We took the little tackers to Darling Harbour on the weekend - although I find most of it to be a disgusting tourist trap, there's a few things there that the kids love to visit. So we indulged them.
After a couple of hours of running around, it was time to get fed. We settled on a place to eat via the simple method of walking in and sitting down at the closest establishment - when you've got hungry kids, that's usually the simplest way of cutting short the whinging.
Once we were seated, we discovered that we were in a pancake house. I guess it's been 30 years since I've been into one of them - I tried them in Perth once as a teenager, and never went back for seconds. Having been taught how to make pancake batter at an early age, and entrusted with the frying pan and shown how to flip them by age 10 (as in throwing them up in the air by flicking the pan and catching them), the stuff they serve up in these pancake barns just doesn't do it for me. I find them to be too much cake and not enough pan - if you get what I mean. I don't like them as thin as crepes, but I like them thinner than pikelets. You have to be able to roll them up and eat them with your hands, which means they have to be thick enough to avoid tearing.
Enough of that.
We settled on two types of pancakes for the kids, and the adults selected a filled crepe and beef ribs (no guessing who had the ribs).
The crepe was good, but the filling was only just warm. It seemed to vanish pretty quickly though.
I got a large slab of beef ribs. They had the texture of being cooked slowly in a steam oven the day before (something I can't stand - the meat ends up with the consistency of jelly), and the sauce appeared to have been painted on at the last minute. As a stomach filler, I have few complaints. However, they were far from the best ribs I've ever had. "Salad" consisted of one baby tomato chopped in half and two lettuce leaves, drizzled with a bit of dressing. The chunky chips were not bad.
The pancakes were what I expected - thick and cakey. You know that awful cake mix in a box you can buy at the supermarket? They reminded me of that stuff. We ordered 4 pancakes and between the 4 of us, we could barely finish 3. It was not the size that stopped us - it was the texture. They're edible if you drown them in sauce or icecream. However, they refuse to slide down your gullet unless they are smothered in some sort of lubricating liquid.
Having watched the place in action, I can understand why the above was so. The restaurant seated a lot of people, and there must have been 20 more in the queue outside when we left. Turnover was ferocious. The kitchen was turning out meals like McDonalds turns out hamburgers. It was not the sort of place where you get hand cut fries and freshly made sauce. Oddly enough, it was very popular with Japanese students.
The bill was just over $70. It just served to reinforce my prejudices about Darling Harbour - crowds, bad food and expensive. We should have walked up the road to one of the pubs for lunch.