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If you're a regular reader of our breakfast adventures, you're undoubtedly wondering why the Sacramento Breakfast Club would choose to enjoy breakfast at IHOP, which is a national chain of restaurants.  You've probably figured out that IHOP doesn't fit our criteria, as it's not "unique," not a mom and pop operation, and isn't native to the Sacramento region.  But most protocol, including our own, isn't etched in stone, and since Friday, June 26, 2009 was Mark's turn to choose, IHOP was his choice, so that was the location where today's breakfast meeting was held.

Photo:  IHOP is located along busy Madison Avenue, in suburban Sacramento, CA and the grounds are attractively landscaped.

Yes, IHOP is a national chain, with restaurants located in Everytown, U.S.A., but each restaurant sports a slightly different format, unique decor, and perhaps most importantly, a slightly different menu.  The greater Sacramento area is blessed with several IHOP restaurants, but for today's club meeting, we chose the restaurant on busy Madison Avenue, as it's comfortable, quite new, spacious, and we've eaten there before.  (Check out the link to read about our previous visit and the giant Colorado Omelet) Not to mention it's convenient for most of us, as its more or less on the way home from work...

After you walk in the front door, you'll come to the cashier/hostess station, and you'll be greeted by a friendly hostess who will seat you.  The Madison IHOP's dining room is divided into two sections, separated by a glass partition, and since there were seven of us today, we were seated at a large table in the "second" dining room, which was not a bad idea, as our club meetings can get rather loud at times!  Within what seemed like mere seconds, our friendly waitress, Devon, brought coffee, cream, ice water and menus to our table.  

Photo:  A look inside the first dining room, separated by a glass partition from the dining room where we conducted our club meeting.  Note the clean, attractive, comfortable and family-friendly decor.

IHOP's specialty is pancakes, and their breakfast menu features every variety of pancake that you can imagine, and many varieties that you can't imagine.  But there's more than pancakes to IHOP's breakfast menu, as their menu offers a seemingly endless array of tempting breakfast choices.  Practically every entre comes with a stack of pancakes as a side dish, but if pancakes aren't your "thing," IHOP will gladly substitute hash browns, fresh fruit, biscuits and gravy or cottage cheese.  

IHOP is a coffee lover's paradise, as the coffee is not only delicious, but it's plentiful.  Coffee arrives in pots that you pour yourself; I've heard people criticize that as being a labor-saving cop-out measure... I'm not sure which side of the fence I stand on, but I'm not particularly politically-motivated, and I'm more concerned about enjoying multiple cups of delicious coffee than the method that its served.  Plentiful is an excellent word to describe the quantity of coffee, as Devon started us out with three pots, and eventually brought a couple more...  I told you we love coffee!

Photo:  Devon takes Dan's order, as Mark still ponders the menu, even though he already knew that he wanted a gigantic chicken fried steak breakfast.

Choices, choices and more choices...  Mark picked IHOP because of a new item that they've added to their menu: The "Big" Country Fried Steak combination breakfast, which includes a gigantic 12-oz chicken fried steak, covered with gravy, three eggs on one plate, and a stack of three buttermilk pancakes AND an order of hash browns on another plate.  Mark is of the opinion that IHOP serves the best chicken fried steak breakfast in town... I really wanted to find out for myself if indeed Mark is correct, but there was NO WAY that I could eat a breakfast of that size... too bad a smaller steak isn't offered for lightweights like me.

Service is very fast at IHOP, as Devon began bringing our orders to our table in what seemed like only a few minutes.  Brand and Matt noticed that when Devon was taking our orders that she didn't write anything down - she committed our orders to memory, and when our orders arrived, everything was delivered, as ordered.  Now that's impressive!

You get a lot of food at IHOP, and it took Devon several trips to bring everything to our table, but she was up to the task, and even had the time to take a photo of us, upon my request.

Photo:  Devon brings a portion of our order to the table, with her ever-present smile.  We love a friendly waitress! This girl has a photographic memory when it comes to taking orders!

Since I wasn't quit up to the task of demolishing a "Big" Country Fried Steak, I elected to enjoy the biscuit and gravy platter.  At IHOP, it's a real treat, as you get two biscuits, sliced in half, covered in delicious country gravy, topped with four tender sausages, with hash browns on the side.  I ordered the optional two eggs; I just gotta have eggs with my breakfast!  If you love biscuits and gravy as much as I do, this dish is for you, as it's simply a slice of biscuit-and-gravy heaven, IHOP-style.  The biscuits were light and fluffy, the gravy was smooth and creamy, the sausages were tender and juicy, and the hash browns were crispy, golden brown on top, and soft and chewy on the bottom, just the way I like 'em, and the eggs over easy were cooked to perfection.  Simply put, my breakfast was delicious.  Check out the photo, as the presentation was a sight to behold!

Photo:  My delicious breakfast of sausage, biscuits and gravy, hash browns, and optional eggs on the side.  See what I mean about an attractive presentation?  The food tasted as good as it looked.

Naturally Mark ordered the chicken fried steak breakfast, and after finishing every morsel of his gigantic breakfast, reiterated that IHOP serves the best chicken fried steak in town; his statement must be true, as I've enjoyed quite a few chicken fried steak  breakfasts at many different restaurants in his company.  Next time we visit IHOP, I plan to order the chicken fried steak breakfast, and bring what I can't finish home in a box, as I want to put Mark's theory to the ultimate test.

Whatever stereotype opinion you have about IHOP, forget it, as IHOP serves an absolutely delicious breakfast, and offers comfortable, dining in a family-friendly atmosphere.  We really appreciated the fast, friendly service from our charming waitress, Devon, and the smiles we received from other staff members.  Today's breakfast received rave reviews from all attending members... IHOP on Madison Avenue is a keeper!

Photo:  Today's Sacramento Breakfast Club members, from left to right:  Matt Donnelly, Brad Holther, Bev MacLeod, Eric Rench, your author and webmaster, Dan MacLeod, David DeMario and Mar McIntire.  Mark seems happy that he ordered the "Big" Country Fried Steak breakfast.

IHOP's web site refers to the restaurant as "An American Icon," and I think that catch phrase pretty well describes the dining experience that members of the Sacramento Breakfast Club enjoyed.  Like "General Doug," we shall return...

International House of Pancakes
4821 Madison Ave.
Sacramento, CA 95841
916 338-0373
www.ihop.com


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