Soft, thick pancakes flavored with lemon ricotta: It's a rarity, but a couple of Phoenix favorites deliver the goods for breakfast. Ollie Vaughn's and Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails each serve a rendition of the sweet and sour take on the American breakfast favorite.
In This Corner: Ollie Vaughn's
The Setting: Stepping into Ollie Vaughn's is euphoric. The quaint bakery and cafe is an escape from the hustle and bustle of the city, and its sandwich menu gives some of our favorites a little extra TLC, like the tuna sandwich with tuna salad, carrots, green chiles, cilantro, jalapeño marmalade, and manchego. Don't forget the bakery case, which catches your eye upon entering the cafe. Muffins, lemon bars, quiche, pies, and granola are enticing.
The Good: Three medium pancakes come on a plate with a side of fresh fruit and syrup. Look closely and you'll find poppy seeds sprinkled throughout the pancakes. The interior is soft and almost creamy, thanks to the ricotta. Ollie Vaughn's has delicious lemon bars, which met our expectation for a bold lemon flavor -- the perfect balance of sweet and sour.
The Bad: We slathered on syrup but quickly regretted the decision because the pancakes already had a mushy texture, and the syrup seemed to drown them. We would have liked more poppy seeds, which could've given the cakes a well-rounded texture.
In The Other Corner: Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails
The Setting: The restaurant is situated on the second floor of the Hotel Palomar. Perch at the wooden bar and enjoy a few cocktails or sit in the dining area with windows that overlook CityScape and take in the view. Blue Hound's gastro-pub menu puts flair into American favorites. Try the deviled eggs with smoked ham and Dijon, or the French toast with brioche, blackberries, yuzu curd, and whipped mascarpone.
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The Good: Fresh blueberries dressed the top of an unexpectedly high stack of pancakes. They had a thick and fluffy look to them that didn't disappoint. The exterior had a subtle but welcomed crisp that balanced out the creamy ricotta inside. A burst of lemon came with each bite. Again, the pairing of pancake with fresh fruit was welcomed, and the blueberries softened the lemon flavor a bit.
The Bad: We were left scratching our heads because we couldn't find anything wrong with the lemon ricotta pancakes. All the elements created balance.
The Winner: Blue Hound Kitchen & Cocktails is the winner in the lemon ricotta pancake battle. Even though we loved the lemon flavor and poppy seeds in Ollie Vaughn's, the texture fell through for us. Blue Hound was well played and all elements were considered when creating these pancakes.