Great restaurants have an identity. That’s the case everywhere, including Berks County.
For all of these, you know what you’re getting before you go. But there are many restaurants where, at first glance, it’s a little harder.
Kathryn’s Grille, one of Berks County’s newest restaurants, falls into the latter category.
The Douglassville restaurant is located just off westbound Route 422 in a small shopping center formerly home to Amity Ice Cream and OVO BYOB.
It’s a cozy spot with mostly tables for two and a few four-seaters. It’s also one of the nicest dining rooms around: minimalistic in its decor with soft grays and blacks that give it a slightly upscale feel.
But something about the menu just doesn’t seem to fit. It features fried appetizers and wings (50 cents on Sunday), assorted burgers and sandwiches, and eight entree options.
The entrees themselves are an interesting mix. There’s a New York strip steak, seafood options including crab cakes and grilled salmon, and a couple Italian specialties (chicken Parmesan and chicken marsala).
Meanwhile, the sides – fries, sweet potato fries, coleslaw, apple sauce, etc. – scream diner.
For my entree, I decided on the filet beef tips over egg noodles. They were tossed with a blend of mushrooms (cremini, shiitake and domestic, according to the menu) and caramelized onions.
At first, I wasn’t really into it. The noodles on top were very dry. But as I dug deeper, I found increasingly vibrant flavors as the onions and mushrooms soaked into the dish. The steak was fine, but it needed those other flavors to really elevate it.
On the menu, it listed that the meat and mushrooms were in a caramelized onion beef gravy. While the onions were present, there was no gravy. It wasn’t until I was writing this review and looked at the menu again that I realized that gravy was advertised. No wonder the noodles were dry.
None of the sides really paired well with the meal, but being forced to choose one, I went with the day’s special, a vegetable medley of roasted peppers and squash.
Even while we sat there, I joked with Julie that “vegetable medley” is code for vegetables that need to be used before they go bad. The peppers were actually very good, and it was certainly an interesting mix, but not something that I would order again.
I suppose I could have done a side salad, but then I would have preferred that as an appetizer, not a side.
Among the appetizers available is the French onion soup – the only soup with a permanent place on menu. It sounded like a good way to start the meal.
Our waitress asked if I would prefer it in a crock or a bread bowl. I had no choice but to go with the traditional crock.
The soup was topped with a combination of Swiss and Provolone cheeses. The soup itself was good if a little salty, but I thought the cheeses didn’t work as well with it as a more traditional gruyere. They didn’t melt very well and didn’t complement the flavors of soup in the same way.
Provolone cheese was a key ingredient in Julie’s entree, the “Dip It” prime rib sandwich. It was a typical French dip with a glass of au jus for dipping.
It was a good sandwich. The roll was excellent, soaking up the au jus well. I wouldn’t call it the best French dip around, but Julie enjoyed it.
Sandwiches are served with house-made chips. These were excellent. The small waffle-cut chips were well-salted, bite sized and perfect for snacking.
Toward the end of our meal, the owner (I assume) came around and stopped at every table to ask how their meals were. He then dimmed the lights slightly “I don’t want it to feel like a cafeteria.”
I guess “cafeteria” is one thing that Kathryn’s is not.
But I’m still trying to figure out what it is.
Here’s what I do know about Kathryn’s: The sandwich was good and so were the chips. The beef tips needed that gravy. The French onion soup left something to be desired. And it was $40 for our meal.
So where does that leave us? Conflicted. It’s a restaurant with potential, but it’s lacking something. Hopefully they can figure out what that is.
1 Park Ln
Douglassville, PA 19518