the breakfast dictator [215]

The Pancake Farm | Ephrata, PA

Posted in Diner Review, Fine Living Lancaster by thebreakfastdictator on August 19, 2010

Pancake Farm | Ephrata, PA

First published in Fine Living Lancaster, Issue 13.

It seems that every little town has a breakfast place that goes unnoticed by most everyone but the locals. These are the little gems of the community: the places where the regulars come in every single morning and order the very same thing. The servers knew their names and vice versa. They chit-chat every morning about the goings on around town. These little restaurants are full of small town romance and charm and what a pleasure it is to visit them.

The Pancake Farm landed on my radar, I think, in the fall of last year when 222 was under construction and 272 was the “speedier” alternate. As I sat the red-light where 272 and State Street form a Y, it looked oh-so-full of promise.

The dining area was larger than it looked from the outside and every table was full. This place is a gem. There were no window seats, which, of course, is always my preference as the beautiful morning light streaming through the windows always makes picture-making so much easier. The bar had a few empty seats and now it had one less.

“You didn’t by any chance go to Cocalico, did you?”

“No. I didn’t.”

“Hmm. Well, you looked like one of my former students. I coulda swore you were him.”

“Nope. Sorry. I grew up in Solanco. In fact, I don’t even know where Cocalico is.”

“It’s not too far from here. Maybe a few miles. I taught there for ten years, but now I work for the state.”

Every day of the week, there’s a breakfast special here and it’s only $2.99. To-day’s looked rather welcoming and I knew I’d order it, but I asked for the menu anyway. Maybe it’s just a habit. I don’t know. I just have to look at the menu. I want to know all of my options. Every single one.

“I’ll have to-day’s special, please.”

Brian | The Pancake Farm

“You see your server?”


“She was one of my students.”

“Ha! That’s crazy. What’s your name?”


“I’m David.”

Lancaster County kitsch is different from any other kinda kitsch. You know you’re home (even if you’re in a neighboring town) when you’re in a restaurant or even a friend’s dining room when it’s decorated with little iron kettles and mason jars and other kitcheny sort of things.

“You come here often?”

“No. Not too often. I think this is my first time in about two months. But I should come more often. The prices are unbeatable and the food is great!”

Scrambled eggs, tomatoes and cheddar cheese wrapped in a sun dried tomato wrap arrived in front of me rather quickly and Brian was right. This food is great. I could come here every day. I could be a regular. Or at least a semi-regular. Oh, to dream.

“Hey, why don’t you hand me your check? I’ll take care it for you. It was good chatting.”

“You sure? That’s awfully nice of you. Thanks!”

“Where’re you headed to now?”

“I work in Mechanicsburg.”

“That’s awfully far. Enjoy your day!”

“You too.”

Every little town has a few breakfast gems. To-day, I found one of Ephrata’s.

Wish You Were Here | Lancaster, PA

Posted in Breakfast Portraits, Fine Living Lancaster by thebreakfastdictator on August 18, 2010

Erika | Wish You Were Here

First Published in Fine Living Lancaster, Issue 13

It’s so cold out. It’d feel better to stay in bed. It’s warm here. Really warm. But there’s breakfast waiting. Well, it’s not waiting just yet. But it will be. Hurry up. That flannel shirt looks warm and so does the thermal for underneath it. I wonder how close I’ll be able to find parking? I’m late. Man, I’m always late. She’ll be waiting. Better text her and let her know.

The cold January morning was punctuated with splashes of the quick-rising sun. The sun in the winter-time is bitter sweet. In the morning it is beautiful, falsely promising temperatures it could never deliver. On those afternoons, I wish for grey clouds. Grey and winter simply belong to-gether. But on this frigid January morning, the foggy front window and warm yellow glow of this downtown breakfast joint was unbelievably welcoming. Warmer temperatures, hot Square One coffee and pancakes await.

We got a window seat. I love sitting by this window, even when it’s fogged. The light is soft and beautiful, perfect for picture-making. Our waitress, one I’ve not seen here before, came and brought us coffee. Square One coffee. I love that coffee-shop. They’ve got the best coffee around. Sipping it felt so good. This place feels so much like home. I’d put these tables in my kitchen and that wainscot too. I might even paint it green, just like it is here. You know what? I even had a dream about this place last night and it was my home.

The first time I ate here was oh-five or oh-six, maybe? The single-sheet yellow menus haven’t changed since then but I fawned over them like every other time I’m here. I know what I’m gonna order but I mull over every item anyways. While I can’t remember the precise date of my first jaunt here, I do remember what I ordered – the Swedes. These were quite possibly the best pancakes I’ve ever had. I order them ‘most every time I come. And I don’t even like pancakes.

It was good catching up with E, though every once in a while, I’d get distracted by the loud-ish conversation coming from the larger group at the center of the room. Our tone was slightly somber, but as we were caught away by this blithe breakfast experience our mood gladdened about the same time we finished filling ourselves with this fantastic food.

Morning was growing old.

We paid and exited into the bright blue morning.

The sun was still out but it was no warmer.