You might think it’s a little weird that I’d never eaten at IHOP before. To you I’d say: you are correct; it is a little weird.
But then, it’s also probably a little weird that I was excited to eat at IHOP and looking forward to it for days beforehand. After all, there’s even an IHOP in New York City, home of “we’re going to pretend we hate big bad chain stores and restaurants because we want to seem cool but we all secretly think it’s super convenient that we have a Kmart close by.” Once a generic, unhip restaurant has made its way past the barrier between Times Square and the rest of the city, you can safely say it’s everywhere.
So maybe it’s just the mystery surrounding the establishment that I was drawn to. When my family drove 10 hours from Ohio to Boston to take me to college 10 years ago, they all went out to IHOP one morning, but I was really sick and couldn’t go. First missed opportunity. Then, they put an IHOP in a plaza close to where my parents live, but every time I came to visit, for some reason going there just wasn’t high on the priority list. Finally, IHOP arrived at 14th St in Manhattan and I kid you not, there was actually a line outside the place to get in.
What was this pancake heaven that I had been missing out on? What was so special about these pancakes? Were they pancakes with superpowers? Or, better yet, did these pancakes give you superpowers? I had to find out.
So, it was with much anticipation that I ate at IHOP yesterday. Official verdict: underwhelmed. And totally not worth the unknown number of calories consumed within that single meal (if there’s one thing I miss about NYC–and there’s not; there are tons–it’s being able to quickly scan a chain restaurant menu and see the calorie count for every item. In Ohio, it’s just a guess whether the pancakes with apple compote or chocolate chips are worse for you. Regardless of whether you choose the one with fewer calories, there’s a slight satisfaction in at least having the knowledge right there in front of you).
But at least now I’ll never have to wonder, and now I can focus my culinary exploration of Ohio on more sophisticated dining experiences, such as CiCi’s unlimited pizza, pasta, and salad buffet for $4.99. Oh yes, don’t worry–that day is absolutely coming.