Circuit Court Sacramento
Corner of 21st and Broadway,
Open daily, 6AM - 10:15PM
Pancake Circus! You gotta love it for the name alone.
I've had my eye on
the Pancake Circus for months. The look of it -- old-school coffee shop
just off the freeway -- spoke to me. I wondered about its history -- how
long had it been here? Was it thriving or barely hanging on? It's impossible
to tell anything from outside, because the windows are lined with a reflective
material (decorated with seasonal messages such as "Father's Day!")
in an effort to keep out the penetrating rays of the brutal Sacramento
sun. Of course, it also serves to keep out the penetrating looks of would-be
patrons. The only way to know was to go. "Breakfast served all day."
Well, OK then!
If you are one of
those people unnerved by clown decor, you might want to pop a Paxil to
get yourself through the door and seated. Once you order and get your
food (allow a good 5 to 7 minutes for all that), the coma-inducing carbohydrate
loading will serve to sedate you. Most of the clown-themed art is near
the cash register, where the owner hangs out. He's had the place since
1970. He says his regulars often bring him clowns, and that he has many
more pieces at home. I have noticed this phenomenon elsewhere: Known clown
lovers tend to get inundated with clown-themed items. No one really believes
you if you say you like clowns. If you insist that, really, you DO, they
immediately unload an unwanted treasure on you (Circus-Circus ashtray,
embroidered "sad clown" pillow) in grateful relief. Personally,
I love the little fellas. It wasn't always that way, though. I underwent
a bit of a conversion around 1993 triggered by repeated viewings of Bobcat
Goldthwait's masterpiece, "Shakes the Clown." So now clowns
make me happy. They can make you happy, too -- you'll see.
walked into many a restaurant because of an alluring aroma, but the Pancake
Circus serves up a true sense-memory blast: I'd say it's equal parts Bunn-o-matic
coffee and butter-flavored syrup, with just a dash of grammar school cafeteria.
It's a medley of smells, all of them from some sepia-toned childhood that
I'm not even sure was mine. It's not necessarily a smell to make your
mouth water ñ it's more subtle than that. It works on the level
of the subconscious, in concert with the time-capsule quality of the whole
place, and to plunk yourself down in the womb-like vinyl booth only enhances
the effect. Oh, comforting booth! Nothing will harm you here. Order and
eat in peace and security. Feel benevolent and a little sleepy.
You are seated and
served coffee (it's not great, but for me, that just adds to the authentic
charm) within minutes. The menu presents many, many options. There are
numbered specials, like the one MKP ordered (#6: chicken fried steak and
eggs and four pancakes), and there are specials written on a dry erase
board by the door. There is a sub-menu which kids and persons over 60
may choose from (smaller appetites? fewer teeth?). There are "Circus
Specials." And then there is the substantial regular menu. The waitress
will be back in less than 30 seconds to take your order, but you can ask
for more time. They aren't trying to rush you, just give you the best
possible service, and many a harried parent has been grateful for this
speediness, I'm sure. Little Billy wants his waffle NOW!
Pretty much everything
comes with four pancakes, a delightful feature. The menu says that you
may have toast instead if you please, but, to my mind, this confers a
somewhat lowly status on the cakes, like they are just some utilitarian
breakfast accessory used for swabbing up yolks. No! These pancakes are
the main event. The best I've ever had, I can say it with confidence.
And, mind you, I'm particular about my pancakes -- there is a long list
of things I don't want them to be: too thick, too cakey, too brittle,
too pale, floury feeling in my mouth, not cooked in the middle, paltry
in size. I like a straightforward pancake with exquisite texture. And
I have found it.
ordered Apple Pancakes, wherein several cups of apple pie filling and
half a can of whipped cream are loaded onto a four-cake stack. Of course
it was great, but the sugar quotient was a bit high even for me. I will
order the plain cakes next time (which will be soon) so I can dwell further
in that salty-sweet netherland of butter + syrup. MKP's chicken fried
steak was delish, although no west coast chix frix stex will ever compare
to anything they serve in the South. I've been to Texas, I know what a
chicken fried steak can be. Another appealing item on the menu we didn't
have room for: four pieces of honey dipped fried chicken with bread, potato,
soup/salad, vegetable and dessert (Jell-O is available). Or, you can get
the Pork Chop: a 1/2 lb boneless pork loin with all of the above. It's
all very inexpensive ($15.35 for us). The service, as I've mentioned,
is speedy and friendly, and the advertisements decorating the table top
served as interesting distractions during the 90 seconds we were waiting
for our food, and also provide insight into the Pancake Circus clientele:
chiropractor, Tony "the tiger" bail bonds, van conversions,
Neptune society, discount appliances, barber shop.
I moved to Sacramento
a year ago, but I've only just found my home.
Magistrate Louise at email@example.com