What happens when a new concept for serving pancakes falls as flat as … well, a pancake?
That’s the problem with Lawrence’s latest breakfast place, Flip’d, a fast-food twist on breakfast brought to you by the people behind pancake chain IHOP. Lawrence’s Flip’d, which opened in mid-September, is the first entrant in what the company expects to be a national chain of similar restaurants.
The big idea of Flip’d is to take pancakes off of plates and put them into bowls, then cover them with toppings ranging from fruit to eggs, cheese and breakfast meats. It’s an interesting idea, and the pancakes are perfectly adequate — but they really aren’t very different from what you’d get from corporate sister restaurant IHOP on the other side of town.
Flip’d’s pancakes are good for a fast-food product, appropriately fluffy with a buttermilk tang. The sausage and bacon are fresh and of good quality. But these things are not new, and while putting them in a bowl makes them a little easier to eat quickly, it does nothing special for the flavor and texture of the ingredients.
And in case you’re wondering whether scrambled eggs, bacon and cheese taste good on pancakes, it turns out the answer is a resounding “No.” The pancakes immediately draw the moisture out of the eggs, resulting in collapsing cakes and rubbery eggs.
The sweet toppings offered are, in theory, fresher, but they don’t actually taste different — the fresh strawberries in agave taste the same as the usual sliced strawberries in syrup.
The rest of the menu follows a similar pattern. The breakfast sandwiches, burritos and bowls are fine, and nothing more. The salads and sandwiches are of decent quality but fail to offer anything unique or exciting. The fresh pastry is a cut above the rest of the menu in terms of quality, but still doesn’t beat easily available local products. The beverage options are pretty much the usual, adequate for accompanying a meal. Prices are high for fast food, and higher for portion size than other local breakfast restaurants.
In addition to playing with its food, Flip’d also is experimenting with new ways of serving it, shifting from the traditional sit-down style of IHOP. There is a seated dining area, but it’s much smaller than most IHOPs. Food can be ordered from a computer kiosk in the lobby, from the restaurant’s website, or at the counter.
There is a pick-up cubicle and a drive-thru window — but you can’t order from the drive-thru. None of this is immediately intuitive, and navigating Flip’d feels awkward as a result.
Where Flip’d does excel is in consistency. The IHOP corporate backbone provides a level of mechanical reliability that means a customer can get any menu product quickly and consistently. The pancakes and bacon will be freshly prepared and of expected taste, texture, and temperature. The restaurant is clean and brightly lit, service is efficient and polite, and orders are produced promptly. If you’re in a hurry and need hand-portable food, this is a better option than most fast food. But it’s hardly a reinvention of the breakfast experience.
Overall: 4/10. Better than average quality for fast food, but offers nothing that beats local options or even other IHOPs.
— Elwood Schaad (he/him) is a longtime Lawrencian who has worked in nearly every role at many local restaurants over the years, and who has a deep love of Lawrence’s local food culture. Read more of his reviews for the Times here.