The Original Pancake House, a popular breakfast restaurant in Champaign, originated in Portland, Oregon in the 1950’s. With restaurants in twenty-seven different states, the Original Pancake House is popular all throughout the country. Le Peep, another well-known breakfast place in Champaign, is a smaller chain restaurant, with franchises in only thirteen states. Comparing factors of both food and atmosphere, I determined which restaurant was better.
Pancakes are a staple of any breakfast restaurant. The Original Pancake House gave me six palm-sized pancakes (called Dollar Pancakes on the menu) for $4.00, not including tax, which I considered to be a reasonable price. The pancakes themselves had a very pleasant vanilla flavor, with a light yeasty aftertaste that was easy on the palate. However, the texture of the pancakes left something to be desired. They were slightly dense and chewy, lacking the light and airy texture that is usually associated with great pancakes. Overall, they were slightly better than average, but definitely had room to improve.
At Le Peep, the pancakes proved to be much better. Although the short stack they offer only came with 2 pancakes, they were large and definitely worth $4.75. The pancakes were light and airy, with a delicious hint of vanilla. The texture also proved to be much better; although it may be due to the larger size, the pancakes at Le Peep were much fluffier and softer. The accompanying whipped butter added a nice saltiness to the subtle sweetness of the pancakes. Overall, the pancakes at Le Peep were delicious and is a must try for all pancake lovers.
French toast is another iconic breakfast food. At the Original Pancake House, they offer three pieces of iPad Mini-sized sourdough French toast for $6.95 – again, a reasonable price. However, the French toast itself was rather disappointing. The flavor was eggy and bland and not even the powdered sugar could compensate for its lack of flavor. The choice of sourdough as the bread for the French toast was questionable, and it was not until a sufficient amount of maple syrup was added that the French toast gained some flavor.Once the syrup was on the French toast, the slight sourness of the bread helped by adding a nice balance to the sweetness.
The French toast at Le Peep also held better reviews. I ordered the half portion, which came with 2 pieces of French toast along with 2 strips of bacon, for $3.75. It also came with the salted butter on top, which I was not a big fan of. Putting the butter on top of the French toast forced me to use the butter, which I didn’t really feel was necessary for the French toast. However, the French toast had a light cinnamon flavor, which accentuated the sweetness and flavor. It was just the right amount of sweet, needing no syrup.It was also cooked very well, both sides of the French toast a light golden color.
The atmosphere and service at The Original Pancake House was better than the actual quality of the food. When I went there to eat, there was a line for a table that took about 15 minutes to get through. However, even with the wait, the servers were patient with every customer, something that could have been difficult due to the sheer number of people that were there. The atmosphere of The Original Pancake House was very welcoming and homey, with a classic old-fashioned look, complete with a fireplace and lamp-like lights. The Original Pancake House is also on the larger size, therefore louder and having a more evident social environment. Going to the Original Pancake House would be ideal with a larger group of people, as there is more space. In terms of time, the Original Pancake House took 13 minutes from the time of my order for my food to arrive to the table.
The environment and service at Le Peep was also very good. I waited around the same time at both restaurants and found both places to be very patient and kind with all of their customers. The eating environment at Le Peep is very similar to The Original Pancake House; it has a very old-fashioned, homey style decorations from the tablecloths to the big heavy wooden double doors. The atmosphere at Le Peep is a bit more intimate than The Original Pancake House, serving less people in a smaller area. It is quieter and easier to talk; however, spacing can get a little bit crowded with a group larger than six people. The time it took for the food to come out from Le Peep was around 9 minutes.
Strictly in terms of food, I would rate Le Peep higher than The Original Pancake House. The time it took for the food to come out, even with the fact that both locations were extremely crowded when I went, was shorter at Le Peep. However, The Original Pancake House offers a larger place where people can go to socialize and enjoy some comfort food, even if the food is not necessarily the best in town. With a crowd larger than six, it is recommended to go to The Original Pancake House; for a more intimate close conversation style location with some good food, Le Peep would be the place to go.