Anyone that has had breakfast with me knows that I’m a pancake aficionado. I’m very particular about my pancakes (they must have the right flavor, texture, crust, and toppings), and if I find a proper pancake I’ll go way out of my way for them.
Which brings us to Polly’s Pancake Parlor, where we went on Saturday. We make it a point to go at least once a year, usually combining it with hiking in the White Mountains.
Located in Sugar Hill, New Hampshire (about 20 minutes from Franconia Notch), Polly’s is a modestly-sized pancake dining room attached to an old sugarhouse (in which they make their own maple products). Sure, New Hampshire and Vermont, especially during mapling season, are chock full of sugarhouses and pancake joints. But, in my not-so-humble opinion, Polly’s is the queen of New England pancake joints, and forever tied for first place on my list with Al’s Breakfast of Minneapolis for Best Pancake Ever and Best Breakfast Ever.
Why? Simply because Polly’s does everything right for a breakfast. Perfect pancakes, excellent sides, good coffee, friendly service….
1. Pancakes. They do everything right, from allowing you to mix and match your batter (usually buttermilk, oatmeal, buckwheat, and whole wheat are available) and add-ins (usually blueberrys, walnuts, and chocolate chips), and they serve the pancakes to you in shifts of three so they are always fresh.
2. Maple products. The maple syrup at Polly’s is very good, and free-flowing. No little tiny cups of syrup here. Same with the maple spread and maple sugar (mmm, maple sugar in my coffee).
3. Sides. Both my bacon (from Claremont’s North Country Smokehouse) and potatoes (thin sliced and pan-fried in butter) were excellent, and the other available sides (such as baked beans) are top-notch as well
4. The environment: Polly’s has an excellent view of the White Mountains, and the restaurant itself is very friendly (if packed). The service is friendly, and, as an odd note, the servers are also the people that cook the pancakes.
Cons (no place is perfect):
1. I’m obviously not the only fanatic of this place. It’s usually very, very busy (it wasn’t this Saturday, however), and sometimes I’ve had to wait an hour to get seated.
2. It’s not the cheapest breakfast out there, all that maple syrup and top-notch bacon comes with a price tag. Carol and I average around $12/person when we go here, although we leave very full (they have an all-you-can eat option, but I’ve never been able to starve myself to the point that would be cost-effective). Still, at $12/meal, it’s at least twice as good as most $6 breakfasts out there.
3. The drive. By the fastest possible route, it’s at least an hour away from the Upper Valley. So you really do need to get up early and make a day of it by partaking of some of the other White Mountain attractions.
As I said, this place is good enough that I head up there at least once a season, if not twice. So I heartily recommend it. Best. Breakfast. Ever.