With Shrove Tuesday just around the corner, I thought it apt to pay My Old Dutch a visit for a pancake fix.
Pancake Day. It’s funny how two words can take on a different meaning to people, depending on their backgrounds.
For me, it’s not limited to one day a year. Oh no, it’s associated with rain. Huge, heavy drops gushing from the sky that unapologetically hit the dry African soil hard, creating that one-of-a-kind earthy smell that is sometimes mistaken for a fart. A grey, wet and cold day is a novelty in Pretoria, where I grew up. A welcome break from the relentless sun and heat during summer months. Walking around in public you’ll soon pick up a whiff of cinnamon and sugar as coffee shops get cooking. I can’t help but wonder whether pancakes will cross Capetonians’ minds at all when the rain finally comes in. I won’t blame them if they forget, too busy toyi-toying in the streets in pure celebration.
Mention “Pancake Day” to a Brit and the person would get giddy with excitement, especially if it’s February. Old people would candidly tell me about lemon juice and sugar fillings, and young ones go on about Nutella. If the South African mentality was applied in the UK, everybody would look like pancakes, thanks to the sub par weather.
I can’t remember if it rained or not when we visited My Old Dutch. Thirteen years in and I’ve become oblivious to the weather and staunchly partial to travel destinations such as Tenerife. The kids and I were on our way to see Annie in the West End and this restaurant seemed to be a good stop to have a quick bite and create fond memories.
My hunch proved to be correct. The venue is unpretentious, family friendly and colourful. The Dutch colour theme of orange, white and blue runs through the restaurant, with big pom-poms hanging from the ceilings.
Fussy kids, i.e. mine, can make up their own pancakes (£6.25) with various toppings on offer, much like in the spirit of pizza. The food arrived lightning fast. The food presentation was slightly strange but then again there’s not much you can do with a limited amount of toppings and the kids definitely didn’t complain. The highlight for me was the savoury pancake with the Smoked Duck and Sweet Peppers filling drizzled with Hoisin Sauce (£12.50) filling. It arrived sprawled on a large plate and proved to be a humungous portion where the chefs definitely didn’t skimp on the filling or the sauce. A big win.
My Old Dutch is definitely the go to place for all things pancake. Standard ones, big ones, small ones (poffertjes) and American butterscotch are available with more toppings and fillings you could possibly dream of. Dessert-wise, big brand names are capitalised on, such as the use of Nutella, Kinder and Smarties products. The kids simply couldn’t resist the idea of Nutella and happily dug in and their milkshakes were long gone. My Dutch Apple Pie (£5.25) was warm and comforting.
Gabriel, my son, is a man of few words unless he really needs something. As we exited My Old Dutch he tugged on my coat and with broken English, thanks to his autism, told me he loved it and wants to come back the following week. Now there’s a positive review if you ever came across one. Fond family memories created, check.
131-132 High Holborn
London, WC1V 6PS
P.S. I was a guest of My Old Dutch.