Nighthawk: I Love You but I’m Not in Love with You

This was not the meaty, fluffy stack of heaven I had come to expect. In fact, there was no fluff factor to talk about at all.

I first wrote about Nighthawk: Breakfast Bar in Venice here. I extolled their pancakes, and described the mouthfeel as “exploding pleasure”. No other place has achieved a 10/10 on the Tasty Stacks scale yet. I kept going back because they were dependably delectable on all fronts. Nighthawk could do no wrong with their pancakes in my eyes. 

Well, nothing lasts forever. Not even pancakes.

I came here most recently on a first date. My date wasn’t wearing shoes. Instead, he was wearing a thin strip of cloth, that at a glance, could pass for weird sandals. This was so he would still be served at restaurants, he explained. He was also a vegetarian, which I try to be open-minded about as a card-carrying meat eater.

I ordered my usual – the Big Bird and Short Stack – which is three sweet potato pancakes (that taste less like sweet potatoes and more like “heaven in cooked batter form“) topped with fried chicken.

Of course, I had raved about the pancakes here. My date asked if he could have some and I hesitated. Share my Nighthawk pancakes? I barely knew this person. I agreed because I didn’t want to seem completely pancake crazy on the first date. I like to save that for at least the second date.   

The pancakes arrived and I could tell immediately something was off. They looked thin, like someone had squished all the joy out of them. This was not the meaty, fluffy stack of heaven I had come to expect. In fact, there was no fluff factor to talk about at all. Already anguished, I took a bite sans butter or syrup. The flavor was still there, kind of, but it just wasn’t the same. I felt as deflated as the pancakes. 

The chicken was similarly flattened into thinner than usual cutlets. There was a fried coating, but it wasn’t crispy, which is a sin in the fried chicken world. Even worse, there was very little flavor. 

I gave my date a sizable pancake piece, and I wonder if this was where things went south. These were not up to the standards I had talked about. Maybe he thought I didn’t know what a good pancake was. 

The highlight of the meal was the cookie dough butter. It’s hard to go wrong with butter but this stuff is fucking outstanding. I lathered it on my un-fluffy pancakes. They needed a boost and this helped. 

I would have taken photos of this sad stack, but didn’t want to blow my undercover pancake cover on the first date. Not that it mattered. Though I was fond of my humorous and shoe-less date, he texted me the next day that he wasn’t interested. I didn’t even get a chance to ask him his pancake opinion. I belatedly realized this was because he had been talking so much that I let him run away with the conversation which devolved into backhanded novel writing bragging and a long Coachella acid story (his).

Most importantly, will I go back to Nighthawk? Maybe. But I’m not sure my heart can take another un-fluffy mediocre pancake stack from here. 

JUST THE STACKS – 7/10 TASTY STACKS

Overall Taste: Disappointing, but not bad.

Mouthfeel: Something was missing. That something was the perfect pancake fluff that used to be here.

Size: The size of these was still ok, but they were so flattened they seemed much smaller.

Presentation: A very flat stack of three pancakes, topped with two very flat pieces of fried chicken. 

Price: $17 (Expensive for the unremarkable quality.)

Location: 417 Washington Blvd, Venice, CA 90292

Erewhon: Are These Even Pancakes?


Pancakes should bring joy and delight, and maybe evoke pleasant memories of smiley-face chocolate chip pancakes.

I have been irritated by these pancakes ever since Erewhon started selling them. They’re tiny. They cost $10.95 and don’t even have any gluten in them. Gluten is delicious but I understand some people can’t or won’t eat it. 

I gave these pancakes the benefit of the doubt. I put them on a real plate and heated them up, but not too much, because I didn’t want them to lose their “raw” integrity. I tried to eat them with an open mind and paired them with a good cup of coffee.

I felt like I was eating mashed up fruit & nuts sculpted into a circular shape. They tasted exactly like their ingredients: pecan, cashew, banana, apple juice, ginger, cinnamon, nutmeg, vanilla, Himalayan salt, red maca. This wasn’t necessarily bad, but it did not delight my taste-buds. I felt cheated out of a pancake experience.

These mini “pancakes” come with syrup and a coconut cream spread. The coconut cream was pretty tasty and added an interesting layer of sweetness but didn’t do much to improve my opinion. The syrup was a nice touch but didn’t make me feel like I was eating pancakes. 

Do these even meet the definition of a pancake? 

Merriam-Webster defines a pancake as “a flat cake made of thin batter and cooked (as on a griddle) on both sides.” I don’t mean to be a pancake militant, but according to this definition and my gut feeling, these aren’t pancakes. Pancakes should bring joy and delight, and maybe evoke pleasant memories of smiley-face chocolate chip pancakes. These did none of that for me.

If I wanted an expensive fruit nut mush snack, I might get these again, but I doubt it. I think there are better vegan, gluten-free pancake options out there. But if you are desperately craving pancakes and you pretend real fucking hard, these might work for you.

Just the Stacks – 2/10 Tasty Stacks 

Overall Taste: These had a definite health bar taste to them.

Mouthfeel: Sweet and mushy, but the coconut cream had a very nice texture to it.

Size: Perfect for a dollhouse.  

Presentation: Not the most aesthetically pleasing.

Price: $10.95

Location:  585 Venice Blvd, Venice, CA 90291