Second Annual Flapjack Flip-Off

This year's contest expands to seven cake contenders!

The "Nice address, same pancake mix" award goes to: Gables Diner. They were hot, slightly darker in color (though still not robustly brown), the syrup cold and not real maple, the coffee hot and rapidly replenished. "Not bad" is the best you can say. Price: 3 for $5; 5 for $8. Coffee: $2. At 2320 Galiano Ave., Coral Gables; 305-567-0330.

The "Congeniality" award goes to: Picnics at Allen's. The waitresses charm in an old-fashioned way; the pancakes are puffy, pleasant-tasting, and feature attractive striations across the well-browned surfaces. My guess is that they use Bisquick pancake mix, as opposed to the more subtly flavored Aunt Jemima. Maple-flavored syrup served in plastic squeeze bottles, which takes away even the pleasure of pretending to be pouring on real syrup. Price: 2 for $2.95, 3 for $3.95. Coffee: 95 cents. At 4000 Red Rd., Miami; 305-665-6964.

The "Russell Crowe Syndrome" award goes to: S&S Diner. The winner of the First Annual Flapjack Flip-Off, this 64-year-old downtown Miami institution still puts out a heckuva plate of cakes. The trio of large, extra-fluffy flapjacks were richly browned, moist, and emitted little puffs of steam. Syrup watery, and points taken off for serving margarine, not butter. Price: 3 large flapjacks for $2.95 -- for the second year in a row, the best pancake bargain. At 1757 NE Second Ave., Miami; 305-373-4291.

And the winning flapjacks are ... at the Biltmore!
Steve Satterwhite
And the winning flapjacks are ... at the Biltmore!

Winner of the Second Annual Flapjack Flip-Off is: 1200 at the Biltmore Hotel. The pancakes are twice as pricey as the rest, but are more than twice as good. Though thinner and crêpier than I prefer, the three delicate, golden-hued cakes emanated the sweet tastes of butter and vanilla, at the same time convincingly evoking the freshness of made-from-scratch batter. Little butter balls, two small bottles of real Vermont maple syrup, and a faint dusting of confectioners' sugar combined for the strongest of supporting casts, and that's not even taking into account three melon-ball scoops of fruit on the side -- the only garnish among the contenders. Excellent coffee, professional service, and charming courtyard seats by an outdoor fountain further enhanced the appeal of the winning flapjacks. That famous Hollywood actor Kyle MacLachlan was sitting at a nearby table did not add points or in any way affect the voting process, though I was touched by his decision to make a surprise appearance at this year's event. One can only surmise that the third flip-off is going to be a doozy. Price: 3 for $8.75. Coffee: $2.50. At 1200 Anastasia Ave., Coral Gables; 305-445-1926.

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