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America Sits Down to Breakfast

Monitor writers report from four cities, coast-to-coast, about the meal that weekend diners love to linger over

New York

The Royal Canadian Pancake House has a reputation for gargantuan portions. Their pancakes are the size of manhole covers.

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The key word here is whimsy.

Take the menu. The Montreal Magic Show, No. 6, delights with fluffy pancakes and delicate raspberries. No. 44 is Northern Lights - a giant cornmeal pancake with potato and Canadian cheddar cheese served with sour cream.

Wait, there's more. Royal Canadian's French toast - or should we say loaf - is challah bread served with your choice of "farm-fresh cream whipped in a frenzy" or sour cream, maple syrup, or honey. The "Calgary Stampede" tramples one with a sirloin steak, two eggs, buttermilk silver-dollar pancakes, and West Canadian roasted potatoes. Then again, you might want to try a trademark "Womlett" - an "omelet dome baked onto a waffle for a most unusual delicious taste served with fresh sour cream and herbs or f arm-fresh whipped cream and powdered sugar."

The restaurant's decor is simple. The entrance is graced with a large black-and-white photo of the owner's (Sheldon Golumbia's) mother driving a tractor on a farm in Winnepeg.

On this particular Sunday morning, the wait is 45 minutes. Inside, the May family tackles their pancakes.

"I think we're going to bronze this sculpture," Mark May jokes, saying that he could make his oat-bran pecan pancakes into weights. "They must weigh 15 pounds!" His daughter Jennifer, 10, wisely chose the chocolate-chip silver dollars, and Mark's wife, Wendy, got banana, kiwi, and strawberry crepes. Mark's sister Fran stares at her leftover raspberry pancakes, still the size of flattened basketballs, and says she'll take them home and freeze them as she has done before.

Leftovers that don't make it to patrons' freezers go to City Harvest, an organization that feeds the hungry.

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Has a plate ever come back clean? According to our waitress, Michelle, eight marathoners, two of whom were women, and two male bodybuilders each finished a plate of the stop-sign-size pancakes.

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