We love breakfast in Edmonton. Maybe it’s the cold weather, the long nights, or the need to soak up our beer filled bellies at 2AM. Whatever it is, when a new breakfast joint opens, the locals here seem more than willing to push their daily bowls of cereal to the side and make an adventure of it all. De Dutch is the latest new kid on the block.
With a heritage that runs back decades, De Dutch has until this point been keeping itself confined within the walls of British Columbia*. Our lovely city is opening the 23rd location on the list. To celebrate, the family behind this franchise as well as the masterminds behind the De Dutch brand invited a selection of locals down for a welcome launch, toast and over all elbow rubbing.
I arrived to the already bustling restaurant** and found a few familiar faces already in the building. Not sure if we should stand or sit, we did a little of both as we waited to see how this event would unfold. The restaurant is separated into three smaller sections and we found a comfortable booth near the front to share. The décor is definitely more upscale than your everyday breakfast joint. It’s bright, colourful and includes a few Dutch notes that hint at what lies inside. Plus who doesn’t love a Dyson hand dryer. Well played De Dutch.
As we heard about the back story of De Dutch, as well as what to expect, we learned that the goal here is something different. They described De Dutch as an upscale breakfast establishment that will easily step away from those “other breakfast joints we all know”. So what is De Dutch you ask? Well, it’s a pancake house. A pancake house from the Netherlands. A pannekoek house. What does a pannekoek house serve, well pannekoeken of course!
The Dutch/Belgian pancakes are larger than what we are accustomed to here in Canada. With a circumference of 37” and a diameter of 12”, it’s truly a size matters argument with this disc. They say you can cut a pannekoek into 113 square inch bites. Pretty sure I could get easily get one down the gullet in under 15. Thicker than a crepe and thinner than your normal weekend pancake creation, this behemoth was starting to remind me of the big flour tortillas they use to create a Mission burrito in San Francisco. You can order your pannekoek with an assortment of toppings, both sweet and savory. From debakon (ham) to granola, eggs to apples, potatoes to whipping cream.
As the night went on, I couldn’t help but wonder why the serving staff was passing around pannekoek that were wrapped up and cut into tiny pinwheels. I understand that you want the event to be about mingling, but lets get some real examples of the food. I also found it a little displeasing to be receiving the luke warm samples we did get. Nothing says ‘I want to have another sample’ like food that has missed its prime by a few minutes. Eventually the curiosity got the better of us and we inquired about a full pannekoek. Thankfully things stepped up a notch at this point and we were soon fed a beautiful grilled Brie, Blueberry and Red Onion sandwich – called a tostie – while we waited for the real deal pancake.
What arrived was exactly what was described. The extra large pancake acts like a base for the toppings which are put directly on top. Including the containers I might add, which I think might cause any germaphobes to crawl back into their cars. How does one eat this monster you ask, because we sure did. Thankfully, there is no official way. You can roll it up, slice it apart, or just make a mess of it on your plate. Heck, eat the toppings by themselves and then slather the plain pannekoek in maple syrup. Or better yet, STROOP!
The two examples we received included one of their best sellers The Canadian – DeBakon, “Free Run” Eggs with Genuine Maple Syrup and Tomato Garnish – as well as the Apple, Debakon + Onion with Stroop. We subbed out the debakon in our second dish for good ol’ turkey bacon. The Canadian was my favourite of the two. Mixing together the fried ham and eggs before smothering the whole thing in maple syrup was great. The apple version could have used a little more grill time to soften both the apple and the onions in my opinion. All said, I’m certainly glad we asked to see a properly prepared example. It was even hot!
As our group sat and enjoyed the post meal cool down, I had to wonder if the team behind this franchise has met their lofty goal. Is this truly a step above the everyday breakfast joint? Yes and no. Yes because it sells something new to the city. Yes because it’s downtown. Yes because it’s a beautiful breakfast space. Yes because it’s unique. All those things make it a place to visit. Just look at what Cora’s has done with their fresh fruit angle; it’s always busy. I know for certain that I’ll be back to get a better taste of the real De Dutch experience. On the flip side, they need to maintain the high standard. This is breakfast after all. I can make eggs at home. I can flip hot cakes. I can cut up some fruit. What we want is a fun, entertaining place that provides decent value and a dependable pannekoeken experience. Don’t let us down De Dutch, you`re proving we all need a good pannekoek once in awhile.
*We learned that there was talks around a franchise in St. Albert years back, but that never came to fruition.
**The restaurant is NOT open for supper.