Four Twelve's Southern Comfort Pecan Waffle

Four Twelve

Four Twelve Exterior

Through this blog, I have been able to explore all corners of Berks County and beyond. It’s hard to spread the love around the county when there are so many deserving restaurants that I haven’t tried yet.

One area of the county that I’ve been fortunate to explore more recently is Hamburg. We’ve done blogs in the past at their two great barbecue joints – Backwoods Brothers and Smokin’ Brays – and we’ve visited the long-established Westy.

A month ago, we were in Hamburg for a very impressive dinner at the 1787 Brewing Company. Then on a recent Saturday morning we were back again, almost across the street at Four Twelve.

The coffee shop is located at 12 South Fourth Street (turn it around and you get Four Twelve) in the heart of Hamburg’s downtown business district.

Four Twelve Front Counter

We arrived around 8 a.m. on Saturday morning, much later than our usual breakfast time so we were very hungry by the time we walked through the door. While standing in line I noticed the sign for Passenger Coffee, the Lancaster County brand that was named best coffee in Pennsylvania by Food & Wine.I don’t drink coffee, but that seems like a pretty good endorsement.

Four Twelve Dining Room

The space feels very utilitarian – cold, in a way – with white walls and black accents. Floral centerpieces on the wood tables added a little color to an otherwise stark space. The exception to the rule was the community room, a small space in the back with an exposed brick wall that could be closed off for private functions.

Looking Out the Front Window of Four Twelve

Shortly after placing our order at the counter, a 20-man running group entered the shop pushing the line to the door. As their conversations picked up, the room began to echo. The runners placed their orders one-by-one and as they took their seats around the room the spacious coffee shop felt much smaller.

We were definitely fortunate to arrive in front of them.

Four Twelve Chai Latte

Though neither of us drink coffee, both Julie and I enjoy a good chai tea latte. They arrived to our table before our meals in large, well-used mugs. The chais were done beautifully, well spiced with plenty of whipped cream on top (Jakob especially enjoyed the whipped cream).

It was several more minutes before our food arrived. Four Twelve is known for their waffles and waffle sandwiches and we had ordered a variety to try.

Four Twelve's Southern Comfort Pecan Waffle

My choice was the “Southern Pecan Comfort,” a large bacon-infused Belgian waffle topped with pecans, bananas and whipped cream and served with maple syrup.

Four Twelve Southern Pecan Comfort Waffle

It was a beautiful sight to behold and it tasted as good as it looked. The waffle was cooked to order on one of two waffle irons and it was loaded with plenty of the good stuff, as advertised. Pieces of bacon were cooked directly into the waffle offering surprises in many bites while the bananas and whipped cream created a sweet and savory balance that I really enjoyed. The pecans were a great addition, too, adding a nutty crunch to the soft foods on the plate.

Four Twelve Pear Thyme Waffle Sandwich

Julie opted for the “pear thyme” waffle sandwich. It was topped with sliced pears, gouda cheese, honey and thyme. Combined with what were mostly sweet toppings, the thyme really shone through, giving the sandwich an earthy depth of flavor. It was a very good and very hearty sandwich.

Four Twelve Cinnamon Waffle Dippers

For Jakob, our 16-month-old, we went with a simpler dish: cinnamon waffle sticks with cream cheese icing for dipping. It was a special for the day and it was perfect for him. Though some of the outer edges were a little too dark for him, he loved both the icing and the waffles.

We enjoyed them, too, having to finish the order between us so as not to waste the sweet dippers. The waffles had a good amount of cinnamon and were delicious with the sweet cream on the side.

Four Twelve Front Window

All three of our breakfast orders were delicious and left us very full (Julie and I both skipped lunch. Jakob is a growing boy and was ready to eat again by the time we got home). And while it felt like we had been there all morning, it had only been an hour – our hunger upon arrival made it feel a lot longer.

Our total bill was $28. But with two chais at $4 apiece, a little less than $20 for three breakfasts seems like a more than fair price, especially with as full as we were when we were finished.

By the time we left, the runners had all been served and a steady stream of customers were flowing through the front door. There is no question that Four Twelve is a popular gathering place for coffee drinkers and guests hungry for a hearty breakfast.

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

Four Twelve
12 S. Fourth St
Hamburg, PA 19526

Breakfast & Brunch Cafes & Coffeeshops Reviews
Belly Kitchen Pan Perdu

Belly Kitchen & Drinkery

Goggleworks Center for the Arts

Editor’s Note: Belly Kitchen & Drinkery will be closing its Goggleworks location soon. A new partnership between Belly and West Reading’s Barley Mow Craft Beer House will see Belly’s staff taking over the kitchen operations. Googleworks leadership has announced a new restaurant will take Belly’s place, but no details have been announced yet.

Seven and a half years ago, in August 2011, Julie and I were married. And we celebrated with a reception at the Goggleworks. The downtown art center was the perfect venue for us.

On a recent Sunday afternoon, as Julie and I pulled into the parking lot, I realized that it had been seven and a half years since my last visit.

Belly Kitchen & Drinkery

We were back, this time to check out Belly Kitchen & Drinkery, the on-site bar and restaurant that opened last year. Located just off the main entrance, Belly’s dining area blends into the galleries. Our high top table had fine crafted wooden stools. The table itself was filled with sawdust – presumably from the wood studio. Stark metal tables and chairs were spread throughout the rest of the space. A duo – guitar and keyboard – played from a spot along the wall.

Belly Kitchen & Drinkery

I had heard good things about Belly’s Sunday Jazz Brunch. The weekly brunches started in December and feature a special menu with live local jazz musicians.

Belly Kitchen & Drinkery

The rest of the week, Belly is open for lunch and dinner with a menu that includes salads, sandwiches and apps. On Sundays the offerings expand to include inspired breakfast entrees like blueberry cheesecake crepes and breakfast nachos and lunch items like the vegetarian roast beet. They also have a full bar with mixed drinks and Sly Fox beer on tap.

Goggleworks Center for the Arts

Meals are ordered at the bar/counter area. I noticed a large box full of novelty stress toys on the counter. These were handed out to customers in lieu of numbers.

I was handed a lightbulb. “I’ll give you this because you look bright.”

“Tell that to my wife,” I replied, getting the slightest obligatory laugh.

A day before our visit, I saw a Facebook post advertising the brunch. It featured a photo of the Brooklyn pan perdu. It was not a dish that I had heard of or seen on any other Berks County menu, but the moment I saw it, I knew I had to try it.

Belly Kitchen Pan Perdu

It looked like French toast, and it essentially is, but instead of a white bread, it’s made with Green’s chocolate babka, a sweet kosher bread. After an egg wash and some time on the grill, it was topped with a salted caramel maple drizzle and served with a yogurt “smear” with pieces of Cinnamon Toast Crunch.

Belly Kitchen Brooklyn Pan Perdu

While it may have looked like French toast, there was no mistaking this for any other dish  I have ever tried. It was so rich and the chocolate flavor really shined through in every bite. The glaze melted away and made it perfectly sweet. I savored every bite of my two slices of babka. When I was done, I wished I had another order that I could dig into, not because I was hungry, but because they were that good.

Belly Kitchen Durham Plate

Julie’s brunch was even more intricate. She had ordered the Durham plate, two stacks of breakfast goodness that started with a buttermilk biscuit. The biscuits were topped with fried green tomatoes, maple glazed sausage patties, pimento cheese, poached eggs and cornbread crumble.

Every ingredient was done to perfection and they came together so well. In the bite she let me try, the sausage shined through, but for Julie, the first thing she noticed was the fried green tomatoes. The egg ran into the nooks and crannies of the biscuit. Every bite was a little different, but all of them were delicious.

Belly Kitchen Durham Plate

The plate was garnished with potato sticks, another classic snack from childhood that neither of us had tasted in a long time, but one that was definitely enjoyed.

Add on a strawberry lemonade and a bottle of water from the fridge and we spent around $30 for our meal.

And it was a memorable meal at that.

I won’t say that our visit to Belly Kitchen & Drinkery was as memorable as our wedding reception – that would be hard to top.

But when it comes to the food, Belly Kitchen wins, hands down. Our wedding made the Goggleworks a special place for us. Belly makes it a place we want to hang out all the time.

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

Belly Kitchen & Drinkery
Goggleworks Center for the Arts
201 Washington St
Reading, PA 19601

Breakfast & Brunch Reviews
Shillington Farmers Market Bacon Egg Cheese

Shillington Farmers Market Cafe

Shillington Farmers Market Cafe

In the past year, Berks County Eats has experienced the re-emergence of the Shillington Farmers Market through great meals. We’ve fallen in love with the Brocmar taco at Brocmar Smokehouse and rekindled our love of empanadas at Mi Casa Su Casa Cafe.

Among the dining options added to the market in past 12 months is the Shillington Farmers Market Cafe, a no-frills eatery tucked in a corner of the market behind Max Crema’s Coffee.

Shillington Farmers Market Cafe

The Cafe feels like a small diner. You can watch the meals being prepared in the tiny kitchen behind the counter as a wait staff of two takes care of the customers in front. It had a decent crowd during our visit, though there were tables available in the small dining room throughout our meal.

Julie, Jakob and I settled in at a table for four and menus were dropped off promptly and we were served soon after.

Shillington Farmers Market Cafe

I ordered three blueberry pancakes (the plan being that I would share my meal with Jakob, my nearly year-old son who recently discovered his love for pancakes).

Shillington Farmers Market Cafe Blueberry Pancakes

The pancakes were thick and fluffy with large whole blueberries inside. It was served with a cup of butter on the side (or on top, rather) and syrup. The pancakes were very good and there was plenty of fruit, but I did need the syrup. It was sweet enough without it, but a little dry. The syrup took care of that and the pancakes were a hit with both myself and Jakob.

Two-thirds of the way through, Jakob and I both had enough. It was then that our server said, “I’ve never seen anyone eat the whole thing.” I’m half-tempted to return now just to try to take on the three-pancake stack myself.

Shillington Farmers Market Bacon Egg Cheese

Julie was able to finish her fried egg, bacon and cheese on toast. From-scratch sandwiches like this are always better than the fast-food versions and Julie certainly enjoyed hers. She also was a fan of the hash browns which she said were done perfectly.

My corned beef hash – hash browns with sliced corned beef – were not cooked as perfectly. While I enjoyed the use of fresh sliced corned beef, the potatoes were burnt. Thankfully, I didn’t need it anyway.

Shillington Farmers Market Cafe Corned Beef Hash

Also, and I can’t believe this, but our meal was only $15. That was with an apple juice and an orange juice in addition to our food. That’s a good value, especially considering neither Julie nor I were hungry for lunch after such a robust breakfast.

The Cafe may not be the fanciest restaurant in Berks County, and it’s only open three days a week (Thursday through Saturday) with the Farmers Market, but it’s a good little spot for a no-fuss meal.

And with Brocmar Smokehouse and Mi Casa Su Casa Cafe, the Shillington Farmers Market is definitely worth a visit.

BCE Rating
Food: Good
Service: Very Good
Ambiance: Fair
Value: Bargain

Shillington Farmers Market Cafe
10 S. Summit Ave
Shillington, PA 19607

Breakfast & Brunch Farmers Market Meals Reviews

Crossroads Family Restaurant

At the intersection of Routes 222 and 61 is one of Berks County’s busiest diners.

The stainless steel exterior of Crossroads Family Restaurant can’t be seen from 222, but driving north or south along Route 61, you can’t miss the shining building with the packed parking lot.

We visited on a recent Saturday morning and found the parking lot almost at capacity. Lucky for us there were a few select spaces left in the last row of the lot.

Crossroads is the quintessential diner. Rows of booths and tables span the large dining area. Two private rooms – one on either side of the building – are separated by glass windows. We watched as one of the rooms emptied out, and the windows were slid along a track in the ceiling to open up the space for more seating.

Despite its size, Crossroads had no problem filling the tables on this Saturday morning. We had a five minute wait when we arrived at 8:30, but as many people as were beginning to wait, just as many people were filing out to pay at the register, which was flanked on either side by cases full of tempting cakes, pies and baked goods. Behind the register, I was surprised to see a fully stocked bar.

After our brief wait, we were led into the main dining room where Julie and I sat at a booth with Jakob next to us, car seat atop a high chair. As usual, Jakob was the center of attention, with waitresses and other staff stopping by to take a peek at the four-month-old with us.

We perused the robust breakfast menu: skillets, French toast, pancakes, waffles, eggs and an array of sides. I joked about going big with my side and ordering the 14-ounce ham steak (no joke, this is a real side dish. As is the eight-ounce black diamond steak).

I still went big, opting for the L.A. cinnamon roll French toast with a side of corned beef hash.

You may remember my cinnamon roll French toast from Jukebox Cafe in Boyertown where I enjoyed an actual cinnamon roll that was made a la French toast. This was different: two thick slices of cinnamon swirl bread with a vanilla glaze.

The glaze was light – not a thick icing but a subtle glaze that provided enough sweetness that butter or syrup would have been overkill. The cinnamon toast itself was very good with big cinnamon swirls.

The L.A. cinnamon roll French toast is not one of the breakfast items that is available all day, which is a shame because it would make a great dessert.

On the side, my corned beef hash was more than I needed. The hash was tightly formed and cut in half. It was good if a little on the salty side (though in fairness, I think I’m much more sensitive to salt than most). I would have been satisfied with half the order, but I finished it anyway.

Julie went with a more traditional breakfast of eggs, potatoes, toast and bacon. While she enjoys all of the above, she ordered it specifically for the homefries, which she requested deep-fried.

After visiting Crossroads several times with some of the ladies from our church, Julie had learned of the deep-fried homefries and couldn’t wait to order them. The deep-fried potatoes were crispier and more flavorful than if they had been pan-fried.

The combo meal was only $5.95 so Julie didn’t feel so guilty about leaving a couple slices of toast.

Both of us ate enough at breakfast to skip lunch so I would say the $20 we paid (I had a $2 orange juice on the bill as well) was more than fair.

It was my first visit to the restaurant, and I left impressed and full. There’s no doubt that Berks County has no shortage of places to grab a good breakfast, and Crossroads is definitely among them.

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

Crossroad Family Restaurant
4643 Pottsville Pk
Reading, PA 19605

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

Breakfast & Brunch Diners Reviews

Brooks Cafe

Brooks Cafe in Douglassville, PA

It’s not often that Julie and I get to go out for breakfast.

During the week, my commute to King of Prussia is a major hindrance to enjoying a morning meal together so we end up going out for dinner much more often.

So we usually reserve breakfast trips for weekends and holidays. And on Labor Day, with Julie and I hosting dinner, we decided to treat ourselves to breakfast.

We needed a restaurant that was open, and one that we hadn’t yet checked off our list. The name at the top was Brooks Cafe.

The specials sound amazing too.

Brooks Cafe is tucked in a strip mall along westbound 422 in Douglassville. The location was formerly home to Don Julio Mexican Restaurant (whose logo still appears on the marquee along with Brooks’).

The breakfast-and-lunch joint took over the space in 2016 and has made it their own. Posters and portraits of Audrey Hepburn in her famous Breakfast at Tiffany’s style cover the walls around the dining area.

Brooks Cafe is much larger than it looks from the outside.

The dining room itself is much larger than expected. There is seating for at least 80 – fourteen tables, five booths and one combination of the two fill the room. Audrey watches over them all.

Also larger than expected: the menu. Breakfast is two full pages, with a wide selection of bowls, omelets, eggs, pancakes, waffles and French toast.

When I say a wide selection of French toast, I’m not just talking about toppings. I’m talking about French toasted croissants, banana nut bread, cinnamon buns, and my choice – Hawaiian bread.

Mmm...Hawaiian bread French toast

Brooks’ Hawaiian bread French toast featured three slices of Hawaiian bread (duh) topped with stripes of pineapple, toasted coconut and yogurt.

The meal was also served with a cup of pancake syrup that I found entirely unnecessary. Hawaiian bread has a sweeter flavor to begin. The pineapple – and to a lesser extent, the coconut – added to that. And the yogurt gave it the same consistency.

It was a filling and enjoyable start to the day – quite a pick-me-up.

The best kind of homefries

Not being able to help myself, I also ordered a side of homefries. Everyone does homefries a little bit differently, and these were the kind that I like best – large slices of potato that are browned on one side and perfectly soft on the other.

While I always go for the French toast, Julie leans toward pancakes. And at Brooks, it was banana nut pancakes.

The pancakes had walnuts cooked into them with slices of banana and a dusting of powdered sugar on top.

Banana nut pancakes and bacon. Don't forget the bacon.

I always enjoy walnuts in pancakes – for both the flavor and the crunchy texture that they add. It contrasts nicely with the soft banana slices and melt-in-your-mouth pancakes.

Unlike me, Julie was not shy about adding syrup to her pancakes. Either way, they were also very good.

She also couldn’t resist an order of bacon. Crispy, savory bacon. There’s not much else to say about them.

The only other thing left to say about Brooks Cafe is that it is priced perfectly. We both had excellent breakfasts, left feeling full (too full for a real lunch) and spent less than $20.

Everything combined to make our first visit to Brooks one to remember.

And while Julie and I may not dine out for breakfast as often as we would like, Brooks is on my way to work. So I will definitely stop in again.

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

Brooks Cafe
1139 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy
Douglassville, PA 19518

Brooks Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Breakfast & Brunch Cafes & Coffeeshops Reviews
Julie's blueberry-banana smoothie bowl with almond milk and granola.

The Green Bean Cafe – CLOSED

The Green Bean Cafe Wyomissing

Editor’s Note: The Green Bean Cafe is now closed. The owner reopened the location as a new concept, The Meat Up Delicatessen, in May 2018 before closing less than two months later.

I always get excited when a new restaurant opens up, but the Green Bean Cafe was a different level of excitement for me.

It’s not just that Berks County would be getting an all-organic cafe, but that the all-organic cafe would be just blocks away from my house.

Having walked past the Park Road strip mall that now houses the cafe (the same one where you will find Mikura Asian Bistro and Nino’s Italian Restaurant), we had peeked in at the renovations and watched as the mural came to life behind the counter.

Inside the Green Bean Cafe in Wyomissing, PA.

So we decided to make the short walk to the cafe for Saturday morning breakfast during its opening week.

It was a little before 9 a.m. when we arrived, and there was only one other customer – a lone woman seated at one of four tables on the sidewalk in front of the building.

Animated vegetables adorn the walls of the bathrooms at the Green Bean Cafe

We walked in and picked up a menu, browsing the list of breakfast bruschetta power toast – five different choices including the “Stress Buster” (hazelnut spread with bananas and coconut flakes) and the “Tummy Tower” (avocado, black pepper, sea salt and housemade hummus).

The owner, who was behind the counter to take our order, told us that it had been a good first week, but that lunch was definitely more popular than breakfast.

Lunch options at the cafe include salads, paninis and vegetable noodle dishes – spiralized sweet potato, butternut squash or zucchini roasted with olive oil, sea salt and pepper (additional proteins optional).

The dining area of the Green Bean Cafe

The cafe also offers waffles, egg sandwiches, and a dish called the sweet potato nest: sweet potato noodles filled with an egg, accompanied by sliced tomato, avocado and toast.

But both Julie and I were looking for a sweeter morning so we decided to create our own smoothie bowls.

Green Bean’s smoothie bowls are completely customizable with your choice of base – vanilla yogurt, milk, coconut milk or almond milk), fruit, vegetables, sweeteners (almond butter, peanut butter, honey or sugar) and toppings (like chia seeds, granola or coconut flakes).

A strawberry-orange smoothie bowl with almond milk and sliced almonds.

My bowl consisted of an almond milk base with strawberries and oranges. It was sweetened with honey and topped with sliced almonds.

While it is essentially a smoothie, it is served in a bowl like a chilled soup. It took about 10 minutes for our bowls to be delivered to the table, and they certainly looked every bit as appetizing as they sounded.

The strawberries gave my smoothie its distinct red speckled coloring, but the oranges definitely shone through in the flavor. There was just enough honey to add another layer of sweetness.

While the almonds were listed as a topping, many of them had sank into the smoothie so every bite also had a nutty crunch. The almonds also helped make it more hearty, adding healthful fats that were also filling.

Julie's blueberry-banana smoothie bowl with almond milk and granola.

Julie’s bowl, like mine, started with almond milk. But that’s where the similarities ended. she added blueberries and bananas as her fruits, a little almond butter to thicken it, and topped it off with granola.

The blueberries were front and center, but you could taste all of the ingredients – the bananas and the almond butter both came through. Like the almonds in my dish, the granola added some needed crunch to the dish.

Looking at our two bowls next to each other, Julie felt like I had a little bit more. And she unfortunately was still a little hungry at the end so she grabbed a muffin to go.

Julie taking her gluten free muffin to go.

The gluten free muffins, ironically enough, were also blueberry and banana flavored. They weren’t very large, but it was a needed addition to fill her up until lunch.

With the muffin added on (plus a bottle of water to drink), we spent a total of $25. Organic is not cheap, and the smoothie bowls at $9.95 each were actually among the most expensive items on the menu, breakfast or lunch.

Being so close to the cafe, Julie and I both agreed that we would go back, but we would definitely order differently. If we ordered the smoothie bowls, we would also get one of the power toasts or waffles to split. It would be a little more expensive, but it would be more filling. Or we would each get our own toast and split the smoothie bowl.

Either way, we will be back. It’s too close not to give it another try.

The Green Bean Cafe
840 N. Park Rd
Wyomissing, PA 19610

The Green Bean Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Breakfast & Brunch Closed Reviews

CD’s Place

cd-s-place-exterior

Waiting is the hardest part of every meal. The long wait I had for my meal at CD’s Place had nothing to do with service.

Allow me to explain.

The restaurant prioritizes its catering business, closing the Boyertown restaurant whenever they have a catering engagement.

It must be working for them because there have been many Saturdays that I have wanted to visit, only to see on Facebook that they are closed for catering.

Good for them. Bad for this food blogger.

Finally, the stars aligned and I saw the following post on Wednesday: “HEY! We’re actually gonna be open our regular hours this week!!”

I knew where we were going to lunch.

cd-s-place-interior

Julie and I arrived in Boyertown a little before noon and pulled in behind the distinctive cup-shaped building.

The building is a real throwback, an example of roadside architecture that you just don’t see anymore. But it also has its drawbacks, including an awkwardly small seating area with tables for two and the longest counter seating area that I have ever seen.

Somehow it all just adds to the charm of the place.

Now that I was finally there, there was really only one question remaining: what the heck was I going to eat?

cd-s-place-jamaican-omelet

It was lunch time, but breakfast is served all day. I think I found the perfect way to do both: the Jamaican omelet. It’s a hearty omelet filled with jerk chicken and fried onions, served with a side of homefries.

First surprise, the chicken was chunked, not shredded or pulled. I’ve never had jerk chicken that was cubed before. Second surprise, it was really good jerk chicken.

Not too spicy, not too salty, it was the right blend of spice to fill an omelet. And fried onions, as I’ve mentioned before in this blog, make everything better for me.

The homefries were simple, just fried red-skinned potatoes. Nothing fancy, but it doesn’t need to be when you use the more flavorful potato variety.

cd-s-place-two-eggs-over-baked-corn-andouille-hash

Julie, meanwhile, couldn’t stop raving about her meal of two eggs over baked corn andouille hash.

Eggs are eggs, but the hash was definitely worth talking about. She only allowed me one bite, but it was a great bite.

The hash is an original, unlike anything I’ve found anywhere else. The sausage was tasty choice, but what really stood out was the corn that added an unexpected sweetness to the dish. It was a delicious, hearty breakfast that made for a great lunch, too.

In true diner fashion, the food was fast and reasonably priced. Our two meals were just $17 (full disclosure, we only had water to drink).

Finally, I have tasted CD’s Place and it is everything I had hoped for and more. It’s one of the most unique, funkiest joints (sorry, I’m watching Guy Fieri as I write this) in Berks County.

Just be sure to check ahead to make sure they’re open.

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

CD’s Place
237 N Reading Ave.
Boyertown, PA 19512

C D's Place Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Breakfast & Brunch Cafes & Coffeeshops Diners Reviews
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

Road Trip: Au Bon Lieu – Hershey

au-bon-lieu

About once a year, Julie and I find ourselves in Hershey for a quick getaway.

We don’t go to the park (too hot, too crowded), but find plenty of other things to do — a Paul McCartney concert, for instance.

By skipping Hersheypark, it also gives us a chance to visit the downtown area and discover new dining spots. On this trip, we found Hershey’s only French creperie, Au Bon Lieu.

au-bon-lieu-chef

Au Bon Lieu is not easy to find. It’s set back from the road, almost hidden behind the Chocolate Avenue Grill.

Even after finding the parking lot, we weren’t sure we were in the right place. The creperie shares the parking lot with the much larger, Phillip Arthur’s Cafe, and the only thing to distinguish it is the stained glass Eiffel Tower in the window.

au-bon-lieu-julie

It’s a small shop, maybe 10 tables total (a few of them were pushed together for a large group). The walls are beautifully painted, the one behind us sporting a large Eiffel Tower on a pink and purple background.

We grabbed a table in the back corner of the room beneath a speaker playing a mix of Beatles and Wings songs, this being the day after Paul McCartney’s concert at the Hersheypark Stadium.

au-bon-lieu-chalk

With only two crepe griddles, wait times can vary depending on the number of customers. But Au Bon Lieu helps you pass the time. On every table is a small dish, filled with pieces of chalk. Guests are encouraged to doodle as they wait for the crepes.

Each of the menu items are numbered 1-95, and we were asked to write our own orders on the pad while the chef worked the grill for the other guests who were already in the queue. The number system is a little deceiving, however, as there are “only” about 50 options.

I went sweet. Julie went savory.

au-bon-lieu-strawberry-dark-chocolate-crepe

My sweet crepe included Belgian dark chocolate (sorry, Hershey) inside with fresh strawberries and powdered sugar on top.

While making the crepe, the chef took a large block of chocolate and pressed it on the crepe, spreading it around as it melted. He invited Julie to come over and taste a spoonful of the chocolate, and she was more than happy to indulge.

The presentation is absolutely stunning. It’s in sharp contrast to the room, which was more than a little unorganized.

Our “server,” a friend of the chef who was just helping out, thought the sweet crepe was going to Julie and had the chef put a little heart on it (a nice touch for all of the ladies). Usually, men would get the Batman symbol.

It tasted as good as it looked. The dark chocolate was thick and semi-sweet. There may be nothing better than warm, melted dark chocolate. The strawberries were fresh and sweet. It was a perfect sugary start to the morning.

au-bon-lieu-egg-and-cheese-crepe

Julie’s savory crepe featured mozzarella cheese inside and an egg on top (plus a piece of lettuce for garnish). She compared it to a lighter version of an egg sandwich, with the crepe replacing the bagel or English muffin.

Her crepe was a little heavier than mine, though both were enough to get us through the morning. And for the two of us, it was only $15 for two crepes and our two drinks.

For Julie and I, our yearly road trip to Hershey was a memorable one. And Au Bon Lieu was a memorable meal.

It was a sweet day, and we didn’t even visit the park.

Au Bon Lieu
110 W. Chocolate Ave
Hershey, PA 17033

Au Bon Lieu Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Breakfast & Brunch Cafes & Coffeeshops Reviews