omelettes are not omelette-shaped. They are round – as if finished off in the pan and not flipped or folded. This photo of the Irish omelette is from my friend Jane. This fluffy omelette is filled with OPH’s own corned beef hash, onions, and provolone cheese. She definitely enjoyed it. I try to avoid omelettes due to my egg allergy, which is why I am using her photo.
I was in the mood for a waffle one morning, and their Cherry Kijafa Waffle did not disappoint. It is a Belgium waffle topped with Montmorency cherries that are simmered in homemade Danish Cherry Kijafa sauce then dusted with powdered sugar. I loved the Kijafa sauce. According to the OPH in Denver, Cherry Kijafa is a type of fortified 16% ABV cherry fruit wine that is produced in Denmark from cherries with added natural flavors. Because Montmorency cherries are naturally tart, the sweet wine sauce balances the flavors so you have a lovely cherry flavor that is not too sweet and not too tart. The sauce also paired well with the sausage links.
During my most recent visit I ordered everything ala carte. From a small fruit salad to two scrambled eggs, 4 slices of delicious, thick-cut bacon and one perfect Continental crepe. I didn’t want a full order of crepes, so this was a good solution. The Continental crepes are stuffed with sour cream tempered with Triple Sec and served with hot tropical syrup (I still had mine left from the fruit salad). I wanted to take some bacon home, but it was just too good. I sat there drinking my coffee and nibbling on the bacon
The omelettes and egg specialties (not the sausage though) are gluten-free. Gluten-free pancakes and crepes are also available.
I like this pancake breakfast because they serve some delicious potatoes and they don’t limit the o.j. Most pancake breakfasts in Burton have closed up shop for the season, but this one is still going strong. They were serving from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. Next week is the last week until next year. I rolled up at 11:30, and the parking lot was pretty empty. Needless to say there was no line, but they advertise there is no waiting. They have seating upstairs for large groups.
I walked in and paid my $10 to the man at the cash table. He gave me a ticket, which I turned into the kitchen window in exchange for my choice of blueberry or regular pancakes, sausage patties, potatoes and scrambled egg. They were serving them out of metal serving platters.
I deposited my stuff at a table and went to collect some plasticware, coffee and orange juice. They have the coolest drip collectors on the coffee urns that they made from two-liter bottles. They have hot water, regular coffee and decaf coffee equipped with those bad boys. I think that is pretty ingenious.
The tables had paper placemats set and squeeze bottles of maple syrup that they regularly replaced. There were also small bottle of ketchup for those who like ketchup on their eggs or potatoes. A large catch-all table had a bottle of sugar-free syrup and a couple other alternatives like agave as well as butter for the pancakes.
I doctored up my coffee with cream and sugar at the table and then dug into the meal. I had chosen one regular and one blueberry pancake and two sausage patties. I enjoyed both of them, but preferred the blueberry pancake enough to get one more when I went to get a little bit more later. It was a little moister from the addition of the fresh and plentiful blueberries. The eggs were well cooked like I prefer them (if you like runny eggs you might be disappointed). There were a couple dollops of egg that were dried out and dark yellow, but I just didn’t eat them. The potatoes have an onion flavor to them that makes them unique. Round two was a blueberry pancake, a sausage patty and a scoop of potatoes and a second cup of orange juice. I barely finished round two.
I rolled out of there shortly after noon and had definitely hit my satiation limit. I drove home with the windows down and enjoyed the warm weather. What a difference a week makes. Last week the trees were covered in snow and I slept with my window open all night last night.
Next week they will be serving biscuits and sausage gravy (probably to get rid of all the extra sausage).
Burton-Middlefield American Legion
14052 Goodwin Street
Burton, OH 44021
Another weekend in March, another pancake breakfast. I had originally scheduled Burton’s American Legion Pancake Breakfast for this weekend, but my friend who was going to join me is allergic to potatoes. I had also heard rave reviews of the fire station pancake breakfast from friends who went there last weekend instead ofjoining us at the omelet and pancake breakfast at the high school. So I decided to check out the fire station and do the American Legion one next weekend (the last one for the year).
We decided on a later meet time to avoid a long wait (my friends were in line for 40 minutes – just as we were). Between an arrival time of noon and a freak snow storm that dropped 3-5 inches Burton was decidedly emptier this weekend.
We found a parking space that was very close to the fire station – and most importantly there was absolutely no line whatsoever. We waited a few minutes on the ground floor for a third friend to join us and then headed up the stairs to the second floor. As we were waiting a woman came in asking if there was an elevator because her mother used a walker. The firemen replied there wasn’t, but they had a chair they could transport her in. They strapped her in and carried her up the stairs.
Since there was no line we were able to go straight to the cashier table and purchase our meal. The cost was $8 for all you can eat pancakes and sausage. Extra sausage and extra beverages (water or orange juice) were $1 each. I opted for extra sausage and an extra orange juice, so my meal cost me $10. Still a bargain. We grabbed our trays, a plate, and silverware and mosied up to the window of the kitchen for a stack of pancakes. When asked what kind I wanted I asked for one of each. Somehow that turned into four pancakes – too much for me. The sausage patties were also generous, so I really regretted buying an extra order. I took them home wrapped in a napkin. I was very happy I got a second orange juice though. What is up with the tiny containers of o.j.? They seem wasteful to me and only contain a bit of juice. I do like that they use real plates and real mugs for the meal – not styrofoam like most of the other fish fries or pancake breakfasts.
We easily found seats at a table next to the window, so we enjoyed watching the snowflakes fall outside while eating our pancakes and talking. Volunteers walked around with fresh pancakes and thermoses of coffee. The pancakes on the refill plates were fresher than the ones that had been sitting in the window. I have a feeling they had prepared for a crowd that didn’t materialize due to the weather. My favorite pancake out of the three was the blueberry pancake. The blueberries were plump and plentiful. The buckwheat pancakes were my second favorite. The regular ones were just too thick and dried out (most likely from sitting in the serving trays). We used lots of butter and maple syrup to soften them up.
We sat around talking for two hours. There wasn’t a rush for us to leave since there weren’t people clamoring for seats. My one friend bought a pint of maple syrup and some maple treats to take home with her. We headed back to Cleveland driving through the winter wonderland. It was a great way to start the day. As I said, we are planning on attending the American Legion breakfast next weekend, which is the very last one for the year in Burton.
Burton Volunteer Fire Station
13828 Spring Street
Burton, OH 44021
Burton is known as Pancake Town USA. Every March since 1951, Burton has been serving pancakes every spring to over 20,000 guests. It became so popular that the Burton-Middlefield Rotary Club decided to officially trademark the town as “Pancake Town USA.” Today the Rotary Club, the Century Village Museum and other groups continue to serve these annual March Sunday pancake breakfasts. Downtown Burton was packed with cars yesterday (and I would imagine every Sunday in March), as everyone parked on the square and on Main Street to enjoy the pancake breakfasts at the Century Village Museum, Red Maple Inn, the fire station and the high school and visit the Burton Log Cabin. The American Legion’s pancake breakfast is tucked away on a side street across from the entrance to the high school. I went to that one a few years ago and really enjoyed the fried potatoes.
This year the pancake breakfasts at the high school and fire station are on March 3rd, 10th, 17th, 24th and 31st. The American Legion and Century Village Museum will also be hosting theirs on April 7th as well.
This year I decided to try the Burton-Middlefield Rotary Pancake Breakfast because they serve omelets in addition to all you can eat pancakes and sausage. Two of my other friends opted to go to the Fire Station for their all you can eat breakfast featuring regular, blueberry and buckwheat pancakes. I’ll try it next year.
My friends and I decided to meet at 11 on the 24th because we had an event later in Orange that started at 2. I got there shortly before they did. They parked in the post office lot, while I parked down and across the street from the high school lot, which was jam-packed with cars. I drove through the entire lot and not a single spot was free. I had an inkling this would not be a quick breakfast like the last two pancake breakfasts were. We queued up once we walked in and wound our way up the stairs and through the hallways of the school. They had pins for the visitors to mark where they came from. There was a board for Geauga County residents as well as one of Ohio. One pin was from Toledo, while several others were from Pennsylvania.
About forty minutes later we found ourselves at the table to pay, where we specified what we wanted. They took credit cards, but I happily handed over my $12 for the pancakes and sausage with an upgrade of a Western omelet. My friends ordered veggie omelets. Since they are vegetarians I got their sausage patties after we sat down. We were given a print-out indicating our order and a colored cardboard piece with a number (#1 for Western, #2 for ham and cheese, and #3 for veggie – peppers, onion, mushrooms and cheese) and handed the print-out to the person at the door to the cafeteria serving area. We wound our way through that area, grabbing a tray and silverware and collecting our pancakes and sausage patties, choice of milk (regular or chocolate) and orange juice. They then assigned us a table and whisked away our trays before we even had a chance to sit down. The omelets were quickly brought to our tables, and we handed them the colored cardboard.
The omelets were huge and really delicious. They were served with little cups of salsa, but I preferred mine just as it was. The pancakes were fluffy and had a great taste to them. The sausage was well-cooked. The coffee was in big thermoses on the table as well as cream and sugar. Real maple syrup was in squeeze bottles on the table. The tables also came equipped with wooden sticks painted in yellow and red for more “cakes” and “sausage” and green and brown for more coffee. The yellow and red sticks got a lot of use. They gladly kept serving more pancakes and sausage until we couldn’t eat any more. The woman overseeing our table whisked my plate full of leftovers away (I had stacked my plates together) and brought it back in a to-go box. I had half an omelet and four sausage patties left. I hadn’t asked for any more pancakes or sausage, but did ask for more coffee and butter as we sat down since our table was running low. Once we were finished they cleaned our plates and detritus away. Once someone left the table they were immediately there wiping the spots down and putting a placemat down for the next group of diners. When we left at noon the line had died down considerably. However, as we learned from one of our fellow diners if you go a little later you may find they have run out of something – in their case a few years ago pancakes. They serve from 8:00 am – 1:30 pm.
We checked out the little craft fair in the gymnasium before leaving. I bought some kolachky, and my friends bought some jam. My leftovers made a great dinner that night.
Burton-Middlefield Rotary Pancakes & Omelets Breakfast
Berkshire High School
14510 N Cheshire Street
Burton, OH 44021
Goodell Family Farm hosts pancake breakfasts on three Sundays in March in the Shalersville Town Hall in Ravenna. It is located at the intersection of OH-44 and Route 303. The pancake breakfast features all you can eat pancakes (regular and buckwheat), sausage and their own pure maple syrup. You also get a small glass of orange juice and all the coffee you can drink. And don’t forget to enjoy a soft serve maple ice cream cone when you are finished.
Adults pay $8.00, children (ages 4-12) are $4.00, and children 3 years of age and under are free. The pancake breakfasts this year were March 3rd, 10th, and 17th from 8:30 am to 2:00 pm. I met a girlfriend, and we spent an hour and a half enjoying pancakes and sausage and catching up.
This place is a well-oiled machine. The room is not that large, but the line is not long (at least it wasn’t when we were there). You pay when you walk in and walk past a table full of Goodell Family Farm products. The gentleman at the end then finds a seat for you and your party. We were seated with another older married couple, which was a little awkward. I had already blown past them getting off the turnpike, so I wasn’t too thrilled to be seated with them. Then to add to the awkward they sat next to each other, so we then also had to sit next to each other. As their penance they had to hear my girlfriend and I talk about our lives and high five each other several times.
I opted for a combo stack of pancakes – a mix of two regular pancakes and one buckwheat pancake – and it came with three sausage links. The pancakes and sausage were delicious. I liked the regular pancakes a bit more, but the buckwheat ones were definitely great. There are people walking around the room refilling coffee cups and doling out more pancakes and sausage. I had one more of each. There are big pitchers of maple syrup and sticks of butter on the table to help yourself.
I purchased a quart of maple syrup for $17 as I left. It’s already opened and now in my fridge. Next year’s pancake breakfasts will be March 8th, 15th, and 22nd, so mark your calendars. It’s worth the drive.
The Olmsted Historical Society holds its annual Pancake Breakfasts on three Sundays in March from 9:00 am – 1:00 pm in the Events Barn at the Frostville Museum, 24101 Cedar Point Rd (at the corner of Lewis and Cedar Point Rd. in the Cleveland Metroparks Rocky River Reservation). Adults $7.00, Children 10 & under $5.00. Menu 1 includes unlimited pancakes, juice, hot beverage and sausage. Menu 2 includes scrambled eggs, sausage, potatoes (no refills), juice & hot beverage. Additional sausage is 3 for $1.00, additional orange juice is $.50. Maple syrup was also extra. Syrup was on the tables, but the maple syrup was doled out in little portion cups. I upgraded to add scrambled eggs to Menu 1 and bought an extra orange juice, so I spent $10.50. The coffee was at a table in the back of the room (see above photo).
Being from Olmsted Falls and since they host a farmer’s market here I had such high hopes for this, so I arranged for my dining friends to meet here for breakfast on March 3. There were eight of us. None of us liked it. The eggs were chalky, the hash browns were food service and not cooked very well, and the pancakes were just okay. They could have at least cooked the hash browns on the flat top grill.
The money raised helps maintain the historic buildings at the museum, so at least we donated to a good cause. We did a paczki crawl afterwards and shopped at Chuppa’s in Parma. Go for the farmer’s market. Save your money on the pancake breakfast.
24101 Cedar Point Road
North Olmsted, OH 44070