Chow Down In Milwaukee

Restaurant Reviews

Because Great Food And Service Should Be A Tradition

There are few places I consider as venerable as Traditional Pancake House. It is located at 5121 s 76th street across from Southridge mall in Greendale. My earliest memories were going there as a young man with my grandfather. The owner’s daughter Sandra occasionally stopped to do business with me at the Greendale post office when I was working there. Presently, it is somewhere I love going with Margie where we always enjoy great food and lots of laughter.

Traditional Pancake House is owned by Gene Van Remmen and his wife Judie. Gene began his restaurant career back in 1953 as a busboy at a Dutchland Dairy store. Soon he was managing several restaurants and eventually became vice president of a national chain establishment. Gene knew he really wanted to open his own place. At one point there were three operating Traditional Pancake Houses, but today just one remains.

Sadly, today Margie was not able to join my mother and me as we decided to take in breakfast here. I confess I had not been here in a while and was looking forward to returning. Traditional Pancake House is housed in a triangle building on the west side of 76th street right across from the mall and if you are not paying attention you might miss it. That could be the only reason it had slipped my mind to come here. We decided to go to breakfast on a late Sunday morning, usually one of the busier times for a restaurant known for its breakfast and lunch.

As soon as we opened the door we were greeted by a smell I can only describe as breakfast. All at once you could take in the smell of pancakes being cooked on the griddle, bacon frying away, and coffee being brewed. There is a special board right as you entered listing the days highlighted options. One of these options was ‘stuffed pancakes’. It seemed my mind had already been made up for me. There was also a western breakfast burrito and Nutella crepes listed. All the options sounded amazing.

As we entered the restaurant itself our suspicions of it being one of the busiest times were substantiated. It seemed as if every booth and table were occupied and servers raced around us in an efficient but diligent manner. The hostess seemed to be assisting one of the servers with what seemed to be an unusually large order. When she returned to see us waiting to be seated she apologized repeatedly even though we assured her we had only been waiting but a few minutes and could obviously see they were quite busy. After rushing to make sure the table she was going to lead us to was clean, she came back, and we were seated right away.

Traditional pancake house has an ‘up north feel’ as my mom accurately described it. It features several cottage type items many with coffee and breakfast themes. Today the décor included several fall themed items as well. It gives the place a rather welcoming and comforting feeling without being overdone. Although there are several booths and tables fit into a rather small place it does not leave you feeling cramped or crowded in the slightest.

Soon our server Lily came to our table and that is what made me decide to complete a review on this day. Being a server and working with the public can be trying even on the best of times. Lily was an amazing server. Equal parts friendly and helpful she guided us through the menu offering her favorites and offering us suggestions. She joked and made us feel more welcome than I can remember a server doing in quite some time. After taking our beverage orders she gave us time to look over the menu.

A word about the menu at Traditional Pancake House, it is full of offerings that sound too good for words. I thought my mind had been made up when reading the special board, but soon found myself also considering raspberry blintzes and the 5-star breakfast which included eggs, French toast, pancakes, sausage and bacon. With some encouragement from Lily, our server, I went with the blintzes. My mother chose the traditional omelette. This contained ham, cheese, green peppers and onion and was topped with a chili salsa. It also came served with a side of pancakes.

It what seemed like no time our food was created and in front of us. My blintzes were tasty crepes rolled around a combination of cheeses and topped with a raspberry sauce and whip cream. Sour cream was also an option, but Lily informed us whip cream was the preferred choice. This was a delicious and flavorful dish. The cheese was cool and delicious. The crepes had both a great texture as well as flavor. The raspberry topping was something I was a bit concerned about. I was worried it would be too sweet or fake tasting. My worry was completing unfounded. The taste was not only the perfect amount of sweet, but there were also pieces of real raspberries in the sauce as well. I also ordered a side of bacon to include a little savory in my meal. Although I would have enjoyed a thicker cut of bacon, the flavor was great, and it was cooked just as I like it done.

My mother’s omelette was also delicious. Thick and hearty, it certainly was enough for the healthy appetites we brought with us. The chili salsa did not have much of a bite and I may have been inclined to add a little hot sauce. Still, the flavor and fresh taste made up for the lack of heat. The ham and vegetables that were included all tasted wonderful as well. The egg portion was neither too dry or too runny but done to perfection. The side of pancakes were somewhere between silver dollar and regular size. Which seemed perfect for a side. They were extremely fluffy and were served with a ball of whipped butter on top and a bottle of syrup on the side. Margie would love this as that means you can apply as much syrup as your heart desires.

We finished our meals completely, which is a testimony in itself. My mom still had coffee left because at Traditional Pancake House they give you a small carafe of coffee so you never run out. As we sat and talked I decided that I wanted to bring home a piece of this amazing day to Margie. She had jokingly mentioned wanting sausage patties before I left so I took the liberty of ordering some for her. Lily brought them back with well wishes written on top of the container. Margie described them as “super yummy, full of flavor, with a little spice” which is pretty much what you would ask of a sausage patty.

As we were paying and leaving Lily even came up to assist us with that. We informed her how much we enjoyed our service. She looked at us with a genuine sense of appreciation and informed us we had made her day. Little did she know, by being so helpful and funny she had done the same for us. As my mom said at the end of the meal, “Now that is great customer service.” I am already looking forward to taking Margie back to the Traditional Pancake House. Maybe next time I will get the 5-star Breakfast after all.


Written By: Neil Panosian

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