A light rain this morning, and crows are talking to each other through the trees. Blueberry pancakes for breakfast reminded me of something I saw recently: an old menu from IHOP with a listing for silver dollar pancakes. Whatever happened to those? I remember finding them on the menu at a pancake house when I was a kid while we were on vacation. This struck me as impossibly exotic: a plateful of a dozen or so small pancakes, served in stacks–who knew there were such things in the world? So what is the history of silver dollar pancakes and why have they disappeared? I wish I knew. They are mentioned in a Wikipedia article that gives interesting information on pancakes in general, national and regional variations—and in some cases perhaps permutations—which gave me lots of ideas for future pancake experiments. There is even a photo of a stack of silver dollar pancakes. But no history. However, a brief scout around the web revealed that recipes exist out there for silver dollar pancakes, including one recipe that bills itself as the Best Silver Dollar Pancakes Ever. (Sure, you could just make regular pancake batter and pour the cakes on the griddle in miniature, but it seems like more fun to have a dedicated recipe.) And, to my great surprise, my search turned up a website for a restaurant called Silver Dollar Pancake House. To my great dismay, it’s in Corona, which I found upon further research is in southern California. I’m in Minnesota. Still. I have a brother in Oceanside, California and an open invitation to visit. Would I go all the way to Oceanside to then go all the way to Corona (dare I do the math?) just to eat the silver dollar pancakes at Silver Dollar Pancake House? I just might.
Why a Silver Dollar Pancake House pilgrimage?
Because they have not only Silver Dollar pancakes on the menu, they have Manhattan Pancakes (sour cream and powdered sugar), Iowa Corn Cakes, Potato Pancakes, French Pancakes (crepe style with strawberry jam), Pineapple, Pecan, Chili (seriously), Buckwheat and more. And you can order them individually. Come on! Here’s another compelling thing about this pancake house: they open at 5 a.m. weekdays-Saturday and 6 a.m. on Sunday. These are the hours of serious breakfast people. You might point out that pancakes are available 24 hours at some restaurants, but I’m talking about an authentic place—”a Corona tradition since 1922″— not one of the chains.
I’ve saved the best for last. The restaurant has been through some serious evolutions. In the 30s it was The Circle City Drive-In Car Hop Restaurant, in the 40s a Chinese restaurant, in the late 40s a Mexican restaurant, and in the 50s it became the Silver Dollar Pancake House. Even better: the man who owns it now with his wife (Robert and Diana Hernandez) started working there at the age of 13 as a dishwasher.
I have to go there. The place has achieved mythical status for me. And I suspect it could be a mystical experience as well. I realize I’ve just given a restaurant review to a place that I’ve never been, but I feel confident about this. And I’m going. I cannot leave this earth without going there. I may have higher aspirations and I may have deeper aspirations. I may or may not achieve them. But I’m going to the Silver Dollar Pancake House someday.