Pancakes, for me, bring back the nostalgia of teenage university years.
Pancakes on The Rocks had just opened and, given any occasion, my sister and I would make the trip into the city to indulge. In the days of Easy Rider, pancakes were all the rage, and The Rocks venue was the place to go!
Housed in a century old warehouse, the former hangout of wharfies, gangs and the working class, it was the time when the whole Rocks area was undergoing gentrification as an arts/bar scene.
Descend the stairs, and piles of fluffy pancakes could be yours, topped with maple syrup, whipped cream and ice cream. It was the ultimate night of indulgence!
Over forty years later, the chain has expanded and “embarked on a rebirth by adding to the menu pizzas, a new range of salads, crêpes, pancakes and our now famous beef and pork ribs”, its latest venue opening in the Soul Arcade, the owners’ home territory.
Nostalgic memories flood my mind as we dine again at Pancakes on the Rocks. How much has changed, and are the pancakes just as delicious?
For starters, the Surfers venue is completely different. The original restaurant is unrivalled in its beauty, with hand cut sandstone blocks and rustic timber tables. In the contemporary Soul complex, we enter a modern restaurant, well placed to maximize the tourist trade. Its laminate, timber and vinyl-boothed interior looks out through huge glass windows onto an upmarket urban arcade of glass and sculpted metal; great for crowd gazing on busy days.
Excellent service is one of the major plusses of this restaurant. The wait staff are cheery and eager to give recommendations.
The restaurant has gained a liquor license since our last visit, with a decent range of beers and a few wines on offer. It’s a family restaurant, however, and fittingly, the emphasis is on soft options such as shakes in the drink department.
Pancakes, in all their derivations, form the core of the menu. From the Aussie Sunrise served with bacon and egg, grilled banana and pineapple ($15.95) to Devil’s Delight, chocolate pancakes with strawberries, cream and chocolate ice cream drizzled with chocolate sauce ($15.95), from breakfast until supper, they’re the star.
As promised, however, there’s the addition of crêpes, a lighter option to the fluffy stack. Choose crêpes instead of pancakes and you’ll get double the number. Deal done!
We skip the nachos and pizzas, settling on pork ribs and steak for mains, saving room for dessert (we hope).
The food arrives within five minutes, shortly after our drinks; a bonus if you’re in a hurry.
The rack of pork ribs is pretty delicious. Fall off the bone tender, they’d benefit from a little more heat on the grill and more sauce. Still, they rate well above average. A rack of a dozen ribs, 600g in total, they’re served with deliciously crisp twisty beer-battered wedges, my favourite of any we’ve eaten recently, and a fresh salad garnish ($35.95).
The 300g Ribeye Steak, served with the same chips and garnish as the ribs, is juicy and tender with a nice smoky flavour; a good value meal for a family restaurant ($28.95).
Firstly, Bananarama ($13.95), two buttermilk pancakes with grilled bananas and homemade butterscotch sauce topped with cream and ice cream. These are the pancakes from the stack I remember. Light and fluffy, they’re a meal in themselves, for us a perfect ‘dessert meal’ if you are feeling like one.
Not much has changed in this world. They’re just as good as I remember, the house butterscotch instead of maple syrup a fine addition that really complements the grilled banana.
And those stacks I remember? They’re still available by number, from $4.95 for one to $9.95 for four. There’s even a take home pack of pancake mix, but honestly? We’d rather eat in!
Our dollar is on the Strawberry Patch Crêpes ($14.95) – four thin crepes topped with fresh strawberries, cream and vanilla ice cream, smothered in a not-too-sweet strawberry coulis. It’s not fine dining cuisine, but that’s the dessert we polish off; the dish we’d come back to enjoy when we feel like a decadent treat.
In the forty plus years since Pancakes on the Rocks opened, the dining scene has changed so much. We’re still in love with our carbs on cheat days, but there’s an emphasis on lighter and fresher desserts. Nostalgic retro food or modern cuisine? Pancakes on the Rocks takes a bet both ways on family dining and ends up the winner.
4 The Esplanade, Shop T1.31 Soul Arcade, Surfers Paradise Ph: 07 5570 6250 Open 7am – 10.30pm daily
Disclaimer: Good Food Gold Coast dined as a guest of the establishment.