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In The Mood: Pancakes

March 06, 1997

Flapjacks, griddle cakes, crepes; big as dinner plates or dollar-sized, pancakes hit the spot like nothing else--except, perhaps, that nap you take after a pancake breakfast.

* Marstons: In a small house near Old Pasadena, some of the best pancakes in Southern California are griddled Monday through Saturday mornings. Using a thin, very light buttermilk batter, the chef here will make you a stack of sublime plain pancakes, if you insist. But why not treat yourself to blueberry pancakes made with fresh Oregon berries, or the macadamia pancakes with fresh chopped macadamias both in the batter and strewn over the top? There is also a profound seven-grain pancake topped with seasonal fresh fruit, usually bananas and strawberries, sometimes raspberries. Prices range from $4.75 for blueberry pancakes to $7.95 for the seven-grainers. Marston's, 151 E. Walnut St., Pasadena, (818) 796-2459.

* Konditori: Pasadena's venerable and charming Scandinavian coffee shop sends out utterly irresistible Swedish pancakes; thin, eggy and dollar-sized, they come seven to an order with butter and syrup and, best of all, lingonberry jam. (I've witnessed otherwise circumspect eaters sail through two orders without blinking.) Pancakes only are $2.95; the Konditori Special, with pancakes, egg and a choice of ham or bacon is $4.75. Konditori, 230 S. Lake Ave., Pasadena, (818) 792-6600.

* The Backdoor: This small, neighborhood sidewalk bakery in Silver Lake has a bustling weekend breakfast crowd thanks, largely, to its Giant Fruit Pancake, a thick, tasty German-Dutch-style cake that's started in a skillet, baked until puffy and crusty in the oven, then finally filled, folded over and topped with pan-glazed fruit. Some days, the hot fruit is just bananas or apple, but you can occasionally hit the jackpot with mixed fresh berries. Such gratification is not immediate: These pancakes take a minimum of 10 minutes and, on busy mornings, up to half an hour. Served with additional butter and syrup. $5.50. The Backdoor, 1710 Silver Lake Blvd., Los Angeles, (213) 662-7927.

* Kokomo Cafe: Some like 'em hefty--thick, dense, stick-to-your-rib cakes. For pancakes to reckon with, head for the semi-open-air Kokomo Cafe in the Farmers Market where you can choose from cranberry-orange, banana-pecan, and Swiss cheese pancakes, not to mention the oddly named oat, cornmeal and wheat journey (as in take a journey) cakes. Served with real maple syrup, pancakes are priced from $3.75 to $4.75. Kokomo Cafe, Farmers Market, 6333 W. 3rd St., Los Angeles, (213) 933-0773.

* Rockenwagner: Available at brunch on Saturday and Sundays only, Hans Rockenwagner's thick-but-airy oven-baked German apple pancake is buttery, crusty, not too sweet and impossible to forget. Top it with creme frai^che and--if you must--butter. A glorious memory for $7.50. Rockenwagner, 2435 Main St., Santa Monica, (310) 399-6504.

* Uncle Bill's Pancake House: The pancake possibilities at Manhattan Beach's favorite breakfast spot are downright encyclopedic: Choose--if you can--from buttermilk, buckwheat, multigrain, blueberry, blueberry-buckwheat, chocolate chip, strawberry, cinnamon-apple, banana-nut, banana-nut buckwheat and macadamia nut pancakes. Prices range from $2.75 to $3.75 for short stacks (two), $3.75 to $4.75 for full stacks (four). Boysenberry and maple-flavored syrups come with every order; real maple syrup is $1 extra. Pancakes can be also substituted for toast or muffins on all breakfasts. Jocks mustn't miss the Body Builder Power Breakfast with four banana-nut buckwheat pancakes and five scrambled egg whites for $7.25. Be forewarned, though: Weekend breakfasts at Uncle Bill's can involve long waits. Uncle Bill's Pancake House, 1305 Highland Ave., Manhattan Beach, (310) 545-5177.

* Duke's: Sometimes, you just want pancakes at a coffee shop. So why not the excellent, fresh fruit-studded cakes--banana, apple or berry--at Dukes? At $5.50 a plateful, they're served with butter and syrup all day long. Dukes, 8909 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood, (310) 652-3100.

* Musso and Frank: It's anybody's guess why they're called flannel cakes, but the so-named flapjacks are a mainstay on the menu at Musso and Frank, Hollywood's noir bar 'n' grill. A cross between a French pancake and a crepe, flannel cakes are made with two kinds of flour and scented with vanilla. Round and light, they're very thin and crusty brown and flat as a you-know-what. Served three to an order with maple or boysenberry syrup until 3 in the afternoon for $4.50. Musso and Frank, 6667 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood, (231) 467-5123.

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