Sonoma's Big 3 Diner lemon pancakes

Sonoma's Big 3 Diner's Lemon Pancakes | Heather Irwin

From Santa Rosa’s greasy spoons to divine diners, there’s not shortage of hotcake flippers in Wine Country. BiteClub susses out some of the best pancakes around…

Weekday mornings are a blur of sack lunches, misplaced gym clothes and races against the school bell. By definition, they’re Cheerios and frozen waffle days, with an occasional overly ambitious egg sandwich tucked into a backpack. Anything involving a recipe or frying pans is, frankly, out of the question.

The jig’s up on Saturday. Tiny, slippered feet pad into my bedroom at 8am with uncanny predictability and two small voices demand what’s been denied for five unbearable days — pancakes. Resistance is futile.
And more often than not, I can be strong-armed into pulling out the flour, sugar and milk to whip up a batch from scratch. Mother’s guilt.

Even better, though, when someone else stands behind the grill and washes up afterwards.

Lemon love: Sonoma’s Big 3 Diner elevates low-brow diner classics to spa-set grandeur. Ritzy Fairmont guests and locals jostle for weekend tables and the restaurant’s signature Lemon Cottage Cheese Pancakes topped with creme fraiche. 18140 Highway 12, Sonoma, (707) 939-2410. Recipe

Totally corny: Hallie’s is where Petalumans line up for breakie standards with a Latin twist. Homemade corncakes are polenta-soft inside and get a kick from a side of Cajun sausage. 125 Keller St., Petaluma,
(707) 773-1143.

The standard: There’s a reason Hank’s Creekside always has a crowd at the door — the pancakes. Made from scratch (many breakfast spots use a pre-made mix), they’re steamier than a romance novel (and way more satisfying). 2800 4th St., Santa Rosa, (707) 575-8839.

More pancake spots to check out:
Dierk’s Parkside Cafe: 404 Santa Rosa Avenue, Santa Rosa, 707-573-5955
Garden Court Cafe: 13647 Arnold Dr, Glen Ellen, (707) 935-1565
Cookhouse: 327 S. A St., Santa Rosa, (707) 526-2689
Carlos’ Country Kitchen: 90 W College Ave, Santa Rosa
Sam’s For Play: 2630 Cleveland Ave, Santa Rosa
East West Cafe: 128 N Main St, Sebastopol and 557 Summerfield Rd., Santa Rosa

BIG 3 DINER’S LEMON-COTTAGE CHEESE PANCAKES
Serving size: 8
Preparation time: 20 minutes

5 lemons — zest and juice
6 whole eggs, separated
1 cup powered sugar
1 cup all-purpose flour (approximately)
1 pint low-fat cottage cheese
½ pound clarified butterMix lemon juice, lemon zest, egg yolks, cottage cheese and powdered sugar.
Mix in flour.
Add clarified butter.
Whip egg whites to soft / medium peaks. Fold whites into batter.
Cook pancakes on a greased griddle to desired firmness.
Serve garnished with crème fraîche, a thinly sliced lemon twist and powdered sugar.