IHOP

Food: () Predictable meals are highlighted by breakfast pancakes.

Service: () Staff did better with dinner than with the predictable morning rush.

Atmosphere: () Well-lit and spacious, with four dining rooms, but lacking in decor.

More Info

Location: 30 NE Bend River Mall Drive at NE Third Street, Bend

Hours: 6 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday to Thursday, 6 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday

Cuisine: American

Price range: Breakfast combos $9.59 to $16.89, pancakes $5.49 to $9.39; lunch/dinner burgers and sandwiches $9.29 to $11.79, entrees $10.99 to $15.99

Credit cards: American Express, Discover, Mastercard, Visa

Kids’ menu: More than a dozen discounted items; children’s meals are free with an adult meal from 4 to 10 p.m.

Vegetarian and gluten-free menu: Garden omelets and fruity pancakes — although those pancakes are not gluten-free

Alcoholic beverages: No

Outdoor seating: No

Reservations: Large private parties only

Contact: ihop.com, 541-317-9812

For more area restaurant reviews, visit www.bend bulletin.com/restaurants

I’m no Grinch — at least, I hope I’m not. But the thought of dining on green pancakes is as appealing to me as, well, green eggs and ham.

Inspired by Dr. Seuss’ parsimonious Grinch character, IHOP’s seasonal menu will keep lime-hued flapjacks bursting from the kitchen through the end of 2018 (along with green, sweet-cream icing and minty Who-hot chocolate), or until supplies run out.

It’s a popular promotion at more than 1,800 IHOP restaurants across North America and around the world, and typical of a restaurant that specializes in family dining.

Founded in 1958 (in Burbank, California) as the International House of Pancakes, IHOP draws its biggest crowds for breakfast, served daily from 6 a.m.

But evening dining is also encouraged. Indeed, child-sized meals are served free every day from 4 to 10 p.m., so long as they are accompanied by an adult meal order.

Lest the family mood be disturbed, no alcohol is served at IHOP. Soft drinks, iced tea and coffee are the norms.

National franchise

Unlike most local restaurants, however, IHOP lists calorie counts on its breakfast, lunch and dinner menus. I haven’t decided if this is a blessing or a curse: Do I really WANT to know what I’m consuming in those double blueberry pancakes (800 calories)? Sigh. I’m sure it’s a great thing for dedicated dieters.

Bend’s IHOP is on the north side, within the Shopko complex on Bend River Mall Drive. In atmosphere and menu, it is very much the same as nine other IHOP restaurants between Springfield and Vancouver, Washington, within a short drive of the Interstate-5 corridor. Well-lit and spacious, it boasts four dining rooms that seat more than 170 guests at one time. Framed corporate memorabilia hang on some of the otherwise-unadorned walls.

In my recent experience, service was inversely related to the size of staff on duty. When I came for dinner, a single server (who said she was 20) tended as many as eight tables and as many as two dozen diners with hardly a hitch. But on a breakfast visit, a team of several servers struggled with timeliness and efficiency in presenting morning meals to a similar number of diners — although, in the staff’s defense, most of these tables were seated within a few short minutes of one another.

Breakfast

All IHOP guests — morning, noon or night — are greeted at their table with a pitcher of coffee and a choice of four syrups (maple, butter pecan and two berry options). We were glad for the morning coffee, but I would have preferred a stronger brew.

My dining companion ordered a Smokehouse Combo ($10.89), a simple breakfast of two eggs (over easy) with excellent hash browns and a pair of smoked sausage links, butterflied. Two buttermilk pancakes (prepared, for an extra $1.99, with slices of banana cooked in) were fluffy but fell apart to the touch of her fork. They were served with whipped cream, but my friend had to chase down a server for butter.

I was pleased with my generous Spinach and Mushroom Omelet ($11.99). Thinly sliced mushrooms were rolled inside a crêpe-thin egg batter, then layered with fresh spinach, chopped onions and Swiss cheese. Except for a not-very-lemony Hollandaise sauce that thickly coated the eggs (but which was easily scraped off), this was a good choice, right down to the chopped-tomato garnish.

Given a choice of accompaniment — hash browns, toast, seasonal fruit or three buttermilk pancakes — I paid an additional $1.99 for Swedish crêpes. And I was glad I did. The properly thin cakes were twice folded and topped with delicious Scandinavian lingonberries and a lingon butter.

Evening

I returned alone for dinner when the highlight was the excellent service and a medley of Christmas instrumentals that played on a background track. Otherwise, the best part of my meal was a bowl-sized “cup” of house-made chicken-noodle soup.

Besides the white breast meat and thick egg noodles, the slightly peppery potage featured carrots, celery, onions and fresh herbs.

My entree choice was chicken-fried steak. Had I ordered the 55-plus portion for $10.79, my soup would have cost me $1.99. By requesting the regular menu version ($13.39), I paid only 70 cents more for a full meal deal.

And it was a decent portion, even if there was nothing at all outstanding about the meat or the white country gravy that cloaked it. And my choice of broccoli buds as an accompanying green was cooked with an al dente touch.

But a hearty helping of mashed potatoes was not even warm enough to melt butter. I state this as fact: The pat of butter I placed on top sat like a wax model until I pointed out the problem to my server.

She credited me with 10 percent off my bill.

— John Gottberg Anderson can be reached janderson@bendbulletin.com .

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