The Skinny Pancake is a perfect fit for revitalized downtown Albany

Let Me Give You The Skinny: The newest addition to downtown Albany, The Skinny Pancake, ties things up nicely on North Pearl Street, in a block where you can order Vietnamese banh mi, vegan burgers, or throw a ax, depending on your mood.

Now The Skinny Pancake delivers us snacks in the car with an all-day spot around the corner from historic Steuben Place, where the building’s chiseled stone facade has an attractive gingerbread look. Inside, there’s mood-boosting Stacks coffee, hot Indian Ladder apple cider that breaks the cold, and all-day sweet or savory pancakes served up to 90s indie rock. Add exposed brickwork, comfy leather sofas, a self-service coffee bar, a conscience-driven ethos and chalkboards illustrated with The Egg and a love for all things local, and it feels like Ben & Jerry’s meets the TV coffee lounge of “Friends,” Central Perk.

No wonder this Vermont-based company has been impacted by the revitalization of downtown Albany and Troy. What’s unexpected is that owner Benjy Adler, who opened the first Skinny Pancake in Burlington in 2007 with his brother Jonny, saw beauty in this stretch of North Pearl that has been unattractive for years. With Redburn Development’s Jeff Buell behind more downtown redevelopment and the opening of The Kenmore complex and its storefront restaurants with upstairs apartments, the arrival of The Skinny Pancake seems to herald good times ahead.

I’m a big pancake fan. I visited the original Burlington Skinny Pancake in 2008, was gutted when we lost the creperie in Saratoga, Ravenous and had high hopes for a French press advertised creperie planned next to McGeary’s which n failed to take off. So for me The Skinny Pancake is a welcome option downtown.

Ever heard of a frumple? Me niether. It’s a pancake swirling in a rosette (like those TikTok viral omelettes) and an interior invention born out of a need for a side dish to go with Noah’s Ark eggs and bacon when customers wanted egg toast . Light, fluffy and dusted with cinnamon icing sugar, it’s surprisingly good in its simplest form, somewhat transformed by its unusual shape.

The rest of the menu is divided along sweet and savory lines: who can argue with the Sugarshack, a sweet crepe drizzled with maple syrup and powdered sugar — surely Vermont’s answer to a French sugar-and-lemon classic. But my guest had a sweeter tooth, ogling the Choco Nutty or the Choco Monkey, either covered in palm oil-free chocolate hazelnut spread. Make it a Matchmaker with seasonal fruits, or a PB&B (peanut butter and banana). All come with a side of sweetened whipped cream.

Early one morning, I hosted the breakfast monster with a cageless fried egg, wilted spinach, caramelized onions, and roasted squash tossed with pesto and oozing Vermont Cabot cheddar. I had added seasoned seitan – a powerful contribution to an already Herculean thing – but go ahead and indulge like I did: add creamy hot chocolate and a sweet cinnamon frumple on the side.

The menu is a bit off with a burger lacking in salt or flavor, and the supposedly shareable sides have surprisingly small portions. At $11, I would have expected more fries in the poutine and more gooey melted cheese curds, although the Screamin Ridge Farm chicken gravy was on point. Two other sides – large roasted beet and sweet potato salad with goat cheese and a drizzle of honey, and a cold bean and green salad – were fine, but $5 seems high for small half bowls full. Call me old school upstate, but when I read beans and greens, I think Italian and hot.

The Apples & Brie wants to play on the savory team in a savory pancake, but an excess of blueberry compote has him scrambling for the other side. Don’t worry, there’s another reason to come back: A Jaffa crepe with orange-bourbon marmalade and melted chocolate chips in a chocolate crepe shell.

Although this is The Skinny Pancake’s seventh location, it’s the first to launch with contactless online ordering, a COVID-19 innovation that has proven easier to launch from the get-go than at locations. existing. And while I’ve heard a mixed review or two over the opening week, my visits have all been like clockwork: seated, QR menu scanned, orders placed and cups of London Fog chai tea and cider hot arriving quickly on the table, followed by pancakes. So I have nothing to complain about. Granted, there were a few glitches – a forgotten pickle and whipped cream added to hot chocolate when it wasn’t requested – but the remedies were immediate. The staff are friendly, the food quick and the managers check in at the tables as you would expect in a finer restaurant.

Online, you can add or save toppings, create a dozen allergy alerts ranging from nuts to alcohol, choose dairy or plant-based milk, choose flavored syrups, and (soon) add CBD oil to your drink. You can even assign items to guests in your party and split the bill. Those who find the many customizable options too much can always head to the counter to order from the staff, where those ordering online also pick up their takeout. But why bother? With space this comfortable and table service speed unrelated to the queue, park and take your time.

In its first few weeks I wasn’t sure how deep the local partnerships were, but they use Highland Hollow for beef and pork, Troy-based seitan Halo, Stacks coffee, Indian Ladders apple cider and maple syrup from New York though, natch, it’s King Arthur flour from Vermont. By the way, vegan and buckwheat pancakes are available on request. Having participated in the Greene County Gray Fox Bluegrass Music Festival for years, they are in the planning phase for live music and expanded hours once their liquor license arrives. Sure, brunch is a reliable bestseller, where you can expect Bloody Marys and mimosas; at night, beers and margaritas will rock the sound of the indie jam band.

It’s clear that The Skinny Pancake is all about loving the local. During the pandemic, the company partnered with others to form ShiftMeals, providing food and community gardens to help address food insecurity in Vermont. Here, across North Pearl, a mural of overlapping hearts says, “All hearts are connected.” Looks like The Skinny Pancake is at home.

The skinny pancake

Address: 1 Steuben St., Albany (use 76 N. Pearl St. for GPS)
Hours: 8 a.m. to 3 p.m. daily. Scheduled dinner hours after liquor license approval.
Prices: pancakes, $5 to $13; burgers and burritos, $12 to $14; sides, $5 to $11. Skinny Pancake merchandise available, from hot sauce and frisbees to maple syrup and clothing.
information: 518-512-0182 and skinnypancake.com/locations/albany


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