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The Fat Stack of pancakes is an item on Aretha Frankenstein's menu.

This story was updated on Feb. 24, 2020.

Wednesday is Ash Wednesday, the beginning of Lent, which means the day before is Shrove Tuesday, when we are inclined to rabidly consume the foods we may be giving up for Lent.

Shrove Tuesday is the customary feast day before beginning Lent, the 40 days (not including Sundays) leading up to Easter that are traditionally a time of fasting. The observance is also known as Pancake Day, named for an old English custom of using up all the fattening ingredients in the house before those 40 days of sacrifice. The most common fattening ingredients of the time were eggs and milk. Add flour and sugar, and — voila! — pancakes.

Shrove Tuesday is typically celebrated in the United Kingdom, Ireland, Australia and Canada. In other countries, including the United States and France, the day is more likely known as Mardi Gras, which translates into English as Fat Tuesday, the "fat" a similar reminder to use up fattening foods before Lent.

So what's shrove got to do with it? Shrove is the past tense of shrive, which means to gain absolution of sins by confession and repentance. Such self-examination was the usual practice in Europe during the Middle Ages. On Shrove Tuesday, Anglo-Saxon Christians went to confession and were "shriven" (absolved) of their sins.

That's a far cry from Mardi Gras, which has come to be known for raucous celebration. According to historians, Mardi Gras has its roots in the pagan Roman celebration of Lupercalia. The February holiday honoring the Roman god of fertility involved feasting, drinking and carnal behavior.

But as www.Catholic.org explains: " with the rise of the Church in ancient Rome, Christian teaching and morals took root, but there always remained a strong need to blend ancient Roman traditional practices with the growing Christian faith. The blending of tradition with new religious beliefs was a common practice in the ancient world, and it helped people to transition away from paganism."

So concludes our brief but hunger-inducing history lesson.

Maybe it's time to dig in to a few places around Chattanooga where you can find pancakes if you don't want to make them at home.

 

21 PLACES TO EAT PANCAKES IN CHATTANOOGA

By no means definitive, this list of places around Chattanooga will help get you started on your search for pancakes, from buttermilk standards to flavor-packed indulgences.

» Adelle's Creperie: 400 E. Main St.

You won't find the word pancake on the menu, but crepes, if you didn't know, are actually thin pancakes. Adelle's serves its 16-inch savory and sweet versions with fillings that range from ham and cheese to strawberries and Nutella. 

The London's Calling, a crepe sprinkled with sugar and a squeeze of fresh lemon juice, will be sold for just $2. 

» Aretha Frankensteins: 518 Tremont St.

Plenty of places serve pancakes, but this Chattanooga restaurant actually sells its Insanely Great Pancake Mix in grocery stores and online. It's the same formula used to make the scratch pancakes in-house.

» Beast + Barrel: 16 Frazier Ave.

Slices of fresh banana and hot buttered rum syrup add flavor to Banana Pancakes on the brunch menu.

» Bluegrass Grill: 55 E. Main St.

Try the buttermilk or honey-wheat flavors in a short stack of two or full stack of four. Sides and toppings include eggs, meat, seasonal fruit, whipped cream and real maple syrup.

» The Blue Plate: 191 Chestnut St.

The combination of chicken and waffles gets a lot of buzz, but this metropolitan diner surprises with a Chicken & Pancake option, served with hot maple syrup and loaded hash browns. Or scale down to the Pancake Plate, two pancakes served with bacon or sausage.

» Broad Street Grille: 1201 S. Broad St.

Need a gluten-free version of buttermilk pancakes? They're on the breakfast menu at this restaurant inside The Chattanoogan hotel.

» City Cafe: Multiple locations

Options range from standard, such as Buttermilk Pancakes and Pecan Pancakes, to standout, including Chocolate Chocolate Chip Pancakes, made with chocolate batter, and German-Style Potato Pancakes, served with applesauce and sour cream.

» Cracker Barrel: Multiple locations

There are at least six variations here, with three buttermilk pancakes leading the way with options of pecan, wild Maine blueberries and a choice of fruit toppings as add-ins, plus a warm bottle of syrup.

» Daily Ration: 1220 Dartmouth St.

The menu offers two options Monday through Friday: Flapjacks, three buttermilk pancakes topped with whipped butter and bourbon maple syrup, and Blueberry Flaps, three blueberry pancakes with a blueberry compote. For weekend brunch, try the Tiramisu Flaps, served with honey, espresso mascarpone and organic chocolate sauce.

» First Watch: Multiple locations

Among the options at this breakfast, brunch and lunch favorite is the Lemon Ricotta Pancake, which adds fresh, whipped ricotta cheese to the multigrain batter, topping it off with marinated berries and creamy lemon curd. Other out-of-the ordinary offerings include Banana Crunch Pancakes and Carrot Cake Pancakes. Or go the more traditional route with blueberries or chocolate chips.

» FoodWorks: 205 Manufacturers Road

The weekend brunch menu offers a rotating selection of Seasonal Pancakes, prepared with seasonal ingredients and served with pepper bacon and a choice of brunch potatoes or fruit.

» Huddle House: Multiple locations

The chain boasts Sweet Cakes, otherwise known as "pancakes perfected," a recipe "too good to just call it a pancake," according to the menu. You can stick with the basic Old-Fashioned Buttermilk variety, or try Butter Pecan Praline, Oreo Cookie Crunch, Strawberries & Cream, Wild Blueberry, Chocolate Chip Fix, Southern Pecan or Cinnamon Unrolled.

» IHOP: Multiple locations

It's safe to say that a place known as the International House of Pancakes knows a thing or two about pancakes. Their options range from conventional (short or full stack buttermilk pancakes) to healthful (Harvest Grain N Nut) to decadent (Belgian Dark Chocolate Mousse Pancakes). And that's just for starters. But what really distinguishes IHOP from the competition is the chain's dedication to Free Pancake Day, when guests may partake in a short stack of three pancakes at no charge, with the hope that they'll donate the cost of their meal (or more) to Children's Miracle Network Hospitals. This year's Free Pancake Day is Tuesday, Feb. 25. 

» Longhorn Restaurant: 129 N. Market St.

Not to be confused with the steakhouses of the same name, this North Shore landmark offers breakfast anytime, with plain or blueberry pancakes among the selections.

» Puckett's Grocery & Restaurant: 2 W. Aquarium Way

The Southern Stack Breakfast Skillet goes distinctly Southern with two sweet potato pancakes layered with pulled pork, fried apples and a sunny-side-up egg on a bed of home fries. The Leiper's Fork Favorite Breakfast Platter offers two buttermilk or 12-grain pancakes, two eggs, bacon or sausage.

» State of Confusion: 301 E. Main St.

The variation here is Johnny Cake, a cornmeal pancake baked in cast iron. Have it the traditional way or a version that incorporates blueberries and Greek yogurt.

» Syrup and Eggs: The Dwell Hotel, 120 E. 10th St.

Vegan pancakes are a mainstay on the menu, with options that include Orange You Glad It's Poppy Pancakes, Blue Cornmeal Taco Pancakes and "wild weekly" special stacks.

» Table South: 2 Carter Plaza

Buttermilk Pancakes and Nutella and Banana Pancakes are on the breakfast menu at this eatery inside the Chattanooga Marriott hotel.

» Track's End: 3435 Amnicola Highway

Get a two- or three-stack at this 24-hour restaurant. The only quibble? The pancakes are mundanely listed in the selection of a la carte items, sides and extras, unlike the egg dishes (Brakeman, Loaded Locomotive) and Boxcar Burgers (Conductor, Iron Horse) that have cool train-themed names.

» Tupelo Honey: 1110 Market St.

Sweet potato pancakes are on the brunch menu here, including the Shoo Mercy plate, which pairs them with buttermilk fried chicken, apple cider bacon, spiced pecans, two sunny-side-up eggs, grilled seasonal fruit and pickled blueberries.

» Wally's: 1600 McCallie Ave. and 6521 Ringgold Road

It's the rare place that offers a single pancake for the lighter appetite, but it's on the menu at these Chattanooga landmarks (open since 1937 downtown and since 1989 in East Ridge), along with options for two and three pancakes, served with or without bacon, sausage or ham.

Contact Lisa Denton at ldenton@timesfreepress.com or 423-757-6281.

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