Pancake Day: an overview of the best pancakes in Durham

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Pancake Day is nearly upon us. Whether it’s your first Pancake Day in Durham, or your fourth, it’s crucial that your café of choice serves up the fluffiest stack in town. With many breakfast and brunch locations, Durham has a lot to offer, and a lot to compete with. Here are a few options to make your choice tomorrow a little easier.

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Flat White Kitchen

This iconic café on Saddler Street is bursting with beautiful décor, from the plants hanging down from the ceiling, to the exposed brick walls. Every inch of every room is considered. The atmosphere enhances the experience. After visiting once, I wanted to return just so I could see more of the place. The infamous queue outside in Durham’s winter weather makes entering the café even more of an exciting prospect, visitors drawn in by the scent of fresh pancakes wafting through the building. 

The selection of pancakes is mouth-watering, and I eventually chose the fruit pancakes with cinder toffee cream and maple syrup — which were incredible. The pancakes were soft and absorbed the syrup beautifully, the cinder toffee cream was smooth, and the fruit was sweet. Perhaps a bit too sweet. I couldn’t finish the pancakes and the thought of another bite made me feel nauseous! Nevertheless, I recommend Flat White Kitchen to those truly dedicated to their pancakes.

For those not so keen on pancakes, the chocolate milkshake is highly recommended by a friend — she still refers to it as the best chocolate milkshake in Durham! 

Leonard’s Coffee House

Tucked away down Back Silver Street, this cute café full of fairy lights warms up a day of lectures and essay-writing. The laid-back atmosphere of Leonard’s Coffee House makes for a calming environment to chat with friends in, or work on an assignment. The tables upstairs even have a view overlooking the river, which adds a burst of motivation to any study session. 

Though there is a smaller selection of pancakes to choose from than Flat White Kitchen, they do not disappoint. I had the almond and blueberry pancakes with maple syrup. They tasted divine and my friend, who went for a croissant, regretted not ordering them! The berries had the perfect level of sweetness which didn’t overpower the pancakes themselves. 

Cheaper than Flat White Kitchen, Leonard’s is more of a feasible option for students on a tight budget. Apart from the pancakes, there is a wide selection of cakes on the counter — the blueberry muffin is a particular highlight. The hot chocolate is not to be missed either. 

Waffle On

If pancakes are not your thing, then waffles are an equally delicious alternative. Waffle On is a small place on Saddler Street, not far from Flat White Kitchen, and its bubble waffles are to die for. The hot brownie waffle is insanely good, with the warm brownie and cold ice cream creating the perfect juxtaposition. The staff there are super friendly, contributing to the loveliness of the whole experience. I have been there twice before and will definitely be returning.

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Riverview Kitchen 

As an absolute go-to place for all my brunch needs, Riverview Kitchen is my favourite place for pancakes in Durham. They have a wide range of toppings to suit all tastes and preferences — banoffee, bacon and maple syrup, mixed berry Eton Mess, to name a few. Most importantly, they do incredible lemon and sugar pancakes! It may be a simple combination, but it’s a classic that shouldn’t be overlooked. 

Spoilt for choice, you can have your pancakes American-style, or original. You even have the option of two or four portions — perfect for if you’re in the mood for a light bite, if you’re there to share with your friends, or if you plan on eating to your heart’s content! Riverview also scores 10/10 points for presentation, with each pancake stack looking like a work of art. 

To top it all off, the café is situated directly next to the River Wear, meaning you can enjoy your delicious pancakes alongside a glorious view. And, if you’re a dog-fanatic like me, this dog-friendly café always hosts a range of different dogs, making for a very wholesome brunch experience.  

Treats Café and Tea Room 

Situated along Silver Street, Treats appears deceptively small from the outside, but opens out into a surprisingly large café. Whilst Treats offers a smaller range of pancakes than some, the pancakes are more substantial and are very well priced. 

For the chocoholics, the café meets your sweet tooth needs with their Nutella pancake stack, which is served with fresh strawberries and blueberries. 

If, like me, you much prefer a savoury snack to a sweet one, their American Pancake Breakfast is perfect for you. Topped with a fried egg, a slice of bacon or vegetarian sausage, this dish is much heartier than most sweet pancakes. The side of beans offers an English breakfast feel to the meal, and the pot of maple syrup allows you to Americanise your pancakes some more if you fancy. 

Now you have been given a flavour of the highlights of Durham’s pancake scene, I hope your pancake day will be full of sweetness and syrup to sustain you through the last weeks of term and beyond!

Illustration: Verity Laycock

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