Wyomissing Restaurant & Bakery won best breakfast

Wyomissing Restaurant and Bakery

wyomissing-restaurant-and-bakery

“Shady Maple north east.”

Those are the words of Hamid Chaudhry as he described his vision for the Wyomissing Family Restaurant to the Reading Eagle in December, shortly after he became the new owner.

Lofty goals, indeed for a restaurant that had fallen on hard times in the years before. On our walks and drives through town, we could see the number of cars in the parking lot slowly start to shrink.

But new ownership has breathed new life into the location, and spawned a new name, the Wyomissing Restaurant and Bakery.

wyomissing-restaurant-brunch-buffet-1

When Julie and I visited for Sunday brunch a few weeks ago, the parking lot was fuller than we could remember seeing in a long time. Thankfully, despite the crowd, there was no wait for a table for those of us doing the brunch buffet.

We were seated with all of the other buffet-goers in what would be the banquet room. With no large groups closing off the space, it was the closest seating to the all-you-can-eat  smorgasbord.

wyomissing-restaurant-brunch-buffet-2

Five stations of varying size waited for me and my fellow eaters. On the left sat a small table where I found my orange juice and assorted breads for toasting.

Against the back wall was the griddle, where pancakes, French toast and omelets were made to order. A hot bar in the middle featured breakfast favorites: scrambled eggs, ham, bacon and three kinds of potatoes, as well as a couple lunch options like mac and cheese.

I started among these three stations, choosing cream chipped beef over toast, homefries and French toast for plate number one.

wyomissing-restaurant-french-toast-cream-chipped-beef-potatoes

I was expecting one slice of French toast with my order. I got three, and loved them. The powdered sugar was there for you to sprinkle on yourself so I added just the right amount of sweetness for myself.

The chipped beef was also very good (had I known I was getting three slices of French toast, I probably would have skipped it, though). It was rich, but not too much. The homefries were good, though I had to add a little salt and pepper to them.

wyomissing-restaurant-french-toast-potatoes-scrambled-eggs-sausage

Julie’s seasoned potatoes were quite the opposite. If anything, they were a little oversalted. She enjoyed her French toast as well (throwing a few chocolate chips on for good measure). The bite-sized sausage links were very flavorful, and the eggs were also nicely done.

Not a bad first plate for either of us.

With plate two, we both migrated to the middle island and lunch. The full salad bar was open with two kinds of soup and two pasta options (the soup, salad and pasta buffet station is available for lunch every day).

wyomissing-restaurant-cream-of-broccoli-soup-crab-penne-vegetable-lasagna

I had a bowl of cream of broccoli soup with a helping each of vegetable lasagna and penne pasta with clam sauce.

The vegetable lasagna was delicious, with layers of pasta, cheese and plenty of veggies (broccoli, carrots, and more). The cream of broccoli soup was good, too, though if I wasn’t blogging, I probably wouldn’t have needed both the soup and the lasagna. I’m also not a fan of clams, but I tried the pasta and actually enjoyed it. It wasn’t too clammy, though you could definitely taste it.

wyomissing-restaurant-salad

Julie’s second plate was a little lighter as she went for the more traditional salad options. She was happy to see that her favorite item from the old salad bar was still there: Jell-O. The options were actually very impressive, with a wide variety to build a nice side salad or even make it an entree.

The final station was serving up sweets: waffles and soft ice cream. For research purposes, Julie and I both made mini sundaes to cap off our brunch.

wyomissing-restaurant-soft-ice-cream

For $15 per person (discounts for seniors and children), the brunch buffet is definitely priced right. The buffet definitely seems like the way to go, with reasonable prices for breakfast, lunch and dinner throughout the week.

While we were at the ice cream station, we had a chance to chat with Hamid Chaudhry. In between hosting duties, he was greeting regulars and striking up conversation with newcomers.

“What do you think of the changes?” he asked.

Julie and I both agreed, the changes are positives.

It’s not Shady Maple, but as long as the restaurant holds on to those aspirations, it will be a great buffet.

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

Wyomissing Restaurant and Bakery
1245 Penn Ave
Wyomissing, PA 19610

Wyomissing Family Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Breakfast & Brunch Buffets Dessert Diners Reviews

Americana Diner

americana-diner

Review sites are always hit and miss with me.

I love looking at them to get ideas, but if you look too closely, you’ll see all of the less-than-favorable reviews and have second thoughts about visiting a new restaurant.

They can also be utterly confusing. Take the Americana Diner in New Berlinville, for example.

On Yelp, the restaurant is listed twice: one listing with a Bechtelsville address, the other New Berlinville (it’s in neither, sitting between the two in Colebrookdale Township).

One listing averages 4-stars. The other, 2-stars. It’s as if one page is for those who enjoy the restaurant and the other is a place to gripe after a bad experience.

For me, the only thing to do was to try it for myself.

The Americana Diner looks impressive from the outside. The large stainless steel structure is impressive. Shining in the sun, it almost looks out of place against the grittier storefronts along Route 100.

We arrived a little before 9 a.m. to find the parking lot nearly full — always a good sign. Thankfully, there was a booth for two waiting for a couple just like us.

Our waitress arrived quickly to take our drink order. She returned in short order to take our order. Like all busy diners, the goal is get the customers in and out as fast as possible so our server was very attentive to us.

americana-diner-gyro-skillet

It was hard to choose from among the many and varied menu items. I usually go with French toast, but I wanted to do something different this time. I saw the skillet menu and one, in particular, caught my eye: the gyro skillet.

The gyro skillet was advertised as gyro meat, potatoes, peppers and onions, topped with eggs (scrambled, for me), and served with a side of tzatziki sauce and pita bread.

I was a little thrown off when it arrived with white toast and no sauce. Julie was able to flag down our waitress for me and I got my sauce.

americana-diner-toast

“I don’t sell too many of those so I wasn’t sure what it came with,” was the response I got. She was friendly enough about it, but wouldn’t you double-check if you weren’t sure about something?

Then she said, “people have said it’s kind of bland.” Without the tzatziki sauce, yes.

Gyro meat (it didn’t specify if it was lamb or beef, and I didn’t bother to ask) is generally blander. Potatoes, onions and peppers aren’t exactly enough to make up for it.

The problem with the tzatziki on the side is it was chilled so it added an awkward coldness to the piping hot skillet. I would have much preferred if they would have drizzled the sauce on top, beneath the egg to let everything soak in that creamy flavor.

As it was, it was still a good breakfast, a hearty breakfast, but nothing special.

americana-diner-pineapple-pancakes

Julie’s choice was much simpler: an order of two pineapple pancakes.

The pancakes were almost plate-sized and topped with a heaping helping of pineapple topping, with two cups of Smucker’s breakfast syrup on the side.

I’m a traditionalist so I always prefer the glass dispenser to the little plastic cups. Not that it changes the taste, but I’ve always found the syrup cups make the plate look cheap.

The pineapple topping was good, but I’d rather eat it on an ice cream sundae than on pancakes. Julie enjoyed it, though she was expecting fresh fruit, which would have been a nice touch.

One thing we couldn’t complain about was the price. With our two breakfasts and my glass of OJ, we still only spent $17 for our breakfast.

I can see why the reviews are mixed for Americana. The food is good, not great. The service is fast, but a little rushed. Our waitress made a mistake, but she made things right and was always pleasant.

But you should never let reviews (even mine) influence your opinion of a place.

In the end, the only experience that matters is your own.

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

Americana Diner
682 PA-100
Bechtelsville, PA 19505

Breakfast & Brunch Diners Reviews

Panevino

panevino-exterior

Editor’s Note: Panevino now operates as a special event venue and caterer. Though no longer open daily for lunch and dinner, they are open for holidays and special dining events throughout the year.

In the early years of Berks County Eats (circa 2012-13), blog posts were sporadic.

For those two years, I only did 12 restaurant reviews. Two of those restaurants have closed, two of them have moved. The other eight continue on, and for me, they are simply noted by an “x” on my spreadsheet of Berks County restaurants.

In May of 2013, I checked Panevino off my list. Three years and three months have passed since Julie and I visited the Italian restaurant on the corner of Second and Washington, across from the Reading Movies 11 & IMAX.

Thirty-nine months later, it was time to go back.

Panevino is in a tough location. It doesn’t have the visibility of Penn Street, and so far, it remains the only business among several empty storefronts on the first floor of the Albert Boscov Plaza.

On the plus side, Panevino customers can enjoy free parking in the garage above it.

Both Julie and I were surprised to see all of the open tables when we arrived for our reservations. It began to fill up as we ate, but the spacious dining room still looked empty.

Our waitress dropped off our menus, which were different than what I found on Panevino’s website. Slightly pared down, all of the entrees now come with an appetizer and dessert included so there is no excuse for leaving hungry.

panevino-parmesan-pita-with-black-bean-hummus

Before our apps arrived, we were treated to an excellent sampling of parmesan pita bread with white bean hummus. It was compliments of the chef, not something available on the menu, but it was delicious. The small portion left us wanting more.

panevino-bread-and-oil

Instead, we were served our choice of bread: focaccia (Julie), ciabatta (me) or asiago cheese (odd bread out) with olive oil for dipping. I would have liked a little bit of seasoning in the oil, but the breads were good, especially the focaccia.

panevino-arancini-di-riso

Up next were our appetizers. For me, it was the arancini di riso, three large fried balls of rice, meat, peas and cheese, served with mushroom sauce.

There was definitely plenty of rice and a nice amount of meat, but I don’t remember seeing many peas. The mushroom sauce was good, if a little thin. The rice definitely soaked it up well, though.

panevino-spicy-crab-and-clam-chowder

Julie, on the other hand, was a huge fan of her spicy crab and clam chowder. Not too spicy, the chowder was loaded with tomato, potatoes, a little bit of celery and plenty of clam and crab. There was never an empty spoonful, and each one was delicious.

She was also a big fan of her eggplant parmesan.

panevino-eggplant-parmesan

The battered eggplant was layered with Grand Padano (comparable to Parmesan) and mozzarella cheeses. The eggplant was cut so thin that it almost disguised itself as lasagna.

Everything worked together – the eggplant, cheese and a very good tomato sauce – for a delicious dish.

panevino-rigatoni

I decided to go with the rigatoni. I normally wouldn’t have gone with something so boring, but the roasted red pepper sauce sold me on it.

The sweet Italian sausage was very good, but I wanted just a little more red pepper in my sauce. It was there, but it didn’t distinguish it enough from a traditional tomato sauce.

It was a good meal, though I was left wanting something just a little more to make it feel special.

Dessert definitely did not disappoint.

panevino-peach-and-blueberry-cobbler

I was torn between the crème brulee and the peach and blueberry cobbler, finally settling on the cobbler. I made the right decision.

The blueberry-heavy sauce had bubbled over the sides of the mug with a nice scoop of vanilla ice cream on top. Slices of peach were scattered beneath the puffy pastry topping.

It was just a little sweeter than I would have liked, but it was still an amazing ending to my meal.

panevino-ny-cheesecake

Julie’s sweet treat was New York cheesecake with orange sauce, garnished with strawberries, blueberries and whipped cream. It was delicious, especially with that hint of citrus throughout.

panevino-chocolate-raspberry-martini

That wasn’t the only sweet treat that my wife enjoyed during our visit. Her chocolate raspberry martini lasted her through the meal.

And for two entrees, two appetizers, a pair of desserts and a martini, we still paid only $50. We’ve paid more than twice as much for three-course meals other places.

Now, don’t get me wrong, Panevino is not fine dining. They try hard, but it’s not the same as a meal at Dan’s at Green Hills or Heirloom.

Still, it was a nice night out in an underappreciated restaurant.

Panevino Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Dessert Finer Dining Italian Lunch & Dinner Reviews

Pretzel Revolution and Creamery – CLOSED

pretzel-revolution-and-creamery exterior 2

Editior’s Note: Pretzel Revolution & Creamery closed on December 31, 2016.

It was in March when Julie and I made our first visit to Pretzel Revolution and Creamery.

We were both fans of the stuffed soft pretzels from our visits to the original Pretzel Revolution in Kutztown, and were beyond excited to have a location closer to home.

The fact that the new Route 12 location served ice cream was just a bonus.

We enjoyed small cones of ice cream on that trip, but it was really all about the pretzels. On our return visit, we skipped dinner and went straight for dessert.

pretzel-revolution-and-creamery-2

Pretzel Revolution expanded their hours since our last visit, and since May have been open every night until 10 p.m. That makes it a lot easier for us to get there on a weeknight, especially when all we need is dessert.

There was a family of three sitting at one table and an older couple at another when we arrived around 9.

Pretzel Revolution has both Kreider Farms and Penn State Berkey Creamery ice cream. I didn’t even look at the Kreider Farms flavors. (No offense).

pretzel-revolution-creamery-keeney-beaney

On our last visit, I had the Berkey Creamery’s most famous flavor: peachy Paterno. This time, I went with another Hall of Fame flavor, keeney beaney.

Keeney beaney uses chocolate ice cream as its delicious base, but it’s made even better by the addition of chocolate chips and vanilla bean.

Berkey Creamery ice cream is not quite as creamy or heavy as Longacre’s Modern Dairy, but it is heavy enough. And I always love the combination of vanilla and chocolate. Everyone makes a vanilla ice cream with chocolate swirl so I really appreciated getting the reverse.

pretzel-revolution-creamery-death-by-chocolate

Julie went with even more chocolate for her cone, ordering the death by chocolate ice cream. The creamery’s version of death by chocolate features chocolate flakes, fudge pieces and chocolate swirl.

She really enjoyed it, especially on her pretzel cone. I just wish there was a pretzel bakery nearby that could do a homemade pretzel cone (hint, hint).

Pretzel Revolution and Creamery is the only place in Berks County where you can find Penn State’s fantastic ice cream flavors. And the price of $8 and change for our two specialty cones was equally fantastic.

On our trips to Pretzel Revolution and Creamery, we have enjoyed both the stuffed pretzels and the ice cream.

While there, I also saw a sign saying they were now serving pretzel pizzas.

Sounds like I’ll be going back again soon.

Pretzel Revolution and Creamery
2903 Pricetown Rd
Temple, PA 19560

Closed Reviews

Bernville Eagle Hotel

Bernville-Eagle-Hotel-Exterior

I love the character in historic inns and hotels, the places that have been serving food and drinks since the roads were dirt and transportation was four-legged.

Every small town and village had one, and many of them are still going. The Stony Run Inn, subject of last week’s blog, is one of those places.

This week, we paid a visit to another historic hotel, one that has been at the heart of Bernville since 1869.

That’s when the Eagle Hotel opened along Main Street in the little borough (now the only borough) in northwestern Berks County.

Bernville-Eagle-Hotel-Interior

Nearly 150 years later, it’s still a gathering place where locals grab drinks and dinner six nights a week (closed on Sundays). Though I’m sure patrons in the late 19th century weren’t ordering from a Caribbean-inspired menu like the hotel offers today.

There is no separation between restaurant and barroom. The single dining room features a large center bar with tables lining the perimeter. The sound of crashing billiards balls echoed out of the back room.

The menu is mostly bar food, but there is a small selection of entrees (plus a few weekly specials). And everything is reasonably priced. Only two menu items cost more than $20, the full rack of ribs and my choice, the Cuban coffee crusted flat iron steak.

Bernville-Eagle-Hotel-Flat-Iron-Steak

Served with plantains and a side of rice and beans, the steak was buried beneath a mound of onions and peppers.

It certainly wasn’t the largest steak that I have ever had, but it was flavorful. I’m not a coffee drinker, but the coffee crust was subtle while adding a crisp char to the outside. I love sautéed onions and roasted peppers so I had no qualms about digging in.

The rice and beans were good, but nothing compared to the more authentic Latin American restaurants that you find closer to the city. And there was certainly nothing to complain about with the portion size.

I’m a sucker for plantains so I was going to love them no matter what.

Bernville-Eagle-Hotel-Salad

My meal was also served with a starter salad and roll. While the salad was nothing to speak of (spring mix with onions, cherry tomatoes, cheese and a cup of dressing), the roll was very enjoyable – soft and buttery.

Julie wasn’t quite hungry enough for the full rack of ribs, but she thought she could handle the half rack.

Bernville-Eagle-Hotel-Ribs

The ribs were also given a little twist with chipotle barbecue sauce and diced mango on top. It was a little disappointing to find the mango was not reduced into the sauce. Ribs are not conducive to toppings so most of the mango fell off with every bone that was picked out. There was also just a little kick from the chipotle, but not too much.

We both enjoyed the fries. They’re the fresh-cut, skin-on kind. That’s the way I love my fries.

The meal was also served with baked beans and slaw. The beans were OK, but nothing special. And she wasn’t a fan of the slaw which she found to be all cabbage and little slaw.

My brother and sister-in-law were along for the visit, and the four of us all had good meals. It wasn’t remarkable, but it was certainly quality bar food. For our four meals (plus drinks – one beer, one sangria and one iced tea), it came to $86 so right around $20 per person for what were some hefty portions on everything.

The Eagle Hotel is your typical local bar and restaurant. The emphasis is clearly on the bar, but you can still enjoy a good, hearty meal, just as people have been doing for a century-and-a-half.

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

Bernville Eagle Hotel
301 N. Main St
Bernville, PA 19506

Bernville Eagle Hotel Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Bars & Pubs Lunch & Dinner Reviews

Longacre’s Modern Dairy

longacre-s-old-fashioned-dairy-bar

One of the great things about the suggestions we got for ice cream shops is that they represent all parts of Berks County.

It forces me to visit corners of the county that I don’t get to very much, but ice cream is a great reason to go anywhere.

Especially to Barto, where the highly acclaimed Longacre’s Modern Dairy and Old Fashioned Dairy Bar has been crafting and serving homemade ice cream since 1940.

When we made the turn off Route 100, the parking lot was nearly full. I pulled into the last of the three rows, next to a car with a New York license plate.

On our way in, we walked past the soft-serve shack, where one lonely employee sat, waiting for customers that just kept walking by.

longacre-s-dining-room

The setup inside Longacre’s is very different from anywhere else. Walking inside, the ice cream counter is straight ahead. There is a small dining area off to the left with tables and booths, and to the right are the refrigerators and freezers where you can get not only ice cream, but milk, eggs and more dairy products to go.

longacre-s-dairy-bar

Four or five girls work behind the counter, taking turns assisting customers (very similar to the Jigger Shop, which we visited recently). But the counter is only for ordering. After you get your ice cream, you have to turn around and stand in line again, this time for the cash register on the opposite wall.

Once we paid, we went outside and grabbed a bench to enjoy our ice cream in the cool night air.

longacre-s-bear-paws-ice-cream

My choice was the bear paw: chocolate ice cream with brownie bits, walnuts and caramel swirl. It was a hefty scoop. Longacre’s doesn’t skimp on portions.

The first thing that you notice is the creaminess. It was heavier than any other ice cream that I have tried so far.

The chocolate flavor was strong. I loved the brownie bits (very reminiscent of the Death by Chocolate at Lori’s Candy Station), and I do love walnuts with my brownies. The caramel was a welcome addition as well.

All in all, it was some of the best ice cream that I have tried in Berks County and beyond.

longacre-s-moose-tracks-ice-cream

Julie went with a more familiar flavor with her moose tracks (vanilla ice cream with hard-shell chocolate and mini peanut butter cups).

Like mine, the ice cream was very creamy. According to the Longacre’s website, the mini peanut butter cups are from Gertrude Hawk so the add-ins were definitely quality.

It made a difference, too. When you hear moose tracks — in our region at least — you think of Hershey’s. Hershey’s can’t compare. And it’s not even that close.

Best of all, our two cones were less than $8. We did go back in for a $1 bottle of water (do yourself a favor, get the water when you get your ice cream).

longacre-s-booth

Longacre’s is certainly unique, and after visiting there, I can say it is some of the best ice cream that you will find. And with their prices, it’s a great places for families.

If you do go, be prepared to wait, especially during peak hours, because everyone else seems to agree.

But don’t let that stop you. It’s worth the wait (and the drive).

Longacre’s Modern Dairy

Classics Dessert Diners Reviews