Pancake Social opened at Ponce City Market in late March. Most notably, the all-day breakfast-focused restaurant features a menu from Anne Quatrano, the James Beard Award-winning chef-owner of Bacchanalia, Star Provisions and many other iconic Atlanta food and dining destinations.
The concept was originally the idea of former Chick-fil-A executive Dan Jacobson of Steel Wave Ventures, who partnered with Steven Chan, the founder of Tin Drum Asian Kitchen, and Tony Riffel, the co-founder of Octane Coffee, to put the project together with Quatrano.
The 120-seat space is located steps from the Market’s Central Food Hall. But the tidy brick storefront facing Historic Fourth Ward Park feels a world away, with a decidedly bright and welcoming atmosphere, and both sidewalk patio and indoor dining.
Quatrano collaborated with architect Tim Nichols on the design, which conjures clean and functional Scandinavian elements, including hand-stenciled wood floor tiles, locally made butcher block tabletops, and custom-fabricated light fixtures.
Guests are greeted and order at the beverage bar, which is central to the space and service. There you can grab a cortado, fresh juice blend or smoothie — and soon, beer, wine and cocktails. Seating in the dining room can be configured to accommodate large groups, and there’s more intimate seating at a series of booths.
Pancake Social’s executive chef is Evelyn Ling, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, and most recently the executive sous-chef at Bacchanalia. Ling executes Quatrano’s homey but sophisticated breakfast visions, which, of course, start with several types of pancakes, including the decadent, layer cake-like Big Pecan Praline Stack.
But there are also ancient grain pancakes, a blueberry cottage cheese blintz, and a savory-sweet apple-Gruyere Dutch Baby. And among the sandwiches served on house-made English muffins, you’ll find fried or folded egg with bacon and cheddar, crispy chicken, and the P.S. Burger.
Last week, Quatrano sat down at a long table at Pancake Social with Jacobson, Riffel and Chan to talk about the restaurant.
“The concept is something I’d been thinking about for many years,” Jacobson said. “It’s rooted in my family memories of my dad making these awesome sourdough pancakes, and it’s something I passed down, too. I always wondered why it is that you have such great quality at home, served with love, but when you go out to most breakfast restaurants, it doesn’t quite feel that way.
“I got together with Steven and we talked about it, and when we decided to do it, we brought in Tony, because a lot of this was born out of a passion for great coffee, which was also missing in a lot of breakfast restaurants. We agreed we needed someone to help us with the menu and the food, and that was Anne. Everything you see and you feel as relates to the brand and the menu, and the craft and quality, is all Anne.”
“I didn’t want to do it if it wasn’t a quality menu, which I think you just don’t see for breakfast at too many places, except maybe Buttermilk Kitchen,” Quatrano said. “But we do breakfast, and we like it, so it seemed like something we could try. I think the menu developed with everybody’s input. We wanted things that were both modern and kitschy, and I think we got a good mix.
“We’re very proud of our English muffins and bagels, because we make those ourselves, over at Floataway Cafe, actually. I think they’re great, and that’s something that isn’t often done. I think that our juice program is great, too. We juice everything to order and we try to combine vegetables and fruits so that it’s healthy but also tastes really good. The only thing we can’t give you, yet, is alcohol, but that’s coming any day now.”
“We’ll have beer and wine on tap, with some batched cocktails,” Riffel said. “Our goal with coffee is to make it a simple, approachable program that appeals to everybody, and is on par with the quality of the food here. We picked a coffee blend for this restaurant that stands up to sugar and milk, and complements the dishes we’re serving.”
Summing up the place of Pancake Social in the context of the Atlanta dining scene, Quatrano noted the opening of daytime-only restaurants in other cities.
“Something that’s new across the country and in other markets is the elevation of daytime meals to the point that you do need a chef during the day,” Quatrano said. “And a chef is actually celebrated for the work that they do during the day. One of my favorite restaurants in Los Angeles is Destroyer. It only serves until around four in the afternoon, and the food is awesome, with a lot of technique.”
675 Ponce de Leon Ave NE. Atlanta. 678-609-8696, pancakesocial.com.
Scroll down for more images from a First Look at Pancake Social at Ponce City Market
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