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Archive for the tag “The Donut Hole”

Panclog #33: Floridian Panclog Tour

Actin’ a fool in Florida

4/12/2017 & 4/15/2017
group

Note from Jared: My wife and I crashed the Morgan’s vacation. Because it was Brent’s vacation, I will let you enjoy his amazing narrating skills.

Your intrepid Pancloggers, on a whim, decided to experience the breakfast foods of the great state of Florida. Well it was not exactly on a whim, much planning was involved. Do not doubt the adventurous nature of your Cloggers though because we chose to bring along our wives. Not only that, we brought four teenagers. Yes, Jared and I are not only brave,and handsome, we are willing to accept any challenge regardless of its danger. Within reason of course. We would not necessarily shop for the most sought after Christmas gift, but we would certainly brave a light sprinkling rain. Only if we had a raincoat, slickers, and permission from our moms.
You might be saying, I understand taking the spouses, who could handle that much trouble if you left them behind, but why would you drag four teenagers along. Especially considering that one teenager is excessive enough. To that, we must ask, would you leave four teenagers home alone to destroy all of your personal property. No, we had to accept the lesser evil and bring them along with us. We may have regretted this at times, but it is better than coming home and discovering your house burnt to the ground.

With our wives and my children in tow we headed out to Florida, specifically Seacrest Beach, FL. Seacrest Beach is adjacent to Rosemary Beach, and the two areas blend into what feels like one larger neighborhood. The community feels wholly separate from the other areas of the panhandle, especially its closest neighbor, Panama City Beach. The community is quaint, friendly, clean, and endearing. It seems that when the planners developed this resort city they had their eye squarely on the well to do family. I am truly surprised they let us in.

The area shuts down about 10 pm every night, and there is not much nightlife available. Cool with me because I was looking for relaxing vacation with an opportunity to just enjoy an easygoing week. There are many activities planned for the residents that are fun and free. For instance, a family scavenger hunt helped you discover all that Rosemary had to offer. They also had a movie night on the green where they played Star Wars: Rogue One. It was an outdoor showing in the cool night air.

The white sandy beaches on the Florida panhandle are the most beautiful beaches in the US in my opinion. The Outer Banks in North Carolina are a close second. The beaches in this particular area are private and require special access. In our case, they gave us wristbands to show that we were renting a place. I highly recommend going to the beach late on a clear night. The stars come out in great numbers then.

It is a great place to just sit back and leave the technology behind.

There is one aspect of Florida that is quite odd: spoons are a rare commodity. We did not think much of it at the first time we noticed it, but the house we rented only had two normal sized spoons. We would soon discover upon dining out at a few places, that Florida is stingy with their spoons. Spoons were not part of the silverware pack left on any of the tables and only delivered when the food in question required it. I believe a million dollar business idea is up for grabs here in solving Florida’s spoon shortage.

I digress.

Let us return to the subject that everyone is most interested in, Breakfast. With Jared’s stated goal of finding a place that is so good that he buys the shirt, we had high expectations. Couple that with a population that skews to senior adults, you would expect Florida has it going on in the breakfast department.

Our first eatery was a popular placed called The Donut Hole. With a name like that, one would expect empty plates. Terrible joke. I am sorry. I would like to say it will not happen again, but I cannot guarantee it. Low hanging fruit must be picked.
Hole

The Donut Hole is a nice looking restaurant built like a refurbished barn. The ceilings are vaulted very high making for a huge and spacious feel. The floor plan is wide open with tables that are well spaced and easy to move around in. The atmosphere in The Donut Hole is quite appealing. There is one downside to this; sound echoes quite a bit making it difficult to hear. At least for me.

Perhaps the most intriguing item on the menu is a bit of local cuisine called Tomato Gravy. To this good Midwestern boy the words Tomato and Gravy sound like two concepts that should not be mixed. It sounds straight up weird causing my head to do the quizzical dog head tilt. One of our brave number actually tried the Tomato Gravy with biscuits. Her view was that it tastes like a thick, floury, tomato soup. While I did not try it, it feels unappetizing.

(Megan) {Hello Humans of Panclog!  Wifey here. I am the adventurous soul that ordered the ill-advised Biscuits and Tomato Gravy.  First of all, I ordered the half order, which consisted of one biscuit and a 8oz-ish bowl of tomato gravy.  The size of the order was enough to solidify that I never want to order that again.  When I travel, it brings me much joy to try the local “flavor” and the waitress stressed that tomato gravy is very Floridean, so I tried it.  I won’t disparage other people’s life choices, but tomato gravy is not for me.  It tasted like tomato soup blended with country gravy, which I found distasteful.  The biscuit, however, was moist and fluffy.  Wifey out}

Grav

I ordered the facetiously named “Diet Plate”. The dish was very similar to the Country Benedict at Big Biscuit. The plate begins with a very large biscuit split and stacked with a mess of scrambled eggs and two sausage patties. They are sure to cover everything in sausage gravy. On the side is a pile of hash browns.
Diet

The side of hash browns were quite tasty. I am a huge fan. There was not a need to add any additional seasoning and their flavor came across as quite peppery. Having not to add additional seasoning to the side potatoes on a breakfast plate is pleasing. I appreciate the chef who does it just right.

Unfortunately, the “Diet Plate” was not any better than what Big Biscuit produces. It was not bad by any stretch of the imagination, it just did not shine overtop of any other breakfast place. If I lived in Florida, The Donut Hole would enter the regular rotation of breakfast places that I would visit. I enjoyed the meal but I did not want to buy the shirt.

Sadly, neither did Jared.

Now for a bit of total honesty. We went to a restaurant called The Donut Hole, and yet we did not purchase a donut. I do feel a little ashamed about this turn of events.

(Vesta) Hey there Panclog fans!! This is the other blushing bride. The Donut Hole was a clean, bright, and airy establishment with the donut shop and a restuarant area. There were several seating options for large and small groups. It was apparent it is a popular choice for visitors in the area (not sure about the locals.)

For my selection at the Donut Hole, I chose the Gulf Coast Crabmeat Benedict, and coffee. The coffee was pretty good, and the waitress was frequently back for refills. My meal consisted of poached eggs with two crab cakes atop a lightly toasted split English muffin and toppped with Hollandaise sauce, served with a side of hashbrowns seasoned with garlic and onion. The hashbrowns were seasoned and cooked well. There was a pleasing amount of crab meat in the crabcakes and they had a good flavor, but they were a bit too moist for my liking. I think a bit more crunchy texture would have been good.  Over all, I would definitely eat here again given the chance.  I did get the chance to recommend the Donut Hole to some friends who also visited the Gulf Coast area. They were pleased with the donut selection.

vcrab

 

(Jared) I grew up not loving Florida.  All I knew about Florida was negative things that I learned from the hilariously sad Florida Man meme.  Brent wanted to make Florida better for me.  I feel incredibly honored to be invited on this lovely vacation.

Due to the weekly breakfast obsession that Brent and I have developed it was not terribly difficult to talk the Morgan’s into going out for breakfast at least once during the trip.  Thankfully I was blessed with not one but two breakfast stops.  Once you have everyone on the trip trained to spot and announce possible breakfast spots, you will have a much happier life.  The wives went to grab groceries and not only came back with food for the week but also a strong contender for a Panclog spot.

That spot turned out to be The Donut Hole. The Donut Hole was at the end of 30A, the scenic highway that connects the beach peninsula to the regular old panhandle highways. We decided to walk to breakfast. It was about a 20ish minute walk. This was such a lovely walk in the morning. It was not too hot, nor too cold.  This walk allowed me to make the mistake that I have made countless times. Which mistake? The one where I say that since I “exercised” I can eat everyone’s leftovers.  Someone once wrote “Never Change” in my yearbook.  I won’t change, Vaughn! No Worries!

The Donut Hole was an adorable vacationers get-away.  They had all of the fun things that families can do while waiting for a table to open up. They had cornhole and an outdoor ping-pong table.  I will say because we went on a Wednesday before 9 AM there was no wait. When walking in, you are allowed to order donuts and pies and leave or you are invited to sit and order from a full-order kitchen. We chose the latter.  They had a pretty standard menu for a breakfast joint but with a couple regional specialties, of course.

I got the Texas Sweet Potato Pancakes and coffee.

donut pancake
The Sweet Potato Pancakes came with a pecan-molasses-brown sugar sauce. You would think that these pancakes would come out more orange-y.  I thought that too.  These cakes seemed to only have the sub-flavor of sweet potatoes.  This was somewhat a let down.  I expected something with a fuller darker flavor.  The sauce was a good accent to the pancake symphony.   The sauce was neither too sweet nor rich.  It was a good median.  It was a good substitute to syrup.  The cakes were $7.95.  This is good pricing for a tourism town that tends to steal money with the traditional Disney World pricing.

Grades:
Brent: Overall, The Donut Hole earns 3.5 stars out of five.
Jared: I would give this shop a C++! Pretty cool, right, my coders?
The second eatery we singled out for breakfast caught us both out of the corner of our eye. We were headed back to the rental and passed by a strip mall. Proudly situated in the middle of that strip mall sat an aptly named restaurant called, The Pancakery. Plans to try this place immediately occurred upon its discovery.

pancakery

It is probably painfully obvious given the name, but in case you missed it, this place specializes in pancakes. The menu is loaded with many different kinds of cakes, toppings, syrups, jellies, and anything else you can imagine placing on a pancake. In my case, I elected to go with The Big Apple Pancakes.

pancake

The picture does not quite do it justice, but the pancakes are huge. Which inspires the following dialog:
DINER: How big are your pancakes?
SERVER: Umm, if you look at the table over there you will get an idea.
DINER: Good grief, those are bigger than the tires on my Camry. If you finish the cake, do you win a contest?
SERVER: Would you prefer the contest flapjack? It is the size of a tablecloth; but if you finish it in ten minutes, the meal is free.
DINER: I think I will pass.
This may be sacrilegious to some of our readers, but I believe that the size of pancakes is getting out of hand. Is it truly necessary to have a pancake so large that you could paper a wall with it? Gone are the days of a 3 to 4 stack of 6-inch diameter flapjacks. A stack of cakes requires more skill and closer involvement with your breakfast to ensure even butter distribution along with the pancakes’ other accouterments. Finishing a stack, leads to greater satisfaction and feelings of accomplishment. I implore breakfast eateries to pursue a vertical presentation rather than a horizontal one.
Another consequence of oversized pancakes is that to serve a normal breakfast of pancakes, eggs, and bacon or sausage, requires a multitude of plates. It seems that most breakfast places want to serve each individual item on its own plate. “I’m feeling a bit peckish today, so I will have the 9-plate special.” I tend to lose sight of my breakfast buddies behind a mountain of dishes when the meal is served.
The pancakes at The Pancakery are quite tasty; however, they feel a bit dense. The flapjacks could use some additional leavening agents to pump some air in them. My preference is to have a cake that is lighter and fluffier, one that bonds with the butter and toppings better. It might be my imagination but I thought I caught a slight hint of vanilla in the batter, which added a nice dimension to the dish.
As noted before I had the Big Apple Pancakes, which came with apples on top. It normally comes with whipped cream as well, but I opted to forego that this time. Sadly, the apple topping was a disappointment, as it tasted like prepackaged apple pie filling. Which I like, but I was hoping it would have been fresh apples sautéed in butter with cinnamon and sugar. I would certainly order this item again but I will feel slightly wanting.
Like The Donut Hole, The Pancakery easily enters the regular rotation of eateries if it happened to be closer to home. My next time I am driving along highway 30A I will be sure to stop by.

(Jared) The Pancakery is one of many well named breakfast spots that I have had come across on my various vacations.  The first being The Pancake Man in Cape Cod, MA, Wildberry Pancakes in Chicago, IL, International House of Pancakes in everywhere, USA, and the most recent being The Pancakery. I think a clever name is one of the most important parts of having a successful breakfast destination. The Pancakery first opened in Destin, FL and then heard that the Morgan-Sova clan was visiting Florida.  This caused them to hurry up and open a Pancakery closer to where we were staying.  The Panama City Beach location was open less than 2 months when we visited.

Check out their breakfast menu and feel the special part of your stomach that was built for breakfast start to growl.  I decided to enjoy The Destinite.  This pancake platter was declared as their favorite combination of strawberries, bananas, and chocolate.  They also advertised that it was cooked into the cakes.  I think that last statement is the most important in terms of wow-ing or disappointing me.
pcake

Check those cakes out.  Oh you are distracted by me? Sorry let me fix that.
fl

Look at that messy yet artful meal.  After my first bite, I realized that the menu was not lying. The Pancakery took the small but vital step of tossing some of the toppings into the batter when cooking these flapjacks up.  It is so impressive when a breakfast spot doesn’t simply throw a some blueberries on the top of pancakes and calls them “Blueberry Pancakes.” Sorry that isn’t a blueberry pancake. That would be a pancake with blueberries.  Yeah I take my pancakes and the naming of their dishes very serious.

I would agree with my fellow pancloggers that these cakes are very thick.  It was pretty interesting that butter was not brought out for any of the cakes on the table, it was only offered.  Not complaining, only noting. I will also say that I am not the biggest chocolate fan.  I still ate well more of the cakes than I should have. But the chocolate chips overwhelm the strawberries and bananas.

These cakes were delicious. I would recommend bringing a friend and splitting this pancake platter.  Oh my goodness. How great of a first date idea is this? Answer: Perfect date plan.  Bring a pretty person and share some delicious pancakes with them.  If they don’t like pancakes, just walk out.

We enjoyed The Pancakery on our way out of town.  I may not suggest eating huge pancakes before driving 8 hours. But, I would absolutely try all of The Pancakery’s pancake varieties if I lived near either location.

(Vesta) This is Brent’s wife again…As you have been told by now, the second restaurant we visited was the Pancakery. This was a new establishment, which opened March 2nd of this year.  Pancakes were certainly the focus of this place, with many options for toppings or inclusions. Omelettes were on the menu if pancakes aren’t you thing.

I ordered the Healthy Choice pancakes. These were whole grain cakes with fresh strawberries and blueberries cooked in the cakes and fresh berries served on top. They were tasty, but VERY large. They did have a variety of sizes of pancakes, but all were large–the order of sand dollar pancakes included 6 cakes about 7″ in diameter. You should not be hungry when you leave this place. The coffee was so-so, and the wait staff
could have done a better job of stopping by for refills, but all in all, it was a decent place.

vcake

An interesting observation we made while visiting, you’ll probably need to ask for a spoon.

One thing you should note–the Pancakery is across the street from David’s sno-ball (New Orleans style sno-balls) I recommend going here if you have the chance and ordering a stuffed sno-ball. These are like the traditional snow cones, but they have your choice of soft serve ice cream inside, a tasty adaptation.

Grades:
Brent: The Pancakery – 3.25 stars out of five. Like The Donut Hole, we did not feel compelled to get the shirt.
Jared: I am giving The Pancakery a grade of B.  Not amazing, but definitely in the rotation when in the panhandle of Florida.

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