I base a lot of my dining decisions on Madison Magazine’s Best of Madison results and those results have never led me astray; until today. The Pancake Cafe in Fitchburg has been voted Best Breakfast in Madison every year since 2003 so I was very excited to go with some friends this morning. I’ve been here before but only gotten a to-go order and never gotten anything other than their amazing cinnamon rolls the size of Texas. Based on the amazing-ness of these cinnamon rolls the food should have been amazing…guess not!
I did not get breakfast but based on what everyone else got at the table and the pictures on the menu I didn’t actually miss anything. I got the tuna melt, which was a traditional diner tuna melt. It was made with mayo and had a slice of cheddar cheese. The bread was way to greasy for my taste and if the cheese hadn’t been an awkwardly bright yellow I probably wouldn’t have even known it was on there. The saving grace of the dish was a slice of tomato and lettuce on the side of my plate. I peeled my sandwich apart and added those to the sandwich which really cut the grease. Thankfully one of the friends I was with gave me her lettuce and tomato so I could have them on both halves of my sandwich. The french fries were disappointingly dry and tasteless.
The grilled cheese a friend got (and got charged for a ham and cheese melt even though she didn’t get the ham) looked luke warm and not at all melty enough to justify a good grilled cheese. The cheese burger (be careful, they charge $1 for cheese!), crepes and chocolate chip pancakes looked ok but nothing to rave about. Another friend got a ceasar salad and was given a plate of warm lettuce with dry chicken and no dressing.
Other items on the menu I was considering but opted against were the eggs benedict (the picture showed a congealed, greasy mound of hollandaise sauce atop a very small piece of ham) and the homemade corned beef hash and eggs (wasn’t 100% convinced it was actually homemade…the canned stuff is nasty!).
As for the restaurant in general it looks like a newer version of a Perkins with tan walls and mauve accents. The decor is reminiscent of something a grandma would buy and there’s a random fireplace right by the entrance. Our service was lacking to say the least and I don’t think I was the only one in my group who noticed the hostess’ weird attitude about splitting up our check.
Bottom line: I think I’m safe in saying that none of us would rate the Pancake cafe best breakfast in Madison. I would recommend avoiding everything on this menu other than their amazing and fantastically tasty cinnamon rolls (Seriously, if you haven’t had one of these cinnamon rolls you need to do that like right now! You’ll thank me when you’re driving all the way to Fitchburg for a cinnamon roll you say you’ll eat over a couple of days but you’ll devor in a half a day and then realize it probably contains your total calories for a week. I know I thank my friend Hilary for introducing me to it’s amazing cream cheese frosting!) If you’re looking for a breakfast place in Madison I suggest The Original Pancake House (their corned beef hash is homemade!), The Sunroom Cafe, or Monty’s Blueplate Diner!