Let me paint a picture for you: there’s a newer restaurant nearby. Lots of people in your network have checked in there and posted photos of their meals. It sounds great and you finally go.
You go. It’s good, but there’s something about it that’s just not for you.
That’s the best way I can describe my recent visit to Farmhouse Kitchen, an organic cafe and juice bar in West Reading.
Farmhouse Kitchen is part of a recent trend of cafes offering wholesome breakfast and lunch options that use locally sourced and organic ingredients. Coffees, teas and juices are also offered.
Berks County has its share of similar spots, including the Green Bean Cafe in Wyomissing, Hive Local Food in Kutztown (which is also vegetarian), and Wild Sage Coffee & Kitchen in Reading.
Like many cafes, Farmhouse Kitchen is only open for breakfast and lunch (though they do offer extended hours for many West Reading community events). The menu consists mostly of items that work for both meals – like the seasonal brunch bowls and sandwiches that can be “brunched up” with your choice of egg.
We were visiting at lunchtime on a holiday Monday and the place was packed. Thankfully we saw someone that we knew – thank you, Brittni – and were able to grab two of the few seats available (Jakob and his car seat took their place atop the table).
I ordered at the counter while Julie guarded the coveted seats. A short time later our drinks arrived. For Julie, a pineapple ginger mocktail; for me, kombucha.
This was my first taste of kombucha, the fermented tea that is all the rage right now. If you believe the hype, kombucha is a superfood that can prevent disease and work to support a healthy digestive system, among other benefits.
All of these things may or may not be true, but as an actual drink, it’s an acquired taste that I clearly have not acquired yet. I love tea of all kinds – sweetened, Southern sweet, unsweetened, black, green – but to me, kombucha tasted nothing like tea. And the fermentation process gave it the texture of a sparkling cider.
I gave it a try, but kombucha is definitely not for me. Julie’s pineapple ginger juice cocktail was much more my speed. It was sweet, but not too sweet thanks to the addition of the ginger.
Lunch arrived a short time later.
I ordered the “Don’t Fly the Coop,” a chicken patty sandwich topped with garlic-herb jack cheese, maple-bacon aioli, crispy sweet potato bits, greens and tomato on sourdough.
There’s just something about even the best chicken patty that takes me back to elementary school lunches. Even when made with the best ingredients, the consistency and texture make the patty feel processed. I think I would have loved this sandwich if it had been a cut of chicken breast.
All of other components were very good, but I didn’t think the patty allowed them to shine.
Sandwiches are served with your choice of side – salad, house pickles or hummus with vegetables. Additional options – like the cornbread that I ordered – are availble for an added charge.
Though the portion was relatively small, the cornbread was excellent. It was obviously homemade – with whole kernels of corn and plenty of flavor.
Julie originally told me that she wanted the chorizo curtido burrito before changing her mind and opting for one of the Farmhouse Trough bowls, the #sweetpotatohashtag.
Unforuntately, I am a man so I don’t always remember – or listen – so she got the burrito. (Next time, I will sit with Jakob and she will order for me).
The breakfast burrito was stuffed with scrambled eggs, chorizo sausage, curtido cabbage slaw, lime aioli and pepper jack cheese.
Her order not withstanding, Julie loves chorizo sausage in any dish, and this was no exception. The eggs helped tone down the spice – chorizo is about as spicy as Julie cares to eat. The slaw was good, too, but I don’t know that I would want that with my breakfast. For lunch though, everything worked.
For her side, I ordered her the vegetables with hummus. It was a very good hummus – simple and somewhat more composed than other hummus that I have tried at other restaurants. We would have liked some more veggies for dipping. The two baby carrots and two slices of cucumber were just not enough.
Going into the meal, we knew that we would be paying a premium for organic ingredients so I wasn’t surprised when our bill for lunch and two drinks was $42. Still, I would have liked just a little larger portion size – at least as far as the sides – for the price.
All of that said, I can see why Farmhouse Kitchen Organics is a popular stop, especially given the location in West Reading where people are used to paying a little bit more than in other places of Berks County.
It’s a cool little place and it has plenty to offer, particularly for those who want to live and eat better (they even offer classes around those topics).
Maybe it’s just not my kind of place.
Service: Very Good
Ambiance: Very Good
Price: Slightly Overpriced
The Farmhouse Kitchen
426 Penn Ave
West Reading, PA 19611