Dueling Dishes: Battle Dutch Baby

There's something about a Dutch baby. The grandiose brekkie that draws stares from diners as it makes its way to your table. The poofy circumference height similar to a successful souffle, combined with the sunken base of a lackluster one. Then there are the toppings: syrupy sauces for those seeking sugar, lemon wedges for that puckered contrast, butter for the Paula Deen school of thought, and powdered sugar…because it's there.

This week, we look at two forces known for their sweet babies. In one corner, the cozy gem known simply as Plums. Their competitor, the multi-location carb king, The Original Pancake House. Who will earn bragging rights? Let's duel.

Kim Jorgenson brought Pacific Northwest dining to a tucked away corner of Costa Mesa over two decades ago. With seafood specialties like pan-fried trout and salmon hash, she balanced out the menu by offering yummy berry waffles and their famous deep dish pancake, a.k.a the Dutch baby. The Original Pancake House, on the other hand, is all about flap jacks. Also from Oregon, they offer a dozen ways to quell your cravings. Under their specialties is the elusive Dutch treat.

The 'crust': Behold the golden, croissant-like shade softly framing forkfuls of chewiness at Plums. The sprinkle of powdered sugar forms an ever-so-slight glaze upon its toasty surface. We are talking a thing of beauty. At OPH, it's burnt. Toast is still toast, even when you don't serve it right. But getting burnt Dutch bites taste the same as burnt toast. Burnt. Winner: Plums.

The 'base': This Plums baby has been coaxed, coddled even, to a dual consistency that
remains a pleasant combination of textures on one's taste buds. At
first, it's an airy and chewy border. Plowing into the center is a mild, savory finish of a lightly eggy base. Expanding the Dutch baby at OPH is heavy. Much more eggy than expected, it was like two meals in one: a sweet pastry enveloping an omelet. It's already a lot to chew, but being weighted down by yolks does not settle well at breakfast time (and requires bigger stretchy pants). Winner: Plums.

The price: Plums goes for $12. Original Pancake House: $9.55. Winner: Original Pancake House.

The winner: Plums.

Plums Cafe and Catering, 369 E. 17th St., Costa Mesa, (949) 722-7586; www.plumscafe.com. The Original Pancake House, multiple locations; www.originalpancakehouse.com.

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