Berks County is blessed with roads.
Lost in the complaints about potholes and the seemingly endless construction projects is the fact that Berks County has one of the best networks of roads in the state.
There are no two points in the county that are separated by more than an hour’s drive.
Yet the city of Reading becomes a roadblock for cross-county travel. For those of us living on the west side of town, places like Boyertown and Douglassville can feel like an eternity away.
One look at the Berks County Eats map shows that my trips to the “other side” have been few and far between. Part of it is the incredible dining options west of the city, but there is a part of me (the Pennsylvania Dutch part) that keeps me from wandering too far from home.
One of the few eastern Berks County restaurants I have frequented is Michael’s Restaurant in Douglassville.
Just two miles from the Montgomery County line, Michael’s Restaurant is your typical diner. A pair of dining rooms flanks the long lunch counter just inside the doors. A row of booths sits against the wall opposite the counter, each one equipped with a small jukebox filled with songs from the “Now That’s What I Call Music” series. I’m not brave enough to drop a quarter in to see if they actually work.
Michael’s menu is expansive, eight full pages plus daily specials, so there are always going to be hits and misses when you’re serving that many dishes. That’s why I always stick to the Sautéed Specials page.
The Sautéed Specials includes Asian-inspired stir-fry, Italian pasta dishes and unique creations, each one mixing meat with vegetables, sauce and either pasta or rice, all for between $10-14.
A trip to the soup and salad bar is included with all of these sautés (those without pasta also get an additional vegetable). Though not the best or biggest salad bar in Berks County, Michael’s does offer two kinds of soup and a rainbow of salad ingredients.
On my most recent trip, I opted for one of the more original sautés: chicken tossed with spinach, white beans and bow-tie pasta in a light cream sauce.
My dish had a beautiful presentation, and everything in it was really good (the flavor of the spinach really came through, and there was more than enough to ensure some in every bite). The only downside to the dish is that instead of coming together as one dish, it was more like a collection of individual items than a true sauté.
The same held true for my wife’s sauté, which included chicken, broccoli and pierogies over angel hair pasta. Though everything in it was very good, I can’t help but think that it would have been better served as a pasta entree with broccoli and pierogies on the side.
I enjoy Michael’s for what it is – a family restaurant at a convenient location with good food for reasonable prices.
It’s also a marker on the right side of the map, the first of many trips to the “other side” of Berks County.