Sometimes touristy restaurants are famous simply because everyone goes there, and sometimes they're famous because they happen to be really good (and everyone goes there).
Pancake Bakery in Amsterdam is one of the culinary treats that fits into the latter category. Tucked into a small house along a canal on the edge of Jordan, the Pancake Bakery is stuffed to the gills from its opening at noon right through closing.
You'll be hard pressed to hear any Dutch being spoken though, as the long wooden tables are mostly occupied by Americans. In fact, on my second trip there (they have both savory and sweet pancakes, I wanted to sample both) I was unaccompanied by Abigail as she was busy getting rid of her bout of food poisoning) and I was seated at the table with two Americans who actually live about twenty miles from my house, who lived in Teaneck, NJ (where I went to school), and found that the wife, Patty, works for Eileen Fisher, who has a boutique store in my town.
The Pancake Bakery is dark, constructed of heavy wood and has the ubiquitous "hang odd objects from the walls to feel homey" decor that seems common in Amsterdam. They also have a fresh orange juice squeezer that takes whole oranges and spits out glasses of fresh pressed nectar.
The interior is often smokey, a result of the massive barrage of pancakes being kicked out by the small kitchen. The dough is poured into massive cast iron skillets (think of skillets the size of a medium Domino's pizza) where it's heated while ingredients are added.
On my first trip there, recovering from my bout of tourista I decided to go sweet and had the "English" pancake which is smothered with pears, ice cream, chocolate syrup and whipped cream. My second trip I went savory and had the "Greecian" which was with lamb, onions and a mild curry based sauce, along with a side salad.
The pancakes are not exactly what Americans would consider typical, which is fine with me as I hate our version of pancakes. The dense, moist and elastic plate-fillers are more like Ethiopian bread though less spongey, and nicely hold the condiments.
On the tables are massive pots filled with a molasses-based syrup and a ladle, though "American" syrup is also available. (There are not a lot of Vermont maple trees in Amsterdam, it seems.)
Because of the quick-fire nature of the cooking the pancakes can come off a bit overcooked (hence the smoke in the establishment) which can slightly overwhelm a sweet pancake but nicely complements the savory variety.
There are dozens of variety of pancakes, with everything from bananas to bacon (in fact my table-mate had one with both ingredients, though I can't imagine how that could possibly have been good) and there are also a variety of massive omelette to choose from as well.
Several similar establishments dot the landscape in Amsterdam, but this one seems the most authentic and the least filled with stoned college students, both of which are big plusses.
Arrive just a bit before noon to ensure a table, or be ready to stand and wait for quite some time. Our first trip there saw lines running out the door and that never dropped below a good eight people waiting at a time.