Karen Moline worships at the International House of Pancakes in New York, and wonders why it took IHOP (as locals call it) so long to arrive.

Do not try this at home.

When my three sisters are I were little, we spent every summer enduring the 457-mile drive in our clunky station wagon from the suburbs of Buffalo, New York to Chicago, where most of our relatives still lived. Sure, this was a scenic jaunt through the rolling hills of Midwestern farmland, but it was also a crashing “Are we there yet” bore in those long-gone days of no seat belts, no air-conditioning, no iPads, and no relief from the steamy weather and siblings as cranky and cramped as moi.

I still remember the happy moments when we saw the billboard for blessed relief—otherwise known as the International House of Pancakes, or IHOP for short. Oh, the joy of stretching your legs and strolling into the cool interior, where there were flavored syrups waiting for us on the table (boysenberry was the best) and seemingly endless choices on the vast menu. I usually ordered chocolate chip pancakes and was never disappointed. Those visits to IHOP became an indelible memory for me, as they did for countless other young Yanks who hit the highways, back when petrol cost a whopping ten cents/gallon. (No, that is not a typo!)

So when I saw that IHOP had just arrived in NYC—on a stretch of 14th St. that used to be a haven for junkies but is now a short stroll from super-trendy Union Square—I told my son all about my summertime pancake-scarfing and off we went. As I also wrote about Twitter Truck cuisine in The Holiday Goddess Handbag Guide to Paris, London, New York and Rome, I was ready for more food reviews…

Let me just say that the boysenberry syrup is still delicious; the servers are incredibly nice; the booths are comfortable; and it took so long for our pancakes to arrive that the manager very generously comped us when I informed him that waiting 32 minutes for a meal that should take about 3 minutes on the grill was tantamount to an Out of Business sign getting hung in the window.

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My son was as impressed with my polite admonition as he was with his Cinn-a-Stack pancakes, which were pretty yummy and would have been even yummier if they hadn’t been stone cold. Not surprisingly, though, there weren’t many other locals in there, because everyone else was waiting…and waiting… patiently for their food. Tourists just can’t manage the New Yorker’s skillful mastery of the insta-gripe (or insta-walk-out) when things go south.

If you’re visiting the Union Square area, however, give IHOP a chance to get their kitchen up to speed and go ahead and enjoy the pancakes, because you will be getting the full-on off-the-American-highway experience in the middle of the city. Just be warned that the prices are on the high side for breakfast, especially when there are so many diners nearby that aren’t franchises of a national chain (there are over 1,500 IHOPS across America). And, worse, the calorie count is on the menu, so you can fall on the floor in shock when you see that the Harvest Grain ‘N Nut Pancakes are 920 calories (before syrup), the chocolate chip pancakes are 720 calories, the Chicken and Spinach Salad is 1,600 calories, and the Appetizer Sampler is 1,780 calories (the equivalent of your daily recommended intake). It’s enough to send you a block away to my all-time favorite diner, Little Poland, for an egg-white omelette, homefries, and freshly baked challah that will arrive piping hot on your table in about four minutes. Or right to the gym.

IHOP                          

235-237 14th St., between Second and Third Avenues. It’s open 24 hours, which is quite handy should you need a bite after hitting the clubs.

Little Poland              

200 Second Ave, between 12th and 13th Streets. When in doubt, get the pierogies and the borscht.  

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