Pancakes

Pumpkin pancakes at the Granite Rock Grill in Rocklin, Calif.

Diane De Filipi photo

Finding myself temporarily in a new neighborhood during the current local challenges — I, like many, had to flee my home during the fires — I am discovering new things.

One was a local dining establishment in Rocklin, Calif. where I am staying with my daughter.

My daughter suggested we take a break and go out to brunch. She suggested several local spots, but since my brain has a been a bit mushy lately, I turned all the decision making back over to her.

We landed at an eclectic spot called Granite Rock Grill.

When I asked my daughter how she discovered this out-of-the-way locale, she told me she was driving by and noticed people lined up to get in.

Larger than it appears from the outside, the dining areas are over-sized and well spaced for comfortable seating.

Mingled and assorted decor differs from wall to wall, yet somehow it all works.

Our server “Jill From The Grill” was a little dynamo and a hoot.

Lots of great options on the breakfast-lunch menu, and she guided us through with colorful personal recommendations.

These folks live to say “yes” or offer great suggestions diners might not feel comfortable asking for. When I asked Jill if country fried potatoes or the hash browns would be my best choice she simply said she give me both and would be sure the hash browns were nice and crispy on the outside, like she likes them.

Portions are truck-stop plentiful. Need a doggie bag? No problem; and they’ll be sure to give you extra sausage gravy to cover those giant travel home biscuits. I don’t even like gravy most of the time — yes it’s true — but this was a whole different kind of gravy.

My portion of chicken-fried steak covered half my plate. Breaded, tender and crispy, it was not fried in heavy oil, fried on the grill. Perfect. Not wanting to insult Jill with my gravy phobia I asked for it on the side and after tasting for the purposes of my review I shocked myself and kept dipping my bites into it.

The staff has coffee radar. Without hovering, they read your mind and know when you need a warmer.

You need Eggs Benedict? They’ve got it. Spicy options galore. Grits, no problem. The grits critic in our party was a happy guy.

House-made berry jams and orange marmalade, terrific. Even better, you can purchase it in Mason jars for home.

If you want to add some heat to what you’ve ordered, just go over to the Firecracker Station and select your volume from the 40 or so options.

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If you forgot your reading glasses and you’d like to enjoy an area newspaper with your coffee, no worries because they have loaners.

Jill also shared that if your hubby gets bored there’s an Etch-a-Sketch and some other games to keep him entertained.

The atmosphere reminded me of “Cheers.” Dishes on the menu are named for the regulars who always order their favorite, and when a man named Vern walked in, he was greeted with a big personal welcome.

Finishing our last sips of coffee and gathering our leftovers, my daughter made a comment about how she wished she’d had room to add a pancake to her order because she recalled them being awfully good.

Timing things perfectly Jill cruised by the table and insisted that we try their pumpkin spice pancakes, on her. Tempted but with full stomachs, we politely declined. Too good to pass up, Jill said.

Jill doesn’t even like pumpkin pie, she told us, but the pancakes are a different deal, so she disappeared to he kitchen and returns with one large pumpkin spice pancake, topped with an American flag. Whipped butter, real maple syrup and chopped walnuts on the side so we could enjoy a sampling. Again, Jill From The Grill was spot on. Not just good, but really really good with just the perfect hint of spice.

The moral of my story? If your are anywhere near 5140 Pacific St., Rocklin, on your travels and it’s time for breakfast or lunch, do yourself a high favor and stop in.

Don’t forget to pick up your Tootise Pop on your way out. Jill says it’s OK, even if you don’t clean your plate.

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