Long-time Shillington restaurant closes and more Berks Food News

Shillington’s Your Place closes

Your Place, a Shillington staple for three decades, has closed its doors. The Reading Eagle reported about the closing in its January 23 issue. The restaurant cited a decline in business as the reason for the closing. The completion of the Route 222 bypass started the downturn and the construction of a Walgreen’s ultimately led to Your Place shutting down, according to the article. Your Place still operates locations in Lancaster, Mechanicsburg, Harrisburg and Hershey.

Children’s Home of Reading sponsoring cooking competition

The Children’s Home of Reading is holding a benefit cooking competition tomorrow night (Wednesday, January 28) at the Crowne Plaza in Wyomissing. The “So You Think You Can Cook” competition invites 35 community leaders to test their culinary prowess as they make their best tailgate dishes. The event begins at 6 p.m. Tickets are $40 and include a sampling of dishes, two drinks and an opportunity to vote for the winner. Visit www.childrenshomeofrdg.org for more information.

A-Treat ceases production

A-Treat Soda has stopped production after more than 100 years of operation. A-Treat, a local favorite that operated out of the Lehigh Valley, abruptly closed its plants last Friday. The company put this short note on their website:

EFFECTIVE JANUARY 23, 2015 A-TREAT HAS SHUT DOWN PRODUCTION AFTER ALMOST 100 YEARS. All of us here at A-Treat.com would like to thank our customers for shopping with us since our web site started. Your loyalty was appreciated.

The company recently lost its Wal-Mart distributorship, which is believed to been a factor in the decision.

Food News

Chicken Supreme

chicken-supreme

Fried chicken may be the ultimate comfort food.

It’s fast and filling, a relatively inexpensive offering that appears on menus across the country in some way, shape or form.

But very few of those restaurants take a simple pleasure like fried chicken and build their business around it.

Chicken Supreme in West Reading doesn’t just serve fried chicken, the restaurant specializes in it.

Like many main street restaurants, Chicken Supreme is shoehorned into a small space. The pick-up counter takes up most of the space, with limited seating at a raised counter along the side wall. Not the best place in town for a sit-down meal, but it works great for a menu built on take-out items.

The restaurant is also home to Sammy’s Steaks and manages Mulligan’s Fish Fry and Seafood at Green Dragon Market so the menu includes cheese steaks, crab cakes, oyster sandwiches and fried fish. But it is the chicken that takes top billing with fried breasts, thighs, drumsticks and tenders, served in dinner combos and boxes of eight to 32 pieces. They also have fried hot wings, sold in quantities from six to 100.

chicken-supreme-two-breast-dinner

As a white meat fan, I opted for the two-breast dinner, served with fries, coleslaw and a dinner roll. The chicken must have gone right from the fryer to my box because a small puddle of oil had developed on the Styrofoam.

The white meat shown through the dark, crispy skin. There was no light, flaky breading to hide it. The wetness from the deep-fried bath left my hands dripping after every bite of the greasy goodness. Inside the box was also a small packet of Ocean Spray cranberry sauce, about the size of a jelly packet you would find at a diner. I took full advantage of it, dipping pieces of meat in it as if I were enjoying a holiday meal.

chicken-supreme-coleslaw

While my hunger would have been satisfied with just the chicken, I managed to also polish off the fries. They were the battered kind, the ones that just slide down with little effort. The final piece of my meal was the coleslaw, very creamy with finely chopped cabbage. Unfortunately most of it became sacrificed so I could finish the rest of my meal.

chicken-supreme-two-piece-dinner

Julie is more of a dark meat fan than I so she opted for the standard two-piece dinner with a thigh and a drum. With less meat on her plate than my own, she was able to finish off her dinner (though I helped with a few fries).

Together, the two meals cost about $17. The great part about Chicken Supreme’s menu is that the price includes tax so there’s no guess work in the final cost.

There’s nothing fancy about Chicken Supreme, but there shouldn’t be. That’s not what it’s about. Fried chicken is comfort food, and comfort food is about simplicity and it’s about flavor.

That’s what Chicken Supreme excels at.

BCE Rating
Food: Good
Service: Good
Ambiance: Fair
Price: Very Reasonable

Chicken Supreme
410 Penn Ave
West Reading, PA 19611

Chicken Supreme on Urbanspoon

Lunch & Dinner Reviews

Food & Festivals: Reading Fire + Ice Fest

reading-fire-ice-festivalThis past weekend, the Reading Downtown Improvement District presented the first annual Reading Fire + Ice Fest, a combination indoor/outdoor festival that featured three days of events in and around Penn Square. I make it a habit to support as many local festivals as I can, which is why I braved the sub-freezing temperatures and headed downtown on Saturday for the Fire + Ice Fest.

The highlight for food-lovers had to be the Chili cook-off. Seven area restaurants and two individuals brought the fire to an icy Saturday afternoon, all competing to win the favor of both the judges (a team of Reading firefighters) and festival-goers.

fire-ice-festival-chili-cook-off

The competitors were set up inside the ballroom of the Abraham Lincoln Hotel, a beautiful (and thankfully warm) venue. It’s a place that probably sees more filet mignon and hors d’oeuvres than bowls of meat and beans.

fire-ice-festival-peanut-bar

First in line was the offering from Jimmie Kramer’s Peanut Bar. This was one of the chunkier of the chili that I tried, with a heavy emphasis on the tomato. Through it all, there was a distinct taste of balsamic vinegar that came through, giving it a flavor that was far different from all of the others, and one that I greatly enjoyed.

Callowhill Cafe Coffee Shop would have been the next stop in the rotation, but by the time I arrived, the table was already bare.

fire-ice-festival-mi-casa-su-casa

Instead, my second stop was the Mi Casa Su Casa stand. Mi Casa Su Casa made the bold choice to go with a white chicken chili instead of a more traditional beef and bean. The chili had a cauliflower and white bean base with carrots, celery and other vegetables mixed in. In this case, different was better as the restaurant provided a dish that truly stood out.

fire-ice-festival-abe-lincoln

With the event in its own building, the Abraham Lincoln Hotel brought their own chili, along with several topping options and a tortilla chip. What set this chili apart was the sauce, which carried a strong barbecue flavor.

fire-ice-festival-boscovMy next stop was Boscov’s Catering. The chili was good, delicious, but nothing to really make it stand out from the rest. The best part of this was the homemade tortilla chip that it was served with it.

fire-ice-festival-judy-sAnother restaurant that opted to be different was Judy’s on Cherry, who went with a pork and black bean chili with a dollop of sour cream on top. The large chunk of pork was tender and delicious, but with a very brothy sauce, it ate more like a soup than a true chili.

fire-ice-festival-sofrito

Sofrito Gastro Pub‘s chorizo chili was probably the hottest one that I tasted during the event. It featured a heavy dose of hot peppers. To help cool it off, the chili was served with homemade coconut bread croutons that really complemented the dish.

fire-ice-festival-kauffmanOne of two non-restaurants to enter the competition, the Kauffman family (no relation to Kauffman’s Bar-B-Que Chicken) who came with their own version of the white chicken chili. It was good, but I thought it was just a tad over-spiced and couldn’t compete with Mi Casa Su Casa’s white chili.

The second of the independents was Lauren Kessler, who, like Callowhill Cafe, had already run out of chili by the time I arrived. It’s a shame because the “Three Little Pigs” chili sounded like it could be a winner.

Every patron who entered the banquet hall received six People’s Choice tickets. I spread mine out between four restaurants: The Peanut Bar, Mi Casa Su Casa, the Abraham Lincoln and Sofrito (the Abe and Peanut Bar split my two extra tickets). I was surprised to find out later that Boscov’s had swept both the judged and People’s Choice competitions. Not that I didn’t enjoy their offering, I just thought there were better options.

fire-ice-festival-carving

After finishing off my last cup of chili, I headed out to the ice sculpting competition. Dragons aren’t really my thing, but I couldn’t help but appreciate the intricacy of the designs on display.

fire-ice-festival-pagoda-festivalAll weekend, Penn Street was lined with sculptures that showcased both sponsors of the event, including a frozen bust of Abraham Lincoln, and Reading landmarks like the Pagoda and a massive train.

fire-ice-festival-entertainmentThere was also live entertainment all weekend, as well as food trucks on Friday night and Saturday afternoon, a Saturday morning pancake breakfast at the Outside-In, a Snow Ball on Saturday night at the Abraham Lincoln, and free ice cream sundaes on Sunday.

For a first-time event, it looked like the Reading Fire + Ice Fest drew a nice crowd, especially at the chili cook-off, evident by multiple places running out of chili before it closed at 2 p.m.

I certainly hope it was successful enough to come back for another year. I’m looking forward to more chili.

Food Festivals & Events

Crystal Palace closes for good; Carrabba’s and Bonefish out; and more

Crystal Palace closes

The Crystal Palace, a dining staple in Reading for 82 years, has closed for good, according to an article in the January 20 Reading Eagle. The article cites the health of owner/operator Jordan Pestlikes as the reason for the closing. The restaurant has tried temporary closings in the past, including during the summer of 2013. The restaurant was well-known for its Coney Island hot dogs. The article also said there is no chance of another restaurant taking its place because the building and equipment are not for sale.

Pretzel Revolution coming to FirstEnergy Stadium

Kutztown-based Pretzel Revolution announced on Facebook last week that they will have a presence at Reading Fightin’ Phils games during the 2015 season. According to a post dated January 14, Pretzel Revolution will have a stand in the plaza behind the third base line where they will serve both traditional and stuffed soft pretzels. Pretzel Revolution began as a stand at the Renninger’s Farmers Market before expanding to a full-time location on Kutztown’s Main Street.

Carrabba’s, Bonefish Grill not coming to Berkshire Mall

The Reading Eagle confirmed last week that neither Carrabba’s Italian Grill nor Bonefish Grill will be opening locations in Wyomissing. Both restaurants had been talked about as potential tenants for future restaurants on the Berkshire Mall property. Both chains already have locations in Lancaster and Allentown. Bonefish Grill is also opening a new location at the King of Prussia Mall. Plans are still moving forward for a Buffalo Wild Wings location on the Berkshire Mall property, expected to open sometime this fall.

Food News
A wooden sign advertising Heirloom restaurant in Hereford Township

Heirloom – CLOSED

heirloom

Editor’s Note: Heirloom’s owners have decided not to renew its lease, and the restaurant closing after New Year’s Eve Dinner, December 31, 2016. 

One of the great things about Berks County Eats is being able to promote local businesses in Berks County and our neighbors.

While there is certainly a place in this world for large corporations, it is the small businesses that are the lifeblood of our communities.

When it comes to locally owned restaurants, some go even further, using locally sourced ingredients in all of their meals. And it is this farm-to-table attitude that really got me excited when I first read about Heirloom, a fine dining restaurant that opened near the village of Palm in Hereford Township back in October.

Heirloom is tucked away in the easternmost part of the county, where Berks, Montgomery and Lehigh converge. It’s only a short drive from Allentown, Quakertown and Pottstown, just off Route 100 and not far from the Northeast Extension of the Pennsylvania Turnpike.

For those of us on the other side of Reading, it may as well be the other side of the world. Our trip there was a scenic drive along Route 12 and a never-ending series of backroads through the scenic countryside, a land of stone houses and picturesque farmland that seemed so far away from Wyomissing.

When we finally arrived, the sun had already set so I couldn’t get a good glimpse of the building. But with the interior door framing a stained glass window (one of several stained glass panels in the building), it was hard to miss the beauty inside the historic building.

Heirloom, which opened in October, is a true farm-to-table restaurant with a menu that is constantly changing based on what’s in season and what’s available from local farmers. This also means that the menu is small—just one page, about eight appetizers and six entrees, all of them prepared from scratch.

bread-heirloom

One constant at the restaurant is the fresh-baked bread, served with every dinner.

red-quinoa-salad-heirloom

The latest addition to the appetizers was the red quinoa salad, leafy greens piled atop a bed of quinoa and grapefruit, topped with cow’s milk chèvre cheese. It had a perfect blend of elements: a nice texture from the quinoa, a little sweetness from the grapefruit and a hint of sour from the vinaigrette. But what really set it apart was the creamy chèvre that just melts in your mouth. Hands down, this was the best salad I have ever eaten.

bison-heirloom

When looking down the menu for my entree, my eyes never made it past the first word, “bison.” The description said the cut was 1 1/2 inches thick, but I really didn’t comprehend how large my portion would be until the full plate was set before me.

As she delivered my plate, my waitress informed me that today was the first day that the bison was on the menu, and that I was the first guinea pig to try it. The slab of bison was covered in shredded fried carrots and surrounded by potatoes, mushrooms, and diced turnips. The meat was tender, and with the vegetables and juicy broth, it reminded me of extra lean pot roast. And it certainly tasted like something that should remain on the menu moving forward.

heirloom-salad

While my salad was new to the menu, the Heirloom salad that Julie ordered has been a permanent fixture since day one. A look at the ingredients makes it easy to see why: mixed greens, radish, onion vinaigrette, pickled onions, bacon lardons, goat cheese and fennel pollen.

rack-of-lamb-heirloom

For the main course, Julie went with the rack of lamb, served with fingerling potatoes and mushrooms in mushroom sauce, garnished with kale leaves. The sauce was a pleasant surprise. Almost broth-like in its consistency, it really enhanced the flavors of the meat rather than mask it.

Despite having more than our fair share already, it didn’t take much convincing to be talked into dessert. After hearing descriptions of many decadent options (including flourless chocolate cake, Tahitian vanilla crème brûlée, and pumpkin funnel cake with cinnamon ice cream), we opted for a homemade s’more.

s-more-heirloom

Don’t confuse this with the campfire treat. The s’more started with a base of Mexican chocolate ice cream infused with chili peppers, which was topped with a homemade marshmallow. It was drizzled with chocolate syrup and graham cracker dust,  then toasted on top to give it some beautiful color. I almost felt bad for the chef who prepared it because I’m sure we finished it in half the time it took to prepare because it was that good. The marshmallow melted on the tongue while the chocolate ice cream had just the tiniest hint of pepper that didn’t burn, but woke up the taste buds to everything else on the plate.

Heirloom is not a place that many can afford to make a weekly or even monthly visit to, but it isn’t meant to be that kind of restaurant. Though our check came to $100 (At $40 and $32, our entrees were the two most expensive on the menu), I can say we got much more than we paid for.

truffles-heirloom

The complimentary homemade espresso truffles that arrived with our check certainly didn’t hurt either.

The whole experience was exceptional, from attentive service to fantastic food. As excited as I was to try Heirloom for the first time, I will be even more excited to go back again.

Heirloom on Urbanspoon

Closed Reviews

Food & Festivals: Pennsylvania Farm Show

butter-sculpture-2015-pa-farm-show

Berks County has more than its fair share of festivals, especially those with agrarian roots. Between Reading, Kutztown and Oley, there are plenty of opportunities to showcase our farmers, gardeners, bakers and seamstresses.

But all of our festivals pale in comparison to the Pennsylvania Farm Show.

The eight-day event is held annually at the PA Farm Show Complex and Expo Center in Harrisburg, Dauphin County. For many Berks Countians, January is not complete without the annual pilgrimage to the state capital and one of Pennsylvania’s most beloved events.

There is no right or wrong time to visit the Farm Show, but if you visit on the weekend, arrive early. Parking fills up quickly, and it gets really cold, really quick when you stand outside waiting for the shuttle bus to take you to the Farm Show Complex.

As a lifelong Pennsylvanian, I am ashamed to admit that last year was my first ever trip to the Farm Show. Walking in for the first time, it can be overwhelming.

To the right is the food court and exposition hall. To the left are the arenas and a seemingly endless maze of animal stalls, exhibitors and family living contest entries. It’s an immense complex. If you took all of the buildings, the barns, and the grandstand area of the Reading Fair and put them all under one roof, you would be close.

For me, the most overwhelming part of the day is figuring out where to eat. There are far too many delicious options for one appetite (it took a pair of visits of two years to try everything I mention in this blog).

Here are a few recommendations from our visits:

Mozarella-Cubes-PA-Farm-Show

If you’re craving something deep-fried, the mozzarella cubes are an excellent choice. Four supersized mozzarella sticks are battered, skewered and fried until light tan. The cheese oozes out with every bite. It’s creamy, it’s crunch, and it’s perfect with a little bit of marinara sauce.

Lamb-Stew-PA-Farm-Show

Many items at the Farm Show are ones that you won’t find regularly in restaurants around here. One of those is the lamb stew, a savory bowl of lamb, potatoes, green beans, mushrooms and carrots. The stew eats like a chili, with a broth that thickens from the coarsely ground lamb. Every bite is meaty, but it doesn’t feel heavy because the lamb is so lean.

Baked-Potato-PA-Farm-Show

Rarely do I ever order a baked potato when I go out, but I decided to skip the fries in favor of something a little “healthier.” The photo does not do justice to how big this potato is (the bowl is about the size of my hand). Served with your choice of sour cream or butter, the potato is simple, but somehow better than any I have had in a long time.

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Another option for a hearty lunch (or dinner) is the hot roast beef sandwich. Like most sandwiches at the Farm Show, the hot roast beef is served on a Martin’s potato roll. The thin-sliced beef is packed onto the roll with nothing else. I opted to drown mine in barbecue sauce (personally, I love how barbecue sauce and roast beef taste together).

Butter-Sculpture-PA-Farm-Show

Probably the Farm Show’s most well-known item is the milkshake. Last year, the Farm Show celebrated 50 years of serving milkshakes, going so far as to make it the basis of the 2014 butter sculpture.

Black-And-White-Milkshake-PA-Farm-Show

Milkshakes come in three varieties: vanilla, chocolate, black and white—a mix of the two with one flavor layered atop the other. At times, it seems like everyone at the show has a milkshake in their hand. For as popular as the milkshakes are, and how much I heard about them ahead of time, I have to say they were really a let-down. The shakes are soft-serve, milk and dry mix thrown together in the machine to create something that’s basically a Wendy’s Frosty, only thin enough to use a straw.

While the food is a great reason to visit, there are plenty more reasons to stay.

Junior-Rode-PA-Farm-Show

The large arena hosts a variety of events throughout the week, starting with Saturday’s opening ceremonies, and including junior rodeo, horse demonstrations and competitions, and the Circuit Finals rodeo to close out the week.

Iron-Chef-PA-Farm-Show

Inside the Main Hall, you can taste samples from dozens of Pennsylvania food vendors and view live cooking demonstrations on the PA Preferred stage. Each year on opening day, the stage is the site of an Iron Chef-style cooking competition that pits three of the state’s top chefs against each other.

The hall also houses exhibits from Pennsylvania government departments, as well as businesses. It is also where you will find the family living competitions, including the results of baking contests, sewing competitions, and some of the largest vegetables to come out of Pennsylvania soil.

With all of the daily events, it is easy to make a day of it. And if you have the time, it is well-worth the drive.

This year’s Farm Show runs through tomorrow (Saturday). For those who can’t make the trip this year, be sure to clear your calendars for 2016 for the 100th edition of the Pennsylvania Farm Show. Admission to the Farm Show is free. The only cost is the $10 parking fee.

Food Festivals & Events

Tim’s Ugly Mug becoming Fork and Ale; new restaurant to replace Johnny G’s; Mamma B’s Pizza coming to Donuts Divine

Tim’s Ugly Mug to become Fork and Ale

It appears as if the former Tim’s Ugly Mug will not be vacant for long. According to an article in the January 7 Reading Eagle, a new restaurant, Fork and Ale, is looking to take over the space along Route 724. The new owners already own the Craft Ale House in Limerick, which they have operated for the past six years. The sale of the business was expected to be completed last week.

Johnny G’s Barbecue on the Avenue to become Slim Pickins

Johnny G’s Barbecue on the Avenue has closed, according to an article in the January 13 Reading Eagle. Berks County Eats first reported in December that the restaurant had temporarily closed because of issues with the borough regarding the use of their smoker. The Reading Eagle piece reports that a new restaurant, Slim Pickins, will open in the spot next month. Slim Pickins is being operated by a former employee of Johnny G’s.

Mamma B’s pizza coming to Donuts Devine

Two local eateries are partnering to create a unique dining experience with Mamma B’s pizza coming to Donuts Divine. Mamma B’s first posted on Facebook about the partnership on January 9.

***Breaking News ***

We are joining forces with Donuts Divine @2903 Pricetown Rd across from Blind Hartman’s Tavern to bring you our pizza 5 days a week at first and then 7 days in a month or so

A later post said the pizza will be available starting January 16. Mamma B’s was previously only available at their stand at the Renninger’s Farmers Market in Kutztown.

Food News

Muddy’s Smokehouse Barbecue – Robesonia – CLOSED

muddy-s-robesonia

Muddy’s Robesonia location closed on June 25, 2016. Read the full story here. The restaurant still operates its Oley location and is actively seeking a second place to operate.

In 2011, Muddy’s Smokehouse BBQ ushered in a barbecue revolution in Berks County.

The tiny trailer parked along Route 12 was unlike anything else around. It was as if someone had taken a piece of the deep south and transplanted it into Alsace Township.

And while Muddy’s looked different, what truly made it stand out was the food. Sure, we have always had hamburger bar-b-que and bar-b-que chicken, but the slow-cooked ribs, pulled pork and beef brisket from Muddy’s was something else altogether.

My first review of Muddy’s came nearly three years ago, and a lot has changed since then.

Drive along Route 12 today and you will see an empty lot where the Muddy’s trailer was parked, the result of a year-long legal battle with the township over land usage and zoning.

The result has been a bigger, better Muddy’s.

Instead of a single trailer, Muddy’s now operates two permanent locations: one along Oley Road, not far from the original, and a second about 20 miles away in Robesonia.

The Robesonia location came first, opening in the summer of 2014. The location along Penn Avenue has been a revolving door of sandwich shops for more than a decade, most recently serving as the home of a catering company before Muddy’s arrived on the scene.

On my first visit to the new location, I couldn’t help but think how weird it was to be walking into Muddy’s after having walked up to the trailer window on so many previous occasions.

One thing that has largely remained the same since the move has been the menu, though it has been expanded. The barbecue basics are still there, along with the loaded French fries and most of the sides (sadly, the Yukon gold mashed potatoes are gone).

Many of the daily specials from the original location, like white chicken chili and smoked wings, are now permanent menu items. Salads and specialty sandwiches help give the menu even more variety.

After going through Muddy’s withdrawals for nearly a year, I had my heart set on one of the classics: beef brisket.

beef-brisket-muddy-s

The brisket has a beautiful pink smoke ring around the outside edge, a subtle reminder that this is real barbecue. For those dining in, the meat and sides are served sans plates, and instead are placed directly on a tray liner. For takeout (as we opted for), the eight slabs of brisket are neatly stacked on one side with my baked beans and fries on the other.

All three items are carry-overs from the original menu, and all are as good as ever. Only a hint of fat remains on the brisket, a byproduct of the slow-cooking. I poured about one-quarter cup of Muddy’s apple fig barbecue sauce on top, drowning the meat in sweetness. The brisket absorbs all of the smokiness from the cooking process and all of the sweetness from the sauce to create a perfect barbecue experience.

The baked beans were as hearty and delicious as I remembered, with chunks of whatever meat was leftover from the day before (in this case, pulled pork) added in for extra flavor. The fries also haven’t changed—fresh-cut, lightly seasoned, and perfect for dipping in sauce.

Among the new specialty sandwiches are a selection of cheese steaks (I believe cheese steaks are mandatory for all Pennsylvania restaurants). Julie decided to try the Yardbird cheese steak, smoked chicken with onions, peppers, steak sauce and cheese.

yardbird-cheese-steak-muddy-s

It was a wise choice, one of the best steak sandwiches of any kind that I have found in Berks County. The smoked chicken carries so much flavor on its own, but it’s the sauce that really helps bring everything together, complementing both the chicken and cheese.

For a normal person, the beef brisket would be two meals (or shared between two people), but I managed to find room for the whole thing. Julie paced herself a little better, saving half of her sandwich for the next day so our $25 stretched across three meals.

It’s been a long road for Muddy’s over the past year, but it is great that they finally have a permanent home—two permanent homes, I should say. Now I just have to make it to the Oley location.

Muddy's Smokehouse Barbecue on Urbanspoon

Closed Reviews

Tim’s Ugly Mug closes; two restaurants ready for opening day; and more Berks Food News

Tim’s Ugly Mug Closes

After more than 11 years in business, Tim’s Ugly Mug closed over the weekend. A Facebook post on Friday announced an inventory reduction sale, saying the restaurant would be operating for just three more days before shutting down Sunday. The Reading Eagle is reporting that the business has a new owner, and the newspaper will be running an article about the change in Wednesday’s (January 7) edition. Tim’s Ugly Mug, which opened in 2003, was located in Union Township along Route 724 between Douglassville and Birdsboro.

Dickey’s Barbecue Pit sets opening date

The new Dickey’s Barbecue Pit in Wyomissing is set to open this Thursday, January 8. The restaurant, located in the Berkshire Square Shopping Center next to Redner’s, is the 11th Pennsylvania location for the chain. Dickey’s will be hosting an invitation-only VIP preview lunch on Wednesday before opening to the public on Thursday.

Dino’s second location set for Centre Ave and Exeter St.

Dino’s Wings and Things has officially revealed its second location. In a Facebook post on January 3, Dino’s announced that the second location would be located on Centre Ave near Exeter St., directly across from Olivet Reformed Church.The restaurant will open in February and according to the post will be “servicing all of Reading [for] eat in, take out and delivery.”

Former Maxatawny Restaurant site for sale

The former Kemp’s Hotel building in Maxatawny Township is for sale, this according to an article in the January 6 Reading Eagle. The building, which dates to 1740, has housed the Yoga House and Nectar’s Cafe and Juice Bar since 2013. Prior to that, the building was in a state of disrepair having been vacant since the Whispering Springs Restaurant closed several years earlier. The asking price for the historic property is $725,000.

Food News
Best Diner: Exeter Family Restaurant

Exeter Family Restaurant

Exeter-Family-Restaurant

In November, the Reading Eagle handed out its annual Reader’s Choice awards where subscribers voted for their favorite local businesses. Exeter Family Restaurant earned the title of “Best Diner.”

A month later, Berks County Living Magazine handed out its annual Best of Berks awards, and once again, “Best Diner” honors went to Exeter Family Restaurant.

It’s hard to get Berks Countians to agree on anything (i.e. Christmas Trees) so the fact that Exeter Family Restaurant was such a clear favorite to win Best Diner from two publications, I knew it was a place that Berks County Eats needed to visit.

Exeter Family Restaurant is a shining example of a traditional diner, literally. The chrome exterior helps the diner stand out from among the boring brands that surround it.

The parking lot was filling up when we arrived for lunch, but there was plenty of seating spread among the two dining rooms. Once at our booth, I took a look through the whole menu, and what caught my eye wasn’t an entree, but the Exeter Family Restaurant Declaration:

We hold these truths to be self-evident: That all men and women are created with equal appetites; That they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable rights, that among these are:

The right to eat breakfast whenever the heck they please (like 4 in the morning);

The right to wear running shorts, pajamas, or last night’s clothes to Sunday breakfast;

And most importantly…The right to eat out in Berks County without breaking the bank.

Now those are words I can stand behind.

At first glance, there isn’t much to distinguish Exeter Family Restaurant’s menu from other diners. Burgers and sandwiches are plentiful, comfort food abounds, and breakfast is served 24 hours a day.

I’m always looking for something a little different from the norm, and I found it under the “Fiery Sauté Pan” section.

Exeter-Family-Restaurant-Memphis-Steak-Tips

My Memphis steak tips were seasoned pieces of sirloin laid on a bed of dirty rice, topped with barbecue sauce. The rice could have served as a meal in itself as it was “dirtied” with bits of ground beef and bacon. The steak was cooked to order and came out nicely seared. I only wish there was a little more of the sauce. I didn’t get it in every bite, but when I did it added a sweetness that brought the whole dish together.

Another original menu item is the cheesy mac and pulled pork panini, which caught Julie’s eyes right away. The panini was piled high with tender pulled pork, six-cheese mac and cheese, pickles, gouda and barbecue sauce.

Exeter-Family-Restaurant-Mac-And-Pork-Panini

Despite it’s name, the sandwich was not overly cheesy. Instead, the flavor of the pork was the star, with just hints of sauce and cheese. The macaroni added a unique texture to the sandwich that helped it stand out.

Exeter-Family-Restaurant-Chicken-Orzo-Soup

All sandwiches come with a cup of soup, while entrees come with a trip to the salad bar which has everything you could want including multiple greens, nearly every salad dressing you could ask for, and three fresh-baked loaves of bread from which diners can cut their own slices.

As the Exeter Family Restaurant Declaration implies, our meals were also very affordable, coming in at just a tick more than $20 for the two of us.

While I have a long way to go before I can say I have tried all of the diners in Berks County, I can tell you that Exeter Family Restaurant earned those Best Diner titles honestly.

And I wouldn’t be surprised if there were more in their future.

BCE Rating
Food: Good
Service: Very Good
Ambiance: Good
Price: Very Reasonable

Exeter Family Restaurant
4800 Perkiomen Ave
Reading, PA 19606

Exeter Family Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Breakfast & Brunch Lunch & Dinner Reviews