Sunday 21 April 2013

The worst ribs ever - in the entire universe even

My food intake spans the entire spectrum from bad to good. After spending years surviving on boarding school food, uni college food and army ration packs, I'm really not that fussy about what I'm eating when I need to eat. If I'm hungry, I'll shovel down whatever is on offer. Except maybe the sheep's eyeball. Unless it comes with a tasty sauce on the side.

On the other hand, when I have a bit of time and money to spare, I like to eat as well as I possibly can. That's when the food snob side takes over. I don't see the point in eating a bad meal if you have the means to eat a good meal.

Which brings me to Pancake Parlor. We've eaten there twice in the last 6 months - mainly because the kids needed feeding when we were on an outing and it was there. And OK, I needed feeding too. It serves up the sort of bland, sweet, filling food that will tempt kids in the 4-18 age bracket to actually eat when you want them to eat.

I'm not going to fault the pancakes - they are "pan cakes". If you like that sort of thing (and clearly the Japanese students living within walking distance of Darling Harbour really like that sort of thing), then they do it quite well. Big, fat bland cakes that have been cooked in a pan and then smothered with cheap cream, icecream or syrup. Or all three. They are definitely not my thing - I prefer a thin crepe that can be rolled up and shoveled down like a cheap, fat cigar.

That's not a very good analogy, but it's early on Sunday morning, so it will have to do.

As an aside, Mum bought a crepe pan back in the late 1970s. It was electric, and it had a convex non stick surface that was perfect for making crepes. You made a bowl of crepe mix (which is thinner than pancake mix) and then dipped  the upside down crepe maker into the mix. It was the height of sophistication back then. It's pretty clear where my food snobbery comes from. It was fun as a young kid to make the crepes, and then flame them in a good glug of brandy. My parents have always enjoyed sloshing alcohol onto things and then letting the kids set it on fire. So long as the kids didn't get splashed with brandy and also get set on fire, everything was fine. My parents still do it whenever kids and dessert are in the same room. Dad would set fire to apple pie if you let him.

So I'm a crepe guy, not a big fat pancake guy. But the kids don't mind the pancakes, so we've eaten there twice.

On both occasions, I've had the ribs. The ribs are expensive at $26, and for that price, I expect pretty good ribs. I also can't take pancakes for lunch. It's just wrong.

Pretty good ribs are exactly what I didn't get. I tried the beef ribs the first time round - they were adequately cooked, but not falling off the bone, and the sauce appeared to have been painted on at the last minute. They were edible, but overpriced and underspiced. I can understand the lack of kick - the demographic they are serving are probably not interested in a really spicy set of ribs.

Second time around, I went for pig. I had much the same experience, expect the ribs were served cold. Not frozen. Not fridge temperature. Just "I've been sitting on the bench for 3 hours" cold. There was not a hint of warmth in a single rib of that pig.

Under normal circumstances, I would have sent them back for a bit of nuking. However, I gave the staff one look (The fish that John West rejected was the first thing that came to mind) and decided I'd just grin and bear it. After all, they weren't that good to start with, so eating them cold wasn't going to make them much worse.

And you know what? That was pretty much correct. The youngest has just walked over with a toy bucket and told me that it's his chum bucket. Thanks to that happening, the Pancake Parlor and the Chum Bucket are now firmly fixed in my mind as twins. By the way, read down at the link to see what chum is made of.

The sad thing is that we will inevitably eat there again, and I'll eat the ribs - again. I'm a sucker for punishment.

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