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  • A pumpkin waffle at The Bluebird on Bluffton Road. It will be available through Thanksgiving.

  • Plain crepes at The Bluebird on Bluffton Road.

  • Chocolate Scotch Pancakes at The Bluebird on Bluffton Road.

  • Not much has changed in terms of looks at The Bluebird on Bluffton Road since it changed over from being Spyro's.

  • White chicken chili at The Bluebird on Bluffton Road.

  • A pumpkin cappucino at The Bluebird on Bluffton Road.

  • THe Gyro and Two Egg Platter at The Bluebird on Bluffton Road.

  • The Supreme Cheeseburger at The Bluebird on Bluffton Road.

  • Fresh-squeezed orange juice is a treat at The Bluebird on Bluffton Road.

  • When ordering water at The Bluebird on Bluffton Road, a smaller cup was used, which made refills more frequent.

  • Bananas Foster Waffle at The Bluebird on Bluffton Road.

  • The chicken salad platter at The Bluebird on Bluffton Road.

  • The Bluebird has taken roost in the spot that was once Spyro's on Bluffton Road.

  • The menus at The Bluebird on Bluffton Road touted many accomplishments earned by the former restauant, Spyro's, and its owners.

Sunday, November 06, 2016 5:15 pm

Some changes, plenty to praise at Bluebird

Ryan DuVall | Restaurant critic

It was a place I loved and raved about since it opened.

But last year, Spyro’s Pancake House on Bluffton Road was sold to a new owner and got a new name. It was a friendly transaction between the owners of Spyro’s, who were taking a step back and decided that their store on West Jefferson Boulevard was all they wanted to handle.

So when I stepped into The Bluebird for the first time, not much had changed. The menu was pretty much the same, the restaurant looked the same and it was still bustling. But with new owners and a new name, there were bound to be differences.

When I saw that the cover of the menu stated that The Bluebird had received 41/2 stars from me in 2008, four stars last year and was named as one of the best breakfasts in the area by me, I was taken aback. Those raves were for Spyro’s. I had never eaten at The Bluebird.

Turns out, there was still plenty to praise at this breakfast and lunch staple, but it was, indeed, not the same.

My first taste was a familiar and tasty one. The fresh-squeezed orange juice is a must-have. It was tasty offseason and will only get better as oranges get into season.

And the Greek influence is still a big part of the menu. My Two Egg and Gyro Platter was a winner for sure with crispy, thin slices of seasoned gyro meat and a side of tzatziki sauce on a plate with perfectly fried potatoes and a couple of runny eggs. Pairing the eggs, meat and sauce together on top of one of the split, toasted biscuits created a perfect bite.

I considered the gyro meat to be Greek bacon, treating it the same way I would the pork version and loved every morsel of this platter.

I also loved the bevy of sweet, decadent pancake and waffle options that are so hard to choose from and so bad for you.

The new Chocolate Scotch Pancakes featured Bluebird’s fluffy, flavorful hot cakes drizzled with chocolate and butterscotch syrup with mounds of whipped cream all around the plate. There is really nothing more I need to say.

The Bananas Foster Waffle also was good. A crispy waffle was topped with still-firm bananas that had a lot of flavor, caramel sauce and, yes, whipped cream. The sauce was deftly drizzled so it wasn’t overkill, and it was simply fantastic.

A seasonal waffle that will only be around until Thanksgiving was also worth trying. The pumpkin waffle was not overly sweet but had just the right pumpkin pie spice to make it scream fall. I am not a big fan of the pumpkin-spice mania this time of year, but this waffle was worthy of praise.

I paired it with a pumpkin cappuccino, which I also expected to be super sweet, but, again, it was the spices that were the most at play with this drink so it still tasted like a strong cup of coffee. That’s not to say there wasn’t still some sweet naughtiness as it was topped with a big pile of whipped cream and a dash of cinnamon.

I had crepes as a side with one of my meals and here is where one of the glaring differences between Bluebird and its predecessor showed up. The "Plain Crepes" had a strong cinnamon flavor that I did not expect and I didn’t want. They had a nice texture and would have been good cinnamon crepes, but they failed as plain crepes. I never had that issue before with the crepes, which are a favorite of mine.

A lunch item that my wife has always sworn by at Spyro’s also fell short at The Bluebird. The Chicken Salad Platter looked as impressive as always with sliced tomatoes and cucumbers, pineapple, melon wedges, half of a banana, a halved boiled egg and a scoop of cottage cheese, along with a scoop of the salad artfully arranged on the plate. But the chicken salad was dry and under-dressed so it had no flavor.

The Supreme Burger was a much better lunch choice. Its perfectly round patty did not look exciting at first – a good sign it is a frozen product and not fresh beef – but it did have a generous amount of button mushrooms, two slices of perfectly cooked bacon and an oozing blanket of American cheese on top. And it was, in fact, a great-tasting patty. I also loved the side of white chicken chili I paired with it.

It had a loose broth and was more of what I would call a chicken and white bean soup than chili. But its flavor was on point with cilantro and diced jalapeños perfuming the broth nicely. The beans were al dente, the chicken was tender, corn added a little sweetness and I ate every last drop. A warning, however, the jalapeños still had some heat so it might be too spicy for a timid palate.

Although the service at The Bluebird was sketchy, I was allowed to turn the Chicken ’N Skillet – fried potatoes topped with grilled chicken, onions, mushrooms, eggs and cheddar – into a frittata.

Flagged with a bluebird symbol noting it as an "Eat Healthy" selection, it had freshly grilled and juicy chicken, perfect potatoes and plenty of cheese and mushrooms.

Among the service flaws:

• No syrup brought to table when plain pancakes were chosen as a side.

• Neglect on more than one occasion after the food was served and bill was placed on table, so I had to flag someone for simple drink refills. Also when drinking only water, I was given a small juice glass half the size of the soft drink glasses, which added to the problem because it ran out fast.

• No clearing of empty dishes, most notably when the server asked me to move an empty soup bowl and plate from the crowded table to make room for main courses.

Those service miscues were what most separated Bluebird from its predecessor. But that was still not enough to keep me from going back. There is still plenty to like.

Restaurant: The Bluebird

Address: 4410 Bluffton Road

Phone: 478-4976

Hours: 6 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. Sunday

Cuisine: American

Handicapped accessible: Yes

Alcohol: None

Credit cards: Yes

Kid-friendly: Yes

Menu: Orange juice ($2 small; $3.35 large), chicken salad platter ($7.45), chocolate scotch or bananas foster topping ($3.25), waffles ($4.75), pancakes ($4.95 full stack; $4.25 short), crepes ($4.65), supreme burger ($7.25), Chicken ‘N Skillet ($8.25)

Rating breakdown: Food: *1/2 (3-star maximum); atmosphere: 1/2 (1 maximum), service: 1/2 (1 maximum)

Ryan DuVall is a restaurant critic for The Journal Gazette. This review is based on two unannounced visits. The Journal Gazette pays for all meals. Email him at rduvall@jg.net; call at 461-8130. DuVall’s past reviews can be found at www.journalgazette.net. You can follow him on Twitter @DiningOutDuvall.