Diner Critique: Mother’s Cupboard Diner and Fish Fry (Syracuse, N.Y.)

Review | Written and photographed by Nathan Mattise

Directions | Web site | Overall Rating: 4

Local tradition is inescapable. In Northeastern Pennsylvania, there’s St. Ubaldo Day. In Buffalo, folks just celebrated Dyngus Day. In Syracuse, well, anyday can be legendary as long as it starts with one particular thing…

Mother’s Cupboard pancakes.

I first heard about them from a friend introduced to it through his gig in local TV. If it’s good enough for the crew at Channel 9. it’s good enough for the rest of us Syracusans too.

I rolled the dice and set out for the Cupboard on a Saturday around noon. “Roll the dice,” because 1) there are a total of 6 tables and the counter top seating and 2) they have some of the most limited hours of operation around (6 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. daily). Needless to say, I was lucky enough to get in before closing time and with counter space available (I suppose this review would be delayed otherwise).

The cozy interior is charming despite (and perhaps due to) the lack of space. If you can grab a seat you feel as if you’ve been welcomed into a small cottage common room (the customer photos on the wall probably help that). Camaraderie among customers just happens organically because conversations overlap and your elbows are within inches of literally rubbing with your neighbor’s. You’ll find yourself talking about the food with people beside you and rooting on the folks who try to conquer the mammoth food challenges across the room.

The wait staff works within inches of you and constantly checks in due to the proximity. They’re as quick to refill your coffee as they are to bring out the t-shirt and camera if you finish a signature frittata. You can also reach out and touch the grill from the counter top seating. The front row seat is well worth it so you can watch some of the expert work done by the cook managing the dozens of homefries, pancakes, sausage and eggs all going at once.

But the food is what you come for and it doesn’t disappoint. It’s pretty affordable ( $5.30 for their breakfast platter of two eggs, toast, homefries and choice of meat) and the portions are gigantic. It’s all encompassed in the infamous pancakes. The menu warns “don’t eat two, you’ll hurt yourself,” and it’s a mere $4.50 for one with filling. I had the banana pancake – it’s a foot wide, 113 sq. in. of pancake filled with an entire banana. It’s dense yet each bite is flavorful and surprisingly fluffy. I ate all but three bites of it. Let’s just say the ride home was a total DUI situation (driving under the -itis) and there was no need for dinner for another four hours.

UPDATED: I finished a blueberry one on my second trip! Also, bring cash because I believe Mother’s Cupboard doesn’t accept card.

SECOND UPDATE 6-10-10: Check out this video about the pancakes at Mother’s Cupboard… apparently a destination for Man V. Food’s Adam Richman.

The Final Tab

Pros: Cheap, high novelty factor, huge portions, camaraderie

Cons: Very limited seating, very limited hours

Overall: 4-homefries3

Four out of Five (Pancakes with sides | Some days you’ll seek it out)



Filed under Reviews

3 responses to “Diner Critique: Mother’s Cupboard Diner and Fish Fry (Syracuse, N.Y.)

  1. Adam Biswanger

    Nate, no photos or descriptions can convey the size of that pancake. What a gem.

  2. cool review and pictures!

  3. I like this place but unless you “delete” heavy onions in the homefries.I can’t get my friends to go due to always full at popular times..I think you can sit outside too in the summer

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