When I needed to refresh my memory of Tilikum Place Cafe's Dutch baby, I ordered the puffed-up pancake to-go, a decision that apparently distressed the kitchen. "They said it's not going to look very good," a server told me apologetically. But she assured me the flavors wouldn't suffer from being folded into a cardboard box.
The taste was intact, as was the incredible aroma of freshly cooked eggs, chorizo and roasted pepper. I felt I stood a pretty good chance of attracting hungry hangers-on while biking back to the office.
Tilikum is a Dutch baby specialist, but the dish was locally famous long before the charming restaurant opened in 2008. Sunset Magazine in 1960 featured a Dutch baby creation story set at the corner of Second and Cherry.
As his descendents tell it, Victor Manca of Manca's Cafe was notorious for inventing recipes, and in the early 20th century fashioned a version of the German apfelpfannkuchen that his daughter renamed "Dutch baby." The Sunset story, published a few years after the restaurant's closing, popularized the Dutch baby concept.
Like many dishes with just enough binder to keep its eggs together - think cheese souffle or matzoh brei - the best Dutch babies taste airy and golden. Tilikum classifies its chorizo-studded Dutch baby as savory, but it's the same sort of savory as a bacon waffle: The baby's served with maple syrup that melts into its blistered gobbets and folds, creating a soft sweetness that's delicious no matter how the dish looks.