Our United Kingdom correspondent says they're not terrible
Recently, restaurants' new menu items have veered toward the outlandish, from the legendary KFC Double Down to the more recent foot-tall Boss burger from Chili’s. But sometimes, all it takes is a simple menu addition to turn heads—like Starbucks in the United Kingdom, which recently starting serving pancakes.
After hearing that Starbucks had pancakes, I had to hit up my local location here in Sheffield, South Yorkshire, to see just what deal is. According to an employee, the stack of three pancakes—which sells for £3 (around $4)—was added about a month ago. Despite being a recent addition, no signage was hung to announce its arrival. Instead, a display version simply sat in the case alongside other food options. The good news was that, despite dropping in around 4 p.m., these pancakes are offered all day long, so I tossed the barista a five-pound note and waited patiently for the next big question to be answered: How are they made?
The barista himself actually wasn’t entire sure, digging through a few refrigerators before finding the unopened cardboard box that housed the premade flapjacks. He tossed a stack of three into a small silver oven, and we were off to the races. About 90 seconds later, I was offered a stack of three pancakes on a ceramic plate accompanied by a bit of butter and two little tubs of Lyles Golden Syrup that were described by an employee as “maple-flavored syrup.”
I dug in. The pancakes themselves weren’t bad. Despite arriving at the store premade, they looked as if they just came off the griddle—golden brown with air-bubbles to boot. Texture-wise, they were fluffy and cakey, just as a pancake should be. Yes, they were a touch dry, but no more so than your average homemade Bisquick version. The syrup was thin and sugary, but along with a bit of butter, was really all I needed. The dish worked fine: an unexpectedly satiating afternoon snack if not necessarily a complete breakfast. At over a dollar per pancake, they did feel a bit overpriced, and I wouldn’t rearrange my morning plans to make this my new breakfast spot. But at the same time, if I had to catch a train and Starbucks was the only place to grab a morning bite, I might give these pancakes another go.
But would other people do the same? When asked about how they were selling up here in Northern England, the barista said orders were “few and far between,” something a bit of promotion might help. But another employee piped in, saying that how they sold in Sheffield was pretty much immaterial: Whether they’ll stick around on the menu depends on how they sell down in London. Still, for now though, he said he hadn’t gotten any indication that they were getting the ax. And the truth is, you could definitely find something worse to pair with a macchiato.