BEST PANCAKES (1999)
There are three large, elderly men who plant themselves in one of Rick's handful of booths once a weekend and gab. The ringleader looks every bit the Marlboro man: biker's vest, white T-shirt with rolled-up sleeves, and a leather hat embossed with Grateful Dead bears. One recent weekend this gent, whom we'll call Gentle Ben, endured endless crap from his cronies by showing up late and explaining that he had arisen at dawn, perused the classifieds, and rushed out to meet with a woman who was selling some kind of rare, valuable tie-dye Beanie Baby octopus. But on to the pancakes. They are plate-sized and oh-so-fluffy. The wild rice cakes are the best for our money, studded with just the right amount of grain to make them nutty and toothsome. The one caveat about Rick's: Get there early or resign yourself to waiting in a long line of folks with bed hair.