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Breakfast with a history at The Lion House Pantry

Published March 21, 2012 4:09 pm

Dining • Drawing on history, pantry now serves breakfast.
This is an archived article that was published on sltrib.com in 2012, and information in the article may be outdated. It is provided only for personal research purposes and may not be reprinted.

When Brigham Young lived in the home at 63 E. South Temple — now The Lion House — the Mormon leader and his very large family probably enjoyed sourdough pancakes for breakfast.

This week, The Lion House Pantry has decided to bring back that pioneer tradition.

The cafeteria-style restaurant in the lower level of the historical building is now serving breakfast weekdays from 7 to 10:30 a.m. Its signature offering is sourdough pancakes made from a starter that dates back to the pioneers.

"The pancakes are the same recipe that my family uses," said Executive Chef David Bench, whose great-great-great-great grandmother, Martha Robinson Blackam, came across the plains in 1856 with the Martin Handcart Co. The company is well-known in Mormon pioneer history because so many members perished during a treacherous snowstorm in the rugged mountains of Wyoming.

Blackam's son Jack "was already in Salt Lake," said Bench, "and was one of the people that Brigham Young sent out to rescue the company."

The family's sourdough starter probably didn't make it through the ordeal, but it did start shortly thereafter and has been passed down through the generations.

"Whenever we would go deer hunting or pheasant hunting we would sleep over at my grandmother's house and she would make her sourdough pancakes," said Bench, who grew up in Moroni. The "heavy, chewy moist pancakes" kept the hunters full for hours.

In addition to sourdough pancakes, The Pantry also is offering a unique crème brûlée French toast using its famous Lion House rolls baked with eggs and a gooey caramel sauce. Other breakfast items on the a la carte menu include sausage, bacon, scrambled eggs, potatoes and oatmeal. All items are $1.59 each.

Beatty Stearman and Lavonai Na'a, who work in the Mormon office buildings nearby, were among the first to try the breakfast buffet on Monday.

Na'a declared the crème brûlée French toast "absolutely delicious" and Stearman is happy to have a new place for her morning meal.

"We're always looking for new breakfast options," she said.

Ironically, The Pantry's breakfast service kicked off the same week as the opening of the new City Creek Center across the street. Even though Bench claims that was not the impetus.

I've always thought that we should serve the tourists and employees in surrounding office buildings a simple, fast, homestyle breakfast," he said. And because of the tradition, the menu had to include old-fashioned sourdough pancakes. "No one else does sourdough pancakes anymore."

kathys@sltrib.com

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Now serving breakfast

For the first time in its history, The Lion House Pantry is serving breakfast. Specialties include sourdough pancakes, made from a pioneer starter; and creme brulee French toast made from the popular Lion House dinner rolls.

Where • The Lion House Pantry, 63 E. South Temple, Salt Lake City

When • Weekdays, 7 to 10:30 a.m.

Cost • All breakfast items are $1.59 each. A la carte menu also includes bacon, sausage, scrambled eggs, breakfast potatoes and oatmeal.

Details • Regular lunch and dinner service continues as usual from 11 a.m. to 8 p.m.

Info • 801-539-3257