Swedish pancakes pose two breakfast questions.
Are they crepes? Are they pancakes?
The answer is yes.
They’re sometimes called pancakes but look and taste more like crepes with a delicate, eggy texture.
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Find them listed on local menus as either cakes or crepes.
Those who hail from Nordic countries will make the case that there’s one ingredient that turns them Swedish, and that’s lingonberries. Those are mountain cranberries with a distinctive, tart finish.
Reader Jocelyn Lemus asked recently: Where to find the pancakes made with lingonberries, other than at chain breakfast spots?
I found four locally owned restaurants listing the dish, although with different names, all served with lingonberries fit for a Swede.
Here’s where to go in the order in which I liked them best.
Did I miss your favorite Swedish crepes with lingonberries in Pierce County? Send me a note, and I’ll pass it to Lemus.
HARVESTER RESTAURANT TACOMA
29 N. Tacoma Ave., Tacoma; 253-272-1193
On the menu: Listed as “housemade crepes” with a choice of lingonberries or other toppings and bacon or sausage, $10.29 (price and accompaniments will change soon).
The best version of Swedish pancakes I found are a newly made-over recipe at The Harvester in Tacoma’s Stadium neighborhood.
General manager Alexa Schuett a few months ago invested in kitchen equipment to turn out thinner, more consistent crepes.
“They’re difficult to make, but there is a special wooden tool, like what a rake would be like if it didn’t have teeth, we use that to spread the batter,” said Schuett. “The finesse is you have to spin it perfectly.”
“The crepes we were doing not long ago, they were almost a pancake, they were so thick, but that’s not a crepe,” said Schuett, who recently added even more new crepes to the menu.
The Harvester’s version tasted just as reader Lemus said she likes her Swedish crepes: “The crepe has to be thin with flaky edges and a light coating of powdered sugar is always a plus.”
Nailed it. The Harvester’s version tasted eggy with a delicate resistance in the center with lacy crispness on the edges.
It was topped with the Felix brand lingonberries, the same lingonberry preserves brand at all but one restaurant on this tour.
The Felix lingonberry preserves intersected the tart side of sweet-and-tart with a deep berry flavor. The preserves came with pops of whole juicy berries, which turned the flavor even more tart.
I appreciated the sweetness was mild, but the Harvester’s crepes were coated with a sprinkle of powdered sugar to help those who prefer more sweet to tart.
Whipped real butter and warm Log Cabin-style syrup on the side. The crepes were the most substantial of any sampled, too, with plate sized crepes triple folded and three to the plate. Lingonberries were generously poured across both ends of the crepes.
BEN DEW’S CLUBHOUSE GRILL
6501 Sixth Ave., Tacoma; 253-564-4442
On the menu: Listed as Swedish crepes, $9.25.
Swedish pancakes always have been one of the most popular breakfast items, said Ben Dew’s Clubhouse Grill owner Kris Carlson-Tweten.
Folded-over crepes were served with a cloud of real whipped butter and two pools of Felix brand lingonberries on either side of the three crepes sprinkled with powdered sugar.
The crepe texture was puffier, a little thicker and a bit less eggy than the Stadium Harvester’s version but still carried that luscious, eggy texture of crepes.
With pancake syrup on the side if requested.
HARVESTER RESTAURANT GIG HARBOR
5601 Soundview Drive, Gig Harbor; 253-851-8500
On the menu: Listed as Swedish crepes with lingonberries (with the option of strawberries), with bacon or sausage, $11.50
The crepes here were lacy edged, but the batter carried more flour, less egg, and tasted more like a thin pancake batter with a light eggy texture. The tart lingonberries flanked either end of the three folded-over crepes with a plastic dish of whipped butter, a dusting of powdered sugar and two slices of crispy bacon (or a choice of sausage). Although a different brand of lingonberies — the Roland brand is used here — the tart taste and texture were similar to the Felix brand.
With pancake syrup on the side if requested.
The restaurant name is the same, but the Tacoma and Gig Harbor Harvesters have different owners (but historically stem from the same family of restaurants).
SUNSET GRILL RESTAURANT AND LOUNGE
4926 Point Fosdick Drive NW, Gig Harbor; 253-851-8282
On the menu: Listed as Swedish crepes with lingonberries (or the option of strawberries), $8.25
The batter here was aromatic and richer, thanks to an infusion of real vanilla in the batter, said Sunset co-owner Liz Remick. Served with real butter pats and warm pancake syrup on the side, plus the tart Felix lingonberries served in a ramekin.
Here, the crepes were dusted with powdered sugar and rolled up like crepe cigars. The texture was similar to a thin pancake with more flour and less egg in the batter.
MINUS THE LINGONBERRIES
Mrs. Turner’s Restaurant: Absolutely delicious with just the right delicate-and-eggy texture but not served with lingonberries. The Swedish “cakes” at this downtown Puyallup eatery came with lemon and butter, raspberry or strawberries ($7.99 to $9.99). Go try them. 701 E. Main, Puyallup; 253-848-7761.
Homestead Restaurant and Bakery: Also not served with lingonberries but with a firm and sturdy thin pancake texture at this classic diner on South Tacoma Way. Listed as Swedish pancakes with raspberry butter ($8.75). 7837 South Tacoma Way; 253-476-9000.
NORWEGIAN PANCAKES, TOO?
If you want pancakes the way the Norwegians make them, check out the all-you-can-eat pancake feed the second Sunday of every month (except July and August), from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m., at Tacoma’s Normanna Hall.
Sponsored by Sons of Norway Norden Lodge #2 in Tacoma. $10 adults, $5 ages 6-12 and free for kids 5 and younger. Eggs, bacon, juice, coffee included. House-made cakes recipe, served with lingonberries or syrup. 1106 S.15th St., Tacoma; 253-627-9012.
Swedish crepes are not listed nor are lingonberries, but for fine crepes in the area, head to Savor Creperie in downtown Tacoma (1916 Pacific Ave., Tacoma; 253-365-5534), Craft.19 Espresso and Creperie in downtown Sumner (1201 Main St., Sumner; 253-447-7957) or Jewel Box Cafe at Point Ruston (5107 Grand Loop, Tacoma; 253-752-4863).