Monday, April 9, 2012

We Hop To IHOP

He had a cold. I had an idea. After several days with a runny nose I decided to venture out with the Little Dude for a dinner of warm comfort food. I know it usually makes me feel better when I’m sick, but would it do the same for him?

Knowing what a picky eater he is, my options were limited. I’d heard that the local IHOP has a “kids eat free” deal if an adult eats. I hedged my bets that he’d eat, popped some precautionary Tums and headed to a place which apparently takes Dr. Seuss a bit too literally for my taste.

The sun was setting as we drove. I’d never been to this location before and wasn’t sure exactly where it was. Fortunately the neon-blue sign was so bright that it looked like a post-apocalyptic Smurf village, so I easily found my way as I pulled off the freeway. We grabbed a booth near the front and I tried to guess which method of distraction I would need to utilize first. Was it the crayons on the table? The books I brought? Telling him the menu was a picture book and he should try to figure out the story? (Spoiler Alert: when you get all the way to the end, someone joins Weight Watchers.)  

Since I hadn’t been to an IHOP in a very long time I figured I should look at the menu. Thanks to the new regulations that forces restaurants to list the caloric content of everything they serve, I figured I’d skip the tempting looking “Chicken and Waffles”.  And only partially because I don’t want to get a prescription for Lipitor this week.

I ordered the Little Dude some silver dollar pancakes and myself a salad, figuring it’d be hard for them to mess that up or figure out a way to deep-fry it. (It turns out I was wrong, but I’ll get to that.) I’m not generally a big entrée- salad orderer.  But after seeing that their chicken sandwiches contained almost as many calories as Shaquille O’Neal eats in a month, I could feel my arteries harden slightly just from perusing the menu  & went with the leafy stuff.

After just a few minutes, his plate of 5 mini-pancakes was delivered and the server told me my salad would be right up. The Little Dude’s eyes widened like Tim Tebow’s at a strip club as he looked excitedly at what lay in front of him. Though he has never so much as tasted a chicken nugget, French fry or bite of pizza he LOVES breakfast food. So much so that Mrs. Dude has become a pancake and waffle-making master. If there is ever an Iron Chef: Flapjack Edition, I’m going to sign her up.  

As he watched me slice his pancakes with eager eyes,  the Little Dude spotted something he’d never seen before across the table. In addition to the usual “brown” (maple) syrup, there was also “red” (strawberry), “blue” (blueberry) and “black” (boysenberry) varieties.  He quickly became fixated on the red one and begged me to use it, so I poured a little bit on a small piece for him as a sample. As the red lava hit his tongue, it was immediately rejected like a Kardashian by Harvard.  I doused the rest of his pancakes with his beloved brown syrup and watched him go to town. 

A few minutes later, I asked the server again where my salad was.  The restaurant was three-quarters empty and we were sitting parallel to the kitchen, which I could tell wasn’t busy as I watched the bored chefs juggling eggs.  I started to wonder if they had to dispatch someone to the nearest grocery store because they don’t usually stock vegetables at IHOP due to their infrequent use.  As the Little Dude polished off the last of his fluffy circles of Dr. Atkins’ mortal enemy, I finally received my bowl of greens, chicken and cheese.  A mere 25 minutes after ordering. It tasted exactly as you’d expect a Chicken Caesar Salad to taste at IHOP.  But as I wolfed it down, I saw the glazed look of a satiated toddler sitting across from me and knew that he had indeed been comforted. Mission accomplished.



Where do you go, or what do you eat, when you want comfort food? 




78 comments:

  1. Matzo ball soup. Growing up goy, I didn't have it. We had chicken noodle, but this is way better. I love it.

    "Post apocalyptic smurf village" for the win, by the way!

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    1. Chicken Noodle is good but it doesn't leave you with a bowling ball in your gut for 2 days like a good old fashioned Matza Ball does. Glad you discovered it. Jerry's Deli's MBS is one of the few things worth going there for.

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  2. Oh God yes matzo ball soup!! I make a really good one, but if I'm not feeling well, I'll call my sister's mother-in-law, the born-again Christian who makes the best soup this side of New York. Tomato soup and grilled cheese (with mushrooms) are also a good comfort food.

    Or anything with sour cream.

    Or JUST sour cream.

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    1. Kim, You hit the nail on the head with mushroom grilled cheese w/tomato soup. That is just about perfection.

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  3. PB & J with milk. Always.

    This story was very clever, I love the spoiler alert:)

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    1. Oh, that is a good call, too. You can never go wrong with PB&J.

      Thanks, I hope the alert helped ;)

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  4. Oh I love the picture, he's adorable!

    Comfort food for me is sadly - anything chocolate. Sigh.

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    1. Thanks, Alison.

      In terms of your comfort food, you are definitely not in the minority with that choice :)

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  5. Ohhh IHOP is delicious - i LOVE breakfast foods too. Yummmm....

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    1. Yeah, good stuff. Have you had those cinnabon-style pancakes? Just looking at them gives you a cavity.

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  6. ShiftlessKid 1 recently discovered at a family breakfast outing that dipping bacon in syrup and then sucking the syrup off the bacon is, in fact, delicious. Bravo to Little Dude for trying the red syrup, even if it was awful. Very funny story!

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    1. Thanks, I guess that's a modern take on the old Fun Dip candy.

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  7. He's totally carb drunk. That's awesome. Comfort food for me is anything served at the table at my grandmother's house. Anything I don't have to cook.

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    1. Yes, he is a total carbaholic. Need to even that out a bit, but it's hard to argue when he'd rather eat rice cakes than french fries.

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  8. mmmm love me some pancakes.
    my husband and i went out once to IHOP for dinner. i got a breakfasty dish, he ordered steak. at IHOP. it was purple. or maybe it was green. i don't remember what color other than NAS-TY. he should've known better, and now he most certainly does: ya only get breakfasty foods at IHOP!

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    1. Sometimes you have to learn a lesson from eating a purple steak. Pancakes all the way!

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  9. My comfort food...pizza or nachos. I don't like breakfast food so not a huge fan of IHOP but my 3 monkeys LOVE IT so we go there with some frequency.

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  10. I'd dig in a tub of Baskin Robbins :P

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    1. That is ambitious of you. What flavor do you like best?

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  11. "a post-apocalyptic Smurf village" - Ha!
    When we want comfort food we go to sushi, would you believe. And IHOP is great for kiddie's breakfasts!

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    1. Sushi as modern day comfort food = hilarious.

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  12. Anythng with melted cheese will do. Love your blog by the way - glad I stumbled upon in through yeah write.

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    1. Mmmmmmmmmmmm, cheese :)

      Glad you found me, too! Hope to see you around the page.

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  13. Love the "rejected like a Kardashian at Harvard"--ha! In the middle of all this lovely food talk, there was serious funny going down. Fun piece, Erin

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  14. Wonderful post, funny and well-done. Black-eyed pea soup is my comfort food and no one else in my family will eat it, so. . .when I make a pot I end up with comfort to spare.

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    1. Thanks, Louise. Black Eyed Peas are not my thing either. The food or the band.

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  15. This is written in such a humorous way! I am so glad that your little one got much needed comfort food, even if it had to be at scary IHOP. I'm a spaghetti and meatballs comfort food kinda gal.

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    1. Ooh, a good bowl of pasta will definitely warm you up.

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  16. Great post! Unfortunately my daughters go to place for comfort food is Friendly's- another place where you have to worry if it's just the syrup making the booths sticky!

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    1. I grew up with Friendly's, though there aren't any where I live now. Don't remember their food, but their ice cream is good!

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  17. A post-apocalyptic Smurf village and rejected like a Kardashian from Harvard. Funny stuff. Sweet post even if I don't care for the IHOP experience. Though that salad that they must have taken them some tim to harvest from their kitchen garden (yeahwrite) sounds delicious. Love salads... and anything that has the combination of dark chocolate & peanut butter! Yum.

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    1. Interesting combo. I'm not a big dark chocolate fan, but I bet it's good.

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  18. ooh. sunnyside up eggs with some hashbrowns. that'll do :)

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    1. Do you make a smiley face with them, with the eggs as eyes and hashbrowns as a mouth?

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  19. Aww. Cute! My guy is a breakfast guy too and terribly picky as well. He loves IHOP. His parents do not. Everything there is terrible. What we do for our kids...

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    1. The breakfast stuff there can be good. Other stuff, eh.

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  20. You have much more willpower than I've ever had. Breakfast foods are my weakness. I would have dug into a pile of pancakes and sausage and bacon and whatever else I could get my grubby hands on :)

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    1. When I took him back a few days later, we both got pancakes :)

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  21. (Spoiler Alert: when you get all the way to the end, someone joins Weight Watchers.) <--- THIS cracked me up! Laughter is always welcome! Thank you!

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  22. Dude. Now I want pancakes. I wonder what I would have to promise The Mister to get him to drive to IHOP right now and get me pancakes. Probably a lot more than I want to promise. Sigh.

    Comfort food for me is anything deep fried and smothered in chocolate. Which coincidentally is probably why I have that prescription for Lipitor.

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    1. Sorry, Delilah. I bet you can entice him one way or another :)

      Deep fried...mmmmmmmmmm.

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  23. If I need comfort food, I need mashed potatoes. Or scotch.

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  24. Haha @ post-apocalyptic smurf village! Love the visual imagery that conjures up. I'm glad your little one enjoyed his comfort food!

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  25. you're killing me, dude, that was hilarious. the best comfort food ever is chicken fried steak, which, like you, i have sworn off because I would like to live to see (some number of years older than what i am). but i'm not opposed to a stack of waffles and some whipped cream either. glad your little dude is feeling better!

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    1. Thanks, Smushy. I've always wanted to try chicken fried steak, but can't bring myself to do it. At least not without a cardiologist by my side. Thanks for your good wishes.

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  26. comfort food...a good diner meal: BLT (with cheese), french fries, and lots of extra pickles. which is totally making my mouth water, as I write this. you realize, of course, that now you've started an addiction for little dude...i started cooking pancakes for my kids, even on school mornings, and now i do it pretty much EVERY DAY. deep sigh.

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    1. Do you make the batter in advance? Otherwise it's a big time suck every day. Or much needed quiet time.

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  27. I live in Jersey...home of the Diner! If I need comfort food that where I go. Pork roll, egg, & cheese on an everything bagel or grilled cheese with tomatoes & a side of cheese fries with gravy. YUM!
    Morning, noon or night, if we head to the diner my kids get silver dollar pancakes with a side of bacon. Kid 2 who's two loves her pork products!

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  28. Very cute kid.

    I am from PA and my comfort food, hands down and without a doubt, is anything from Wawa. I think Wawa is an east coast anomaly, and is essentially a convenience store that happens to make the best hoagies and sandwiches in the world. We had a Wawa in my town growing up, and it always reminds me of home.

    Glad I found the blog :)

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    1. Thanks, YB. Never been to Wawa, though I've heard good things.

      Glad you found it, and that I found yours, too. Don't be a stranger.

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  29. So freaking cute. And now you've put IHOP in my head and all I can think about are pancakes and all the different syrups... damn

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    1. Thanks, Angela. IMO, the only one worth trying other than maple is blueberry. Let me know if you check 'em out.

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  30. Wow - you really captured the essence of IHOP here. We've been to our local one a couple of times and things like "I should have known to never order steak at a breakfast place" and "my heart hurts" were said afterwards. But I'm glad it worked for your little guy :)

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    1. "My heart hurts" --> LOL. Hope you recovered. Stick with the pancakes and waffles there!

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  31. Comfort food is definitely a grilled cheese and lentil soup in my own kitchen in my jammies :) Your little dude sure is cute.

    And I don't know why but when I get terrible service at a restaurant like that, for no apparent reason, I am nice, but FURIOUS. Maybe it's because I know why... they're all dicking around in the back, smoking, eating food, and talking.

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    1. Thanks, Pish. Grilled cheese is an excellent choice.

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  32. Where do I go for comfort food?.......... My mother's. ;)

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  33. My kids love pancakes dipped in whipped cream. As for my comfort food the list is endless. It could be sushi one day, Baskin Robbins the next. And sometimes I'll make my own mac-n-cheese.

    In grade 12 once a week a group of us would get together at IHOP and have breakfast. It was this great ritual and I thought I loved it there until years later. I returned and I just couldn't hack it. There is just nothing redeemable about that place except that pic of your boy. So, so cute!

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    1. Wow, you are the 2nd person to list sushi as a comfort food. I would have never guessed that. To each his own, I guess.

      We were the same way with Bob Evans where I grew up. It was more of the communal hang out than the food quality, I guess.

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  34. My kids love IHOP and due to the "kids eat free" deal, we go there often. However, I agree that they took The Lorax a little too seriously!

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    1. Have you seen their Lorax pancakes that cause cavities from looking at the menu description?

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  35. Comfort food for me is Italian. But for my daughter, like your son, it's pancakes (or waffles, or french toast, or any breakfast food at any time of day, really). We frequent our local diner where I have had many a disappointing salad only to be endlessly comforted by the delight on her face as she stuffs her mouth with french toast.
    Great post :)

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    1. That's what it's all about, Tricia. That smile makes it worthwhile. Thanks.

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  36. Love this! Tebow at a strip club, funny. And such joy at the discovery of the multiple choices for flavoring pancakes. Comfort? Peanut butter right from the jar. On desperate occasions, I have been known to fall asleep with an open jar, spoon stuck in the middle and peaking out of the top, sitting next to the bed. It's so comforting it puts me out better than a shot of whiskey and a lullaby.

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    1. Thanks, KS! PB is a favorite of mine. I was eating so much of it that I had to take a break for a while, though :(

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  37. We have a run-down IHOP not too far, and I've been once with the kids. They loved it, of course. And it was fine (I also love bfast food). But it was depressing and a little dingy. Sad.

    Maybe I'll try again the next time I'm desperate to feed them!

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    1. I think "run-down IHOP" is redundant, no? Not the fanciest place, but it usually does the trick.

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  38. I took Annie to IHOP because I wanted to get her one of those giant pancakes with the smiley face on it that they make - you know with whipped cream and a strawberry. I was beyond excited to see how happy she would be when it came, but she, to my shock and sadness, was "meh" about it. She ate a few bites and lost interest.

    I, of course, enjoyed the rest of her smiley face pancake immensely.

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    1. I was going to order the Little Dude one of those on a subsequent trip, but anticipated his ambivalence in advance and stuck with the silver dollars.

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  39. You are really making me crave IHOP. Love it!

    Thanks for linking up to #findingthefunny!

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