You can’t talk West L.A. food without Roy Choi – benevolent dictator of preter-405 dining – being mentioned. Beyond the fusion bastions like Chego and Kogi, and “fast food” game-changer LocoL, Choi also gave us Sunny Spot: the closest you will get in the Southland to the “sexy Caribbean” restaurants we miss so…*sigh*….so bitterly from New York.
But while Rum & Biscuits had frequented Choi’s A-Frame in Culver City before, we’d never been for breakfast, which is where the Yelp heat really turns up, evidently. With the Mrs. craving pancakes for the first time in memory, it seemed two paths had serendipitously collided: A-Frame’s pancakes were lauded, and served All-You-Can-Eat, in five different flavors.
It was the least we could do to crush them all, and report back you how each one ranked, and which took the top honors.
With mother-in-law and self-proclaimed pancake crusher in tow, we settled in for the feast. Yeah, Mommee look concerned…because she’s bout to crush ’em!
How the pancakes ranked:
As shameless tropical fruit THOTs, we at Rum & Biscuits typically see a menu item with pineapple (P), orange (O), and guava (G) together, then see a blinding flash of light and then regain consciousness after we’ve already devoured the dish. Needless to say, this was the first we flavor ordered. And it was good! The fruit spread was tangy and orange-forward one moment, then sweet and pineapply the next. If anything it was a bit too sweet and jammy, almost artificially so – just enough to give the edge to some tough competition.
We’d be remiss to not point out that the base buttermilk pancake was particularly satisfying – striking that essential balance of rich butteriness and the slightest tartness – oily and moist but still light and fluffy. Perfect golden brown crust as well. Tip of that Fundamentals Hat to you, Chef Choi.
3. Banana Mac Nut
Here’s where it gets contentious. Our Top Three slots were not without contention. For some at the table, the Banana Mac Nut took home the gold, and with good reason. If you can imagine a banana nut muffin spread, you can imagine this pancake. It won over the usual banana-dismissers among us, and the texture combo of creamy caramelized bananas, light-as-air whipped cream, and crunch toasted macadamia gave it a distinct completeness among the offerings. Extra points for also being the most plentiful topping of the five, and easiest to actually distribute across the pancake.
2. Lilikoi Butter
What’s Lilikoi, you ask, apart from just something fun to say? Among other things, delicious, and hardly exclusive to A-Frame, apparently. Incorporating passion fruit, sugar, butter, and eggs, lilikoi is a passion fruit curd popular in Hawaii and as our readers may recall from another recent Rum & Biscuits breakfast, increasingly popular in L.A.
As lilikois go (wow, never thought we’d be in a place to say that), this one didn’t have quite the juicy passion fruit umph we love so much, nor the sour zing of balancing lemon – both flavors were fairly mellow. But yo, it’s passion fruit, which never, ever fails. Except in a direct head to head with one thing:
1. Buttermilk Chicken
Any five star Yelp review of A-Frame will almost certainly center on the chicken, which gets its own All-You-Can-Eat day on Sundays. And while we have yet to partake in that particular poultry celebration, here between flapjack and syrup, it shines. Among the fearsome lemongrass haters of Rum & Biscuits, Choi’s mochiko chicken – marinated in the maligned seasoning, along with cilantro – succeeded in showing us the merit of the herb, pairing with the buttermilk and succulent dark meat to give the chicken a savory richness but with a refreshingly bitter and herbal kick. In a world where so many breakfast-food-plus-fried-chicken marriages seem surface level, this combo seemed thought out. And it was bangin’. Hence, the crown.
But regarding the contested election…
Look, we want to be fair, this was a close race. Even beyond our clear standout favorites, others lower on the list seemed more repeatable, or liable to float higher on a different day with a different craving. Fortunately, this is one of those rare circumstances where you can have your cake and eat it, too. Or, as it were, have as many cakes as you want, served two at a time, with bottomless mimosas.
It’s All You Can Eat, fam, that’s what we’re saying. So gauge your hunger level accordingly, begin with the Buttermilk Chicken and proceed down the list. Our mother-in-law – a proud pancake fan but unlike a lumberjack in every way – still managed six of these mdeium-sized pancakes before brunch was done, so rest assured the top two or three are feasible, maybe even with tie-breaker final round for your own fav among them.
And with that, we wish you bon appetit and happy eating!