Reviewer’s Note: Samples of the products discussed here were provided to me for reviewing purposes at no cost.
My most recent sampling of several varieties of Kerbey Lane Cafe Pancake Mix introduced me to a company with which I was previously unfamiliar, which is one of the most welcome aspects of reviewing products. For those as uninitiated as I was, Kerbey Lane Cafe is an Austin, Texas-based restaurant franchise that is open 24 hours a day, seven days a week, with an eclectic menu of American and Southwestern fare (including the most extensive collections of Vegan and Gluten-free menu offerings I’ve observed in recent memory.) The pancake mixes that I received came to me in a variety of ambitious flavors like Pumpkin, Apple Cinnamon Whole Wheat, and Gingerbread in addition to the more standard Buttermilk. The Apple Cinnamon and Gingerbread mixes are also available in Gluten-free form.
It bears mentioning that printed upon each box of mix are one to two recipes for foods that the contents can be used to prepare, typically by baking. For example, the Pumpkin mix, combined with a measured quantity of eggs and sugar, can also be used to bake a pumpkin loaf. Adding eggs and sugar to the Gingerbread variety will yield ginger snap cookies. The Apple Cinnamon mix can be used to make muffins, and so on. So I have to give Kerbey Lane Cafe high marks for product versatility.
Given the number of usage possibilities, this review took me a bit longer than usual to write, as before doing so, I wanted to thoroughly explore all of this product’s potential. So I baked cookies. I baked pumpkin bread. I stacked pancakes of every flavor. In most cases, I made at least two passes at each recipe, to ensure that any perceived flaws should not be attributable to my having mismanaged the directions. So believe me when I say I did my due diligence on this one. But if I am to deliver the honesty that I promised when I began reviewing products back in 2010, then I can’t say that I came away from this sampling experience feeling excited about the product. While it was never unpleasant, it did not leave an impression on my palate that I would describe as notable or memorable.
The flavored mixes, though intensely aromatic in both batter and cooked form, didn’t fulfill the flavor promises carried in their respective fragrances. For example, in the case of the Apple Cinnamon pancakes, essences of apple and cinnamon that one could taste seemed almost a footnote; present, but only faintly so. The gingerbread cookies that I prepared followed likewise, with the taste of gingerbread taking a backseat to the general sugariness one would expect any cookie to embody. Despite flavors like pumpkin, apples, and gingerbread tending to be fairly overt in whatever foods they are found in, their presences in these mixes never seemed to find the full expression for which they so earnestly strived. The result of their failing to claim the taste forefront was that my initial perception upon having the foods touch my tongue was never “pumpkin-flavored pancake” or “ginger-flavored cookie” but ended up being “pancake, with light pumpkin essence” or “sugar cookie, mildly scented with gingerbread.”
The mix that delivered best on its promise was the Buttermilk. The pancakes I made with it came out light and fluffy, and tasted quite good, but were otherwise unremarkable in the context of the eating experience that I would expect a pancake to provide.
Let me be clear: None of the above is intended to convey that I suffered bad eating experiences with this product line; I certainly did not. I merely had ones that as much as I would like to and had hoped to, I cannot rave unreservedly about. They were simply, as much as the word irritates me when applied in the context in which I’m about to use it, “Okay.”
Having said that, I must state that Kerbey Lane Café Pancake mixes also possess some pros. They are quickly and easily prepared, making them an adequate-to-good substitute for making pancakes from scratch when hungry stomachs are rumbling and busy schedules leave little time for lengthy kitchen endeavors. Retailing at approximately five to six dollars per one-pound box on the Kerbey Lane Cafe website, they are fairly inexpensive. They are adaptable to a variety of forms of preparation, meaning that in purchasing one box of this product, one isn’t just purchasing pancakes, but also cookies, muffins, bread, and more. But speaking only for myself (and recognizing the largely subjective nature of individual preferences,) the product unfortunately just didn’t come together in the end like I hoped it would.