I just got back from holiday in Orlando this morning which will explain my lack of posts over the last week. Anyway, this was my 2nd time in Florida but I have been to the States quite a few times and one of my favourite places to visit is the IHOP AKA International House of Pancakes.
IHOP has been around since the late 50's and there is currently over 1500 restaurants in 50 states across the USA, in Canada, South America and the US Virgin Islands....sadly none in the UK.
IHOP is such a novelty for me, I rarely ever have cooked breakfast and I don't know of anywhere in the UK that does decent American style pancakes. The closest thing I have found is the Frankie and Benny's Bacon And Syrup Pancake Stack. Whenever I visit IHOP I always order the same thing which is the Pick-a-Pancake Combo. This is 2 pancakes of your choice, 2 eggs, hash browns and a choice of 2 bacon strips or 2 sausages. I go for Chocolate, Chocolate Chip pancakes, the sausages and my eggs done over-well.
I am not sure if all sausages in the US are like those served at the IHOP as this is the only place that I have eaten them. They are more like a chipolata as they are smaller and thinner than the good old English banger and have a bit of a herby taste. Hash browns also appear to be different, I am more used to the patty version but the IHOP version (again, I am not sure if this is the case all over the US) is more just a pile of fried shredded potato coated in lots of butter...this is no bad thing though they taste delicious! The pancakes are quite frankly amazing which is what you would hope for from the International House of Pancakes, they are thick but light and fluffy and very chocolatley!
The thing that I really love in the US is the service that you get when you eat out and even in somewhere as cheap and cheerful as the IHOP it was impeccable. Drinks were refilled free of charge without anyone having to ask, sometimes before we had even finished what was our glasses and the servers are always so cheery and helpful. I assume that this is because tips make up part of their wages which is not usual practice here in the UK and I am not suggesting that it should be but I do think we have a lot to learn when it comes to service.
This is a total animal of a breakfast and despite not finishing it all, it kept me going most of the day so no need for lunch. IHOP is pretty good value for money too, there was 3 of us and we all ordered the Pick-a-Pancake Combo and a soft drink and the total bill excluding tip came to $34.34 which at the current exchange rate I make that about £21.40 (so about £7.13 a head). For that much food and great service, you really can't go wrong and I really hope that some day they open an IHOP in the UK!