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Flap Yack

A shocking revelation: This picky pancake eater wasn't thrilled at Chris Cakes Kitchen.

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I love pancakes, but I've grown a lot fussier about them over the years. As a kid, I'd happily eat any doughy disc set in front of me, as long as I could douse it with Mrs. Butterworth's. Today, I rarely find a pancake that satisfies my expectations (and it's not because I was once a professional flapjack flipper in my long and checkered restaurant career).

There's an art to making the perfect pancake, but every artist has his or her own standard of perfection. I won't eat a pancake that's too thick or too thin, undercooked (horror!) or even a shade too crusty. I have friends who adore the hubcap-sized pancakes hanging over the plates at a couple of local diners, but they get cold before I can finish them.

Over the summer, Kansas City's best-known pancake maven, Steve Hamilton of the Chris Cakes catering business, opened a breakfast buffet restaurant called Chris Cakes Kitchen at 5405 West 151st Street in Louisburg. It's a terrific culinary concept, I thought, so I was eager to dine there last week. For adults, it costs $9.88 (plus tax) to fill up on pancakes, biscuits and gravy, eggs, two kinds of hash browns, corned-beef hash and canned peaches — among many other things.

It's not the easiest buffet to maneuver (Hamilton could learn a few things about customer flow by checking out some local Chinese buffets), and the staff is young, unpolished and not especially helpful — and, in one case, not even particularly nice.

Still, though, my friend Bob deemed it a great place to take kids. Indeed, on the Sunday morning I was there, the place was crawling with youngsters, and one-third of the women were pregnant. Kids have good reason to love the place: They can smother their flapjacks with four kinds of syrup and follow up with a healthy bowl of chocolate pudding. I would have loved it, too, before I got older and more picky.

To be honest, I wasn't that thrilled with my pancakes. "They're a little dry," I whispered to Bob.

I know I'm treading on sacred ground by making such a comment about Hamilton's work. A woman sitting at the next table heard me and scowled as if I'd kicked a puppy.

I sheepishly cleaned my plate and didn't say another word.

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