This is a review from the Hartford Courant published April 7, 2011. Click here to see the original article »
When I was a kid, the ultimate fine-dining experience always involved a trip to a local pancake house. Stacks of fluffy silver-dollar pancakes, little paper cups of whipped butter, bottles of sticky boysenberry syrup or that rarest of treats, one usually reserved for birthdays, good report cards or consolations on the death of a pet: a giant pancake dotted with chocolate chips and crowned with fluffy ruffles of canned whipped topping. To a 9-year-old, there was nothing better. Thankfully, my culinary tastes have changed since grade school. But sometimes, nothing beats a pancake supper, accompanied by a side of nostalgia.
THE VIBE: The first thing you notice about Chip’s is the long line snaking out of the restaurant. It looks daunting but actually moves quite swiftly. Inside, the decor is chain-restaurant generic, though large plate-glass windows, warm oak trim and tomato-red walls add a bright dose of cheer.
THE FOOD: The extensive menu features lunch and dinner specials, including such old-school diner stand-bys as liver and onions, roast turkey and meatloaf. There are also some trendier choices, like wraps and paninis. But Chip’s lives and dies by its pancakes. The family-owned restaurant, which has been around for 45 years, calls itself the home of Connecticut’s best pancakes and we can’t disagree. The selections range from basic buttermilk for the pancake purist to an assortment of fruit-topped cakes to savory potato pancakes. Kids will appreciate the many sugary concoctions: pancakes topped with M&Ms or rainbow sprinkles and whipped cream or those slathered with chocolate, which seem more like dessert than breakfast. Not in the mood for pancakes? Chip’s serves waffles, French toast, omelets and egg dishes as well. Breakfast is available all day.
We sampled the patriotic pancake — five fluffy cakes topped with strawberries, blueberries and bananas ($9.29). It looked and tasted great. The coffee-cake pancakes, buttermilk beauties sprinkled with cinnamon chips, was a bit too sweet. But the chocolate chip pancakes ($6.99) struck the right balance between creamy chocolate and mellow cake. They didn’t even need syrup. Speaking of syrup, Chip’s offers a choice beyond the basic maple. There’s coconut, strawberry, pecan, apricot, blackberry and boysenberry; all superior to the fake, maple-flavored stuff that’s also on the table (real maple syrup is available for a small upcharge). Scrambled eggs were fairly standard, though the accompanying home fries were tasty. Despite all the creative pancake combinations, the plain old buttermilk pancakes ($5.99) were my favorites, with the tang of the buttermilk providing a nice contrast to the sweetness of the cake.
THE BILL: Most of the breakfast offerings are less than $10. Dinner entrees range from $9.99 to $14.99. Come hungry: The portions at Chip’s are mammoth. In fact, unless you are famished, a short stack (generally three pancakes) should suffice. The omelets look large enough to feed a small family.
THE PARTICULARS: Open 7 days a week, from 7 a.m. to 9 p.m.
THE VERDICT: It’s easy to see why Chip’s has been around for four and a half decades. Food trends come and go, but nothing beats a trip to the pancake house.