Say hello to Kippy the Mudkip – the header photo was taken last year when I had this awesome habit of bringing out Kippy to every dinner I ate before things got too awkward and people began debating whether my head was properly screwed on or not. What. ONTO THE REVIEW.
Kind of like Holy Basil, Pancakes is one of those places that I’d have expected everyone to have visited at least once already. They are know for their…pancakes (who would have seen that coming) and their grilled stuff. Not so much for their pizza/crepes, though they’re notable.
I’ve been many times, though only recently did I go once after I became a food blogger and took up taking delicious pictures of food. Yes, pictures you can eat…ahem. ANYWAYS onto the stats.
Restaurant: Pancakes on the Rocks
Number of Visits: 20+ (yeah wtf)
Date Last Visited: 21/09/2012
Address: Various – Darling Harbour, North Strathfield, The Rocks
Specialisation: sweet pancakes, but also the stuff off the grill
Good for: medium-sized group lunches (think team lunches), dinners with an occasion
Not good for: carb-haters, the epitome of pancakes/grilled
Go-to dish: beef/pork ribs
Most people I know tend to have the opinion that pancakes is a pretty good restaurant and one of the better ones out there, but in terms of specific specialties (e.g. the pancakes, or the ribs) there are better alternatives out there if you’re willing to pay for them. Though I agree, this is akin to saying “no matter how good you are at something, there’ll always be someone out there who’s better than you at it”. In other words, a fairly pointless thing to say. This, by the way is why I don’t rate restaurants relative to each other but rather by their own merit and how I personally feel about it when I dine there. I should probably put up a post soon detailing just how I actually score…but anyways.
You could probably infer that I actually like Pancakes quite a lot.
This latest visit was a work lunch (but not with workmates…does that make sense?) and I felt ESPECIALLY hungry as I had not eaten for 22 hours prior. Yeah don’t ask…just me being crazy with being busy and whatnot. I knew I was going to eat a lot for lunch. Boy, did I eat a lot.
Tandoori Chicken Pizza: tender pieces of chicken breast marinated tandoori style. With spanish onions, sweet potato, cashew nuts and mozzarella cheese, topped with mango chutney, minted yoghurt and corriander.
Not actually the main I got on this particular occasion, but I’ve tried everything on their menu in previous visits so my comments will still apply.
One particular divide that splits pizza lovers is whether to get what is essentially a “Pan Crust” (aka thick crust), normally considered the normal pizza thickness, OR a “Thin ‘n’ Crispy” (aka gourmet/thin crust). Thick crust proponents would argue it brings in a fuller and more balanced texture and doesn’t let the toppings overpower the pizza. Thin crust advocates will reason that the true flavour bringers – the toppings are emphasized and it’s just not as doughy. Not to mention fewer carbs…I guess.
Still, it’s a matter of taste is it not? I don’t lean towards either to be honest, but gun pointed to my head I’d choose thin crust for health reasons (this is assuming ceteris paribus for the toppings…oh bringing in economics is just so fun).
Pizza science aside, what of this one?
Well, it beats the pants off any pizza you’re going to get from the pizza franchises a la Pizza Hut/Domino’s etc. But you knew that already.
The base of the pizza manages to remain doughy and not too crispy. I prefer this because I don’t want my pizza base to have the texture of a large potato chip. Chews together and blends in with the toppings quite well after you chew it for a few seconds. The dough is not tough but isn’t super soft either. A bit of crispiness begins to develop as one extends to the edge, but this appears uniform and it shouldn’t induce the “soft centre mmm omg why so crunch all of a sudden” reaction that I get often when I eat Domino’s pizza (haha, like I eat that these days…).
The toppings make the pizza though. For a start I’m going to say that the mint yoghurt is absolutely not necessary. To me, it’s really something to avoid since it’s a heap of calories for little gain. I never totally understood the point of yoghurt on a pizza. I’m not complaining – it’s dolloped on in a scoop fashion so you can easily spoon it all away very easily with little residue. Still, wonder what the design choice behind it was.
Well, it looks good I guess.
I have tasted it before though – it’s standard fare, a flavour one forgets rather quickly.
The rest of the toppings are done very well – I can’t complain about the chicken at all except to say that it could be cooked a bit less as it’s a bit tough at the places where the marinade doesn’t quite fully cover.
I never really ended up tasting the cashews but I knew they were there – their flavour has essentially been cooked out them (and probably ended up being part of the pizza). Not a totally bad thing I guess – I probably wouldn’t want the flavour of them to pop out too much. It would be weird. Texture-wise they are rather soft. This is good, as having a crunchy chicken pizza is…questionable. A confusion of texture, if you will.
Cheese was done in a moderated manner, as well as the rest of the ingredients. Good stuff.
Pork Ribs – A generous rack of pork ribs grilled in your choice of marinade, barbeque, teriyaki or honey soya. Served with golden potato wedges and mixed lettuce.
Okay so gotta correct for that purple chromatic aberration next time…HAHA sorry ’twas letting my photographer side out. I couldn’t care less actually.
*Ahem*. This was the main that I actually got for myself. I’m a sucker for a good grilled hunk of protein. Pancakes has never disappointed me WRT this and nor did it this time.
The ribs were cooked very well – tender pretty much all the way through to the bone, and very little charring at the surface. And yes, I do like a bit of char on my grill. Char does not equal burnt.
I was surprised at how little fat there was on the meat – as much as I love fat for health reasons I’d avoid it if I can. Luckily I didn’t have to pick apart these ribs to isolate hunks of fat – DESPITE THE FACT THAT IT’S PORK. Of course, it wasn’t lean by any stretch of the imagination – the amount of fat was acceptable for ribs standards and even welcome, since you’d want some of that slick which just tastes fantastic.
The other component of this equation is the sauce – pair ribs with a bad sauce and you have a disaster. I felt that the sauce used was erring on the sweet side just that little bit, but I still recall loving how it played together with the meat. Probably because I was famished then. So other than that sweetness, the sauce was right in other aspects – just enough tang, and not so cheap tasting to think it’s just no frills BBQ sauce from the market.
Okay so the ribs are pretty tasty. The wedges? Eh they’re not memorable – some of them were cut a bit large OR to look at it another way weren’t cooked for long enough. I felt like I was eating jacket potato. Not the feeling I wanna get from wedges.
Need I mention the salad? I sure hope not. Because I won’t. It’s raw veggies. C’mon.
Strawberry Patch: Buttermilk pancakes with fresh strawberries, cream, vanilla ice cream and strawberry coulis.
This was the dessert I got. And yes once again, I ate it all myself. Just so you know, these are usually meant to be shared if you had a main to yourself. Not me, that’s not how a 22hour-starved Shen Shen rolls. Ah jokes I did offer to the other people with me but they ordered their own stuff which I’ll get to in a bit.
My personal favourite pancake dish from Pancakes is the Bananarama but I decided to get something else this time.
I liked it, but probably not by all that much. I personally feel strawberries don’t work with pancakes all that well. They have their own unique (often sour) flavour, and if you get a poor crop of them and pair it with the normally very sweet and syrupy pancakes you get some mighty strange contrast. Having said this, some people prefer it like that. Not I.
Okay, take the fruits out of the equation for a sec – the pancakes themselves are cooked reasonably well. This time they were too dry (compared to what I’ve had before) and lacked that kind of fluffiness you usually associate with good pancakes (cf ricotta hotcakes from Bills). I was somewhat disappointed. BUT, I didn’t think it was too big of a deal since the ample amount of cream and ice cream that’s always paired with Pancake’s sweet pancake dishes manage to hide that pretty well. In the end, you still get that melt-in-your-mouth effect that’s to die for. Ah, the glory of carbs.
As for those strawberries…they ought to get fresher ones, that’s all I can say.
Blackforest Cherry – Chocolate pancakes with cherries in cherry brandy sauce. Finished with cream, chocolate ice cream and a sprinkling of chocolate chips.
No it’s not my second dessert – it’s the dessert that the others on the table ordered – to share. But I did end up eating a quarter of it anyway when they couldn’t finish.
Not sure why I did though – I’m not a fan of chocolate pancakes. Nobody seems to be able to cook them well. They usually end up being either too dry, or more like a cake. And if so, I may as well eat a cake. The problem with pancakes being like cake is that, coupled with the sauce and chocolate ice cream it becomes too RICH. I like chocolate, but I don’t love it to death so its richness didn’t really do much for me. And it’s not even that sweet to boot. Oh well, I’ll stick to my bananarama.
Chocolate lovers, you may like these.
Oh and the cherries – the brandy sauce is pretty good but makes the cherries taste like they’ve been pickled. Up to you to decide if you like that or not.
Potato Au Gratin – Served with salad. Potato and onion pancakes topped with a tasty cheese melt. Served with grilled banana and pineapple, topped with our hollandaise sauce and sour cream.
Mmm now this is something savoury. It’s a savoury main and it’s more or less like a french toast pancake with potato. You’re going to find that you’d want more of the hollandaise and sour cream because the pancakes themselves are a bit lacking in flavour. Nothing wrong with the texture though. Put it this way – who eats a boiled potato by itself with no condiments (shush you dieters)? Exactly. Be generous with the sauce and you’ll do much better. Still, not exactly the go-to dish at Pancakes.
Overall, you can’t go wrong with Pancakes. It serves a mean grills, solid pancakes and great pizzas. Well worth a visit.
I give Pancakes on the Rocks a grand total of seven-and-a-half Caesars out of 10 – 7.5/10