The Gourmand Cafe at the Fairgrounds Farmers Market is now closed. The location closed in late 2018.
It’s the last week in April, and that means this is our last stop (for now) on our tour of the Fairgrounds Farmers Market.
We still had several places we wanted to visit, and the decision wasn’t easy, but we decided to go to someplace both familiar and new.
Gourmand has built a mini empire around its unique eats. It started with the Gourmand Artisan Street Food truck. That led to two cafes – one inside Body Zone and one in Wyomissing. In December, they added a third cafe, this one inside the Fairgrounds Farmers Market.
It’s one of the larger food stands at the market today with counter seating for 20.
We stopped in on a Thursday evening just after 6 p.m. Many stands were closing up or already closed (the market officially closes at 7). Even at Gourmand, the clean-up process had already begun, but the lone employee behind the counter was more than happy to take care of us.
The menu features many of Gourmand’s greatest hits like the Berks (the grilled sweet bologna, cream cheese, apple butter and potato chip sandwich I tried at the food truck) and their signature loaded fries.
For my entree, I went with another Gourmand classic – the Burgh.
If you’ve ever been to Pittsburgh (and even if you haven’t), you most likely have heard of Primanti Brothers and their famous sandwich. The Burgh is Gourmand’s take on the classic.
The Burgh starts with pastrami and melted provolone. Like a Primanti Brothers sandwich, it’s topped with three things: tomatoes, coleslaw and French fries.
It’s an odd mix to be sure, but Pittsburgh is an odd city.
The contrast between the hot and cold elements is interesting. The fries cooled off with the tomatoes and coleslaw while the meat and cheese stayed warm.
My one wish for the dish would be to have the bread toasted. As it was, the bread got soggy from the greasy pastrami and the juice from the slaw.
If you’re into the Primanti Brothers, you’d probably be into the sandwich. I liked it, but I wouldn’t have to get it again.
Julie’s sandwich was more my speed.
The Chicago style Italian is reminiscent of a French dip – it’s served with a side of au jus – but does stray a little bit with the use of shaved Parmesan cheese and the addition of banana peppers.
It was a nice sandwich where the meat was able to really be the star. The au jus makes it go down a little easier and adds a little salt to the dish. I can’t speak to the banana peppers because Julie had already picked them off the sandwich by the time she offered me a bite (though I’m sure they add a pleasant kick to it).
I can’t talk about our meals without mentioning the potato chips.
Gourmand fries their own potato chips, and they are a highlight of any meal. Lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, the chips are beautifully crunchy. I would have eaten any amount that they put in front of me. Thankfully, they portioned it well to save me from myself.
Our two sandwiches were less than $20 – a bargain in our estimation, especially given that Julie took half of hers home. That’s the great thing about the Fairgrounds Farmers Market. Everywhere you go, you can find a great meal at a great price.
And the Fairgrounds Farmers Market is the perfect fit for Gourmand’s quick and quirky food, the perfect place to continue to experiment with the menu on a weekly basis.
I can’t wait to see what they do next.
Fairgrounds Farmers Market
2934 N. Fifth Street Hwy
Reading, PA 19605