|Slappy Cakes Brief Review|
|Overall||Service||Food Quality||Atmosphere||Vegan Options|
|Location: 4246 SE Belmont St, Portland, OR 97215
|Hours: Everyday 8am-5pm||Times Visited: 2|
Another place to enjoy Portland’s favorite meal, with a theme – flip your own pancakes. Slappy Cakes is a new restaurant at SE 43rd and SE Belmont. The converted garage offers a large, open, brightly lit dining area, and ample seating with table top griddles. After settling in and thinking about the details, this reviewer thought, “I am glad I don’t have to bus the tables or clean the griddles. This could get messy!”
Diners are seated to clean, personal griddle tables with wooden stands covering hot surface. The heat is turned on, and the wait staff will remind you that this surface is in fact hot and there’s no need to touch it to find out.
The menu is typical of a full service diner – pancakes, home fries, omelets, scrambles, sides, and a vast alcoholic breakfast drink menu. Though not on the menu, they do offer tofu for their scrambles. Post 11am, sandwiches, salads, and soups are also offered. I’d be curious to know the percentage of visitors who eschew the personal griddle and sit at the bar, facing the open kitchen. These spots must be reserved for neighborhood locals when the novelty wears off.
On to the pancakes, because that is what Slappy Cakes is all about. There are three options, and only one vegan option – the whole wheat. For tabletop griddle dining you choose your batter plus one addition, all for $5. The additions range from chocolate chips , dried cherries, nuts, fancy apple sauces, and many more, vegan and non-vegan. Even if you do not enjoy add-ins to your pancakes, I suggest an addition anyway. A quarter cup of nuts or dried fruit will be nice snack while you wait for your pancakes to cook, which do take awhile.
The beautiful paintings on the wall show patrons how to make pancakes: pour the batter, add your additions, flip, and enjoy. On this review’s first visit I wished there was more guidance on making the pancakes. Not that I am new to pancakes, they are one of my most favorite breakfast dishes, but when the wait staff is busy, it can feel lonely staring at a blank hot griddle with a 16 ounce bottle of pancake batter. Never fear, The Stumptown Vegans are here for you. Here is our guide:
- Order 1-2 orders (2 if you’re really hungry) of whole wheat pancake batter, plus an addition.
- Cook the pancakes nearest the center of the griddle, it’s the hottest.
- Be patient, the vegan batter needs a bit longer to cook, and your griddle may require additional oil before the next pancake if it’s sticking.
- Pour normal shapes, round, to get the hang of using the squeeze bottle. Keep the cakes to about the size of your palm. Once this is mastered, move on on to fun shapes.
- Nuzzle the additions into the batter right after sprinkling it on top of the wet batter. Use your fork or your finger. This will help it cook faster. (Don’t try using the various syrups as an addition. This will make the griddle cleaner angry).
- Flip the pancakes only after you see lots of little bubbles rise to the top and pop, and the edges start to look a bit dried out. (Don’t be cute and try to flip the pancakes high into the air. This will make the person who has to clean the lamp shades angry).
- Watch closely because the second side will not take as long as the first. Gently use your spatula to poke under the cake after 1-2 minutes to see if it’s done. (This is where it would be great to have an hour glass).
- Keep making pancakes. As soon as you have your first group of cakes on your plate spread the batter for the remaining so they cook while you’re eating.
- Have fun! Slappy Cakes is about the experience. Try spelling out your name or drawing your cat’s face in pancake batter.
The vegan pancakes are a bit disappointing in the fluff and taste departments. The cakes lose their fluff after the flip and the taste gets by with the variety of syrups. However, I don’t think many people will visit Slappy Cakes for the food, but the experience. Each griddle has their own set of four syrups – maple, blueberry, marionberry, and cherry. Real maple syrup is available for an added cost of $1, but vegan butter is free, but it’s no Earth Balance.
Besides the pancakes there are not many vegan options – home fries, field roast sausage, and a quinoa salad. All of the menu items were on the small side compared to most other Portland diners. The home fries are quarter sized deep fried potato cubes topped with dried parsley and salt, served on a small plate. They taste more like French Fries than Home Fries because they were actually fried. Most tables do not come with personal ketchup bottles, so ask for ketchup if that’s your style. The Field Roast sausage is half of a normal sausage, cut in half and cooked until browned. Definitely moist and tender with a bit of crunch.
The Warm Mushroom and Root Vegetable Salad was simple and enjoyable. Chanterelle mushrooms, rutabaga, carrots, and quinoa mixed together on a small bed of salad greens for $7. The champagne dressing was mild and left me wanting more of a citrus flavor to company the tenderly cooked roots. While I was told this dish was vegan, I later learned that champagne is not typically vegan and do not know the amount of research Slappy Cakes has done to know one way or another.
The drink menu is full of fun drinks like an Orange Cream Cicle, A green bloody mary, called the Slappy Green, and the Slappy Screw, a normal screw driver rimmed with cinnamon and sugar. Beware, the Red Slappy uses anchovie ridden worstershire sauce and a bacon stiring stick. The Green Slappy on the other hand, is a weak tomatillo bloody mary. The green drink will turn heads with the usual drink color.
A few other things to note – if you require a lot of food to fill you up, order two sides and pancakes, or two orders of pancakes and one side. However, doing this will run you about $13 for breakfast. They are willing to substitute tofu for eggs in their scrambles, but it is not on the menu, just ask for it.
Slappy Cakes is very family friendly and I was surprised that kids making pancakes and pouring syrup wasn’t as messy as it could be. Also, diners are given plenty of room at each table to flip pancakes with ease and without fear of bumping into your neighbor. The wait staff are helpful, but very busy with the amount of tables, and families who frequent the restaurant.
If I was 10 I would beg my parents to take me here every weekend. Since I am not, I have a hard time dragging myself across town for a simple meal I can make myself, and better, in the comfort of my own home. If you’re into pancakes check out Hungry Tiger Too, Laurelthirst, or Jam. I will however, visit Slappy Cakes to meet out of town friends who want a fun Portland brunch dining atmosphere with a safe IHOP-like menu. And if you’ve got kids, take them here; this is one of the most kid friendly Portland brunch places I’ve been in awhile.
Warm Root Salad: