A visitor to this site recently sent an email asking me to post some thoughts on the International House of Pancakes here in Rehoboth Beach. Well, if you must know, my first experience with this location was just after they opened for business several years ago. We walked in and found ourselves smack in the middle of a
loud and angry argument between the hostess and a server–right there at the front desk. We didn't even get seated until one of them finally ended up stalking away. I actually thought we were on Candid Camera. Needless to say, this pretty much set the tone for the rest of the meal. But the childhood memories of those overstuffed burrito-like omelettes and fluffy pancakes never totally faded away, so I figured I'd let bygones be bygones and try it again. That was five visits ago.
As you would normally expect, the entire staff is pleasant and professional, from the hostess, to the manager, to our server and the servers handling the tables around us. I am also pleased to report that, during every visit so far, the food has been just as I remembered it. I had the “Hearty Ham Omelette” with a dainty side of 3 buttermilk pancakes. IHOP's omelettes are built “French style,” which means they are rolled, rather than folded like a taco (“American style”). Years ago I had a friend who was a cook at the IHOP in Laurel, MD and he told me that their secret omelette ingredient was a splash of pancake batter. It's not a secret anymore (they print it right on the menu), and it really does make a difference. As the yeasty mix cooks with the eggs, it imparts an airy “fluff” and a substantial texture. I also discovered that “hearty” on the omelette menu means: Extra ham, plus cheese sauce in addition to the cheese filling. There is nothing whatsoever wrong with this.
Regulars at this site know how I rave about the pancakes at another iconic Rehoboth restaurant…well, I was pleasantly surprised to find that IHOP's are in the same league. Moist, hot, soft but not mushy, with a vanilla-like aroma, these flapjacks did not disappoint. Through the buttery, carbohydrate-induced haze, I seem to remember that one my dining companions had the spinach and mushroom omelette and the other had the French Toast Combo–a wonderfully lethal combination of French Toast, cream cheese, fruit (some nice fiber for you, bubula…), powdered sugar, a couple of eggs and some bacon. And all for about 7 bucks. They were both quite happy as they staggered out.
UPDATE: Please bear with me as I digress for a short moment. I am tired of the self-important complainers who send me horrified emails that I “say too many nice things” about IHOP (or any other middle-of-the-road place). I awarded IHOP a 4.5 stars for food because it was exactly what I expected from a well-run IHOP. By the same token, I also gave Eden a 4.5 for its food because it was exactly what I expected to get at Eden. I promised you honesty. If you're horrified that I review (and, in come cases, speak well of) basic places like Popeye's, IHOP, Gus & Gus', etc., I sincerely appreciate the compliment, but this is the beach, not mid-town Manhattan. I had no idea I would be stirring up so many people with this web site. (PS: I love it. NEVER stop emailing! :o)
Now back to our regularly scheduled programming:
I would've liked to have offered some thoughts on the lunch/dinner items, but I never make it past the breakfast page. So I need to go back and try some of the main courses that don't involve breakfasty stuff. If you've had any of these things, would you post your thoughts below, with specific suggestions, please? I guess that there could be a wider variation in quality among the lunch and dinner items, but there is no evidence of that as of yet. So stay tuned. When I go back, I'll post a notice under “What's New” so you can immediately drop what you're doing and get the latest scoop.
By the way, if you've visited our Ratings/Standards section, you see that we reduce the “bathroom” rating for restaurants with those annoying blow dryers instead of paper towels. IHOP is an exception, as they have those high-velocity Boeing 747 Jet Engine (well, Xlerator, actually) hand dryers that feel really neat as they dry your hands in about 5 seconds if they don't blow your fingers off first. They actually work, and places that have them get high marks. (The Arby's in Lewes has one too. Whee!!)
IHOP is located on the west side of the highway, directly across from the Tanger Seaside Outlets, not even a mile north of where Rehoboth Avenue becomes Rt. 1. The official address is 36670 Bayside Outlet Drive. It never hurts to call, especially in the off-season, though they appear to be open regular hours year-round (302) 226-8082. Click here to see a sample menu of their breakfast combos. (B., L., D.). Price range: Inexpensive +.
Disappointing. This was my first visit to an ihop–anywhere, ever. There are no ihops in my home area. However, I’ve eaten in similar chain restaurants in a variety locations across the country. I’m comparing my experience to that history with family-oriented, chain establishments.
First, the food.
The quality is mostly acceptable for this kind of establishment. The pricing is also in the same range as similar restaurants. The Belgian waffle was fine. As expected, the butter was refrigerated and whipped. The syrup was artificial–again, as expected. The sausage was low quality and dry. Our waffles and the sausage were barely tepid when served. The waffles were cold enough when served that my the time I finished my waffle, the butter had not yet fully melted. Unacceptable.
The coffee was hot and fresh and standard fare for these establishments.
When we arrived, the crowd was very light–maybe eight-ten tables including ours. There were three visible wait staff and a a young man bussing tables. It took our server a few minutes to approach our table–long enough for us to read through the whole menu and decide on our choices. She apologized for the wait and took our order. At this time, there was a woman dining alone in the booth next to ours. Just after we ordered, a couple was seated at the booth across from ours.
It took several minutes for our coffee to arrive. We waited an unreasonable length of time for our food, given how light the crowd was. Our meal was served at the same time as the couple across from us was served. At this point, the woman at the next booth got up and left–presumably because she had not yet been served anything but coffee. Once that occurred, suddenly staff appeared from everywhere, so any thoughts that understaffing was the reason for the delays disappeared. At least three people came, one at a time, and stared at the now empty booth as though there was some new information to be divined from looking at the empty space.
As we were roughly halfway through our meal, a man, who appeared to be the manager, began loudly chastising one of the staff in full earshot of the entire dining room. This lasted for, perhaps, two minutes. Not exactly conducive to having a pleasant meal.
In summary, this was one on the least pleasant breakfast experiences I’ve had in a long time.
For Ihop the place can be busy at some points of the day, it depends on what time you go. Including with the butter or margarine the stuff isn’t homemade anymore, Ihop is also a food chain restaurant. From Mcdonalds to a few fancy places, they still can be cheap at times. I may not be a good critique, but I do know my facts.
The IHOP Monsterburger has become the standard by which my wife and I judge supposedly gourmet burgers. The IHOP Monster is better than Red Robin but not as good as Cheeburger Cheeburger or Five Guys. We hit the IHOP quite frequently for a low cost, consistently good burger served by pleasant staff.