What happens when you take the fluffiest banana pancakes you can conjure, spread them with Nutella and peanut butter buttercream, top that with candied bacon and peanuts and then drizzle the whole thing with bourbon-infused maple syrup?
Good things. Really good things.
At first glance, the dish, new on the menu at Whetstone Tavern, might seem over the top. But once you once you cut into the thick stack and start eating them, the ingredient list that seemed ridiculous begins to make perfect sense. Yes, executive chef Eric Leveillee knew what he was doing, you’ll find yourself thinking as you scoop up another forkful of light cake and hot fruit and nutty cream and tangy syrup and salty meat.
Whetstone co-owner Jeremy Nolen obviously saw something special in Leveillee, whom he promoted to the top spot at the Queen Village restaurant earlier this month.
The promotion is especially notable because the 30 year old from Rhode Island even hasn’t been in the food biz for very long. He fell into it after graduating from Temple with an economics degree, and for a while didn’t take cooking seriously, though he enjoyed working at celebrated kitchens like Vernick Food & Drink and Johnny Brenda’s. It was at Whetstone, though, where Leveille really hit his stride.
He connected well with Nolen and proprietor Doug Hager, and was able to translate their whims into dishes that customers also love. Case in point is these “Drunken Monkey Pancakes,” which came about after Hager asked for something with bourbon, something with Nutella and something with peanut butter.
“I decided to put them all in one dish!” Leveillee said, citing Elvis Presley as inspiration (the King famously loved to eat peanut butter, bacon and banana sandwiches).
Check out the video of how he makes this crowd pleaser, and do take note of how Leveillee hand-whips the egg whites before they’re folded into the batter — that’s what makes the flapjacks so fluffy.
The full recipe is below if you want to try making them at home, but remember that key step. If you don’t feel like putting in the effort, just head to Whetstone at Fifth and Bainbridge on any weekend morning.
Drunken Monkey Pancakes
by chef Eric Leveillee at Whetstone Tavern
4 c all purpose flour
1 tbsp + 1 tsp baking powder
¾ c sugar
1 tsp kosher salt
6 eggs, separated
3 c whole milk
¾ c melted butter
1 tsp vanilla extract
2 bananas, sliced
Scoop of cold butter, if desired
Combine all ingredients except egg whites and banana. Whisk egg whites to medium peaks. Fold into batter.
Ladle onto hot grill in four parts. Drop banana slices into each pancake. When bottoms are golden brown, flip. When second side is cooked, remove from griddle onto plate.
Spread first pancake with Nutella icing (see below), place on new plate. Spread second pancake with peanut butter icing (see below), place on top of first. Spread Nutella on third pancake, place on stack and top with last pancake. Add scoop of butter, if desired, then drizzle with candied bacon and bourbon maple syurp (see below).
Nutella thinned with cream or water to a spreadable consistency
Peanut butter buttercream icing
4 c peanut butter
1 c butter (softened)
1 c whole milk
3 c confectioners sugar
1 tsp salt
Whip in stand mixer
Candied bacon and bourbon-bacon maple syrup
Cut bacon into lardons. Render over low heat. Drain off excess fat. Add maple syrup and reduce. Add bourbon and cook off alcohol. Strain and reserve bacon and syrup separately.