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I never would've guessed that my first meal of the year would be at an IHOP. Especially since IHOPs are few and far between around these parts. I'm not even a big fan of pancakes, but I became a victim of suggestion from the first minute I laid my eyes on their pecan pie pancakes commercial.

I had to find an IHOP ASAP, and a New Year's Day excursion to IKEA seemed as good an excuse as any. I promptly checked Yahoo yellow pages for Elizabeth, and whoo hoo, there was an IHOP only one mile away from IKEA, estimated driving time two minutes.

Yeah right. When they say to use the Yahoo maps only as a guide, they're not joking. Apparently the directions from IKEA to IHOP were calculated from a completely different starting point, who knows where. But after a good solid hour of driving around the sketchy bits of Elizabeth, winding here, turning there, we found the goddamn IHOP, nowhere near IKEA and at least 5-10 miles in a totally different direction than pictured.

All this and they didn't even have the pecan pie pancakes. Not that I should've been surprised. Restaurants that are perfectly run of the mill and moderately respectable in the rest of the U.S. are always trash heaps with no regard for advertised specials in print or on TV in the NYC area. You don't even know how much disappointment ensued from the mysterious absence of the "Never Ending Pasta Bowl" on the Time's Square Olive Garden's menu.

IHOP * Elizabeth, NJ

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