For all the great diversity in Berks County’s restaurant scene, there is always room to grow. The key is opening a restaurant that is different, that isn’t serving the same food as the place down the street.
Find the right niche and serve great food and drinks, and the eatery is likely to be a success.
A vegan/vegetarian cafe in downtown Boyertown? Now that’s a niche.
Open since April, the Firefly Cafe is a place unlike any other in the county.
Specializing in breakfast and lunch, it’s one of just a handful of meatless restaurants in the region (along with places like Chen Vegetarian House in West Reading and the iCreate Cafe in Pottstown).
In addition to its normal hours, Firefly opens up for dinner service on Fridays and Saturdays. That’s when we made our trek eastward for a taste.
Two warm fireplaces greeted us inside. One, a large video screen above the restrooms. The second, a faux fireplace, one of the smallest I have ever seen, was sitting near our table giving off a charming glow.
There was one couple leaving with a to-go package when we arrived with a few more groups coming and going during the 45 minutes we spent at the cafe.
Our table was by one of the front windows where we could enjoy the nightscapes of Boyertown. Our server – one of the owners – dropped off a pair of menus and some infused water (cucumber for me, orange for Julie) and told us she would take our orders at the counter when we were ready.
I had perused the menu before we arrived so I was feeling good about my decision – the vegan pulled pork sandwich.
What’s a vegan pulled pork sandwich? Well it looks a lot like the real thing, but jackfruit (a fruit in the fig family, according to the always-reliable Wikipedia) takes the place of the meat. It was topped by vegan tri-color slaw (carrots and cabbage in a plant-based cream).
It was a delicious recreation. The barbecued jackfruit made for a much sweeter sandwich, but the phenomenal multi-grain roll helped balance it out. The slaw was great, adding more flavor with a crunchy texture.
Could you tell it wasn’t meat? Yes. Did I care? No.
All dinners come with a side of greens and choice of house-made dressings. I went with the carrot ginger.
It was a light, chunky dressing with lots of carrots and pinch of ginger. Easily one of the best salad dressings that I’ve tried in my Berks County Eats adventure.
For her meal, Julie went for the vegan lasagna, whole wheat noodles with tomato sauce, vegetables and vegan cheese.
Again, it wasn’t the same as eating true Italian lasagna, but it was enjoyable. Among the vegetables inside were carrots and olives. The tomato sauce was definitely fresh. The vegan cheese was tasty. And it had a nice crumbly top layer that added texture to the dish.
And it was surprisingly filling for a meatless dish.
On her side of greens, Julie opted for the lemon miso-tahini dressing. It had a vibrant citrus flavor and was much creamier than mine (thanks to the tahini). It was another winning creation.
We felt so good about having eaten a health-conscious meal that we skipped the dessert (though chia pudding is about as guiltless as you can get) so our final total was right around $25.
The Firefly Cafe is different from anything else in Berks County, and that’s a great thing.
And whether you’re a vegetarian, vegan, omnivore or carnivore, it’s definitely worth trying.
12 N. Reading Ave
Boyertown, PA 19512