Gourmand Cafe Veggie Panini

Gourmand Cafe – West Reading

Gourmand Cafe West Reading Exterior

By now, most Berks County residents know the name Gourmand. It started with the food truck that introduced the county to “artisan street food.” That was followed by multiple brick-and-mortar locations (some that have already come and gone).

The Gourmand brand has truly been everywhere around Berks County.

In March, Gourmand expanded their empire again, this time opening a cafe amid the busy dining scene in West Reading.

Gourmand Cafe Interior 2

The Gourmand Cafe sits on the 700 block of Penn Avenue in the former Relish, a cafe and coffee shop that operated for about two years.

I visited on a Friday afternoon in July and found a much quieter place than I was expecting. Only one other table was filled  as a mother and daughter enjoyed lunch by the front window.

Gourmand Cafe Interior 1

The menu written on the chalkboard behind the counter didn’t match the printed one. The burgers advertised on the chalkboard, I was told, were no longer available. Unfortunately a chalkboard artist had not been brought in yet to scroll the new menu.

What was left on the menu was mostly light fare like avocado toast, bagels, breakfast sandwiches and salads. A few sandwiches were available and ultimately I settled on a veggie panini.

It was a surprisingly hearty vegetarian entree consisting of (as listed on the menu) pressed sourdough with hummus, cucumber, mushroom pate, avocado, arugula and balsamic reduction.

Gourmand Cafe Veggie Panini

The hummus was easily my favorite part. It has a great flavor (read Julie’s review of the other Gourmand Cafe for more on their hummus) and it is an excellent base to start a sandwich. The cucumber, especially, mixed really well with it, and avocado is always a hit with me. It’s not the gut-busting Berks sandwich, but it was very good.

With no fryer, there are no fries. Instead, all sandwiches are served with Gourmand’s seasoned pretzels. The broken hard pretzels are coated with ranch flavoring for a simple, but good side.

On a whim, I also ordered a strawberry bubble tea to accompany my meal. It was refreshing and a nice change of pace from my usual unsweetened iced tea.

Gourmand Cafe Strawberry Bubble Tea

I certainly enjoyed my meal, but it wasn’t what I was expecting. Gourmand’s West Reading location doesn’t really fit with the brand. My past Gourmand experiences have included a fried sweet bologna sandwich, pastrami and cheese-topped fries, and an Italian steak sandwich. The West Reading menu is the complete opposite.

It doesn’t help that the updated menu (sans burgers) isn’t available online. The only menu posted on Gourmand’s Facebook page is from the restaurant’s opening and includes four burger options. Gourmand’s website only features the menu for the Berkshire Cafe with items like truffled goat cheese fries and ahi ceviche fish tacos. 

The food was very good. The cafe had a nice vibe to it. Even with the bubble tea my meal was less than $15. And I can’t complain about the service, but I still felt a little disappointed.

As I finished up my meal, I heard the manager tell someone that the Cafe is Gourmand’s healthy alternative.

I guess I’m just more of an “artisan street food” kind of guy.

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

Gourmand Cafe
715 Penn Ave
West Reading, PA 19611

Cafes & Coffeeshops Reviews Vegan & Vegetarian
Cinnamon Roll Pancakes from Wild Sage Coffee and Kitchen

Wild Sage Coffee & Kitchen

Wild Sage Coffee and Kitchen Exterior

When it opened in Spring 2017, Wild Sage Coffee and Kitchen brought a unique vibe and menu to downtown Reading.

For the first year and a half after it opened, the cafe’s hours were limited to weekday breakfast and lunch: great for those who live and work and downtown Reading but not great for people like me with a long commute.

Inside Wild Sage Coffee and Kitchen

Then last fall, Wild Sage introduced weekend hours, serving brunch every Saturday and Sunday. Now two years after Wild Sage opened for business, Julie and I finally had an opportunity to visit the little cafe on Washington Street.

The location is convenient to the downtown business district along the 700 block of Washington. We arrived to find the block parked full. Thankfully the Poplar and Walnut garage is right around the corner (the charge for up to an hour is $2 but we actually didn’t have to pay anything when we put the ticket in the machine).

Looking out the front window of Wild Sage Coffee and Kitchen

Before Wild Sage took over, the stone town home housed a doctor’s office. The decor inside is simple with gray walls and a hardwood floor. The walls featured paintings and drawings from local artists. The bells on the door jangled with every passing car. “Our ghost,” one employee joked as the sound caught my attention.

On weekends, the full menu – both breakfast and lunch – are available along with a select few brunch-only specials. The menu changes seasonally but always features soups, salads, sandwiches and grain bowls for lunch with sandwiches, toast, fruit bowls and select sweets at breakfast.

Wild Sage Coffee and Kitchen Teas

And of course they have a full menu of specialty drinks that includes coffee, tea, smoothies and more. I decided to try the iced chai tea while Julie went with a cold brewed tea.

Chai lattes are a favorite of mine, but not everyone offers a cold version of the spiced tea so I was excited to see it on Wild Sage’s menu. It did not disappoint. It had the right blend of chai spice and creamy milk to make for a refreshing mid-morning drink. Julie also enjoyed her lavender lemon tea – unsweetened but with a strong, relaxing lavender flavor.

For our meals, I stuck with the breakfast side of the menu while Julie went with lunch.

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes from Wild Sage Coffee and Kitchen

My sweet tooth told me to order the cinnamon roll pancakes: two pancakes topped with a cream cheese glaze and candied walnuts with cinnamon sugar. They were a true indulgence.

The cream cheese glaze was  delicious and the walnuts added some nice texture. But it was the cinnamon sugar, which had been nicely caramelized, that really hit on the perfect flavor combination.

I had also ordered a hash brown waffle, one of the sides listed on the brunch-only menu. Unfortunately I was told that it was no longer being offered. Instead of replacing it with bacon or a fried egg (the only other sides listed) I stuck with just the pancakes. I probably could have eaten something else but I really didn’t need to so in the end I didn’t miss it.

Wild Sage Red Pepper Soup

For her lunch, Julie went with a soup and sandwich combo. For the soup, she opted for their roasted red pepper soup. It was topped with feta cheese and balsamic drizzle, the former added a tang and a little creaminess.

The only complaint was that it could have been hotter. It was warm, but it wasn’t the steaming cup of hot soup that would be expected.

Wild Sage Maple Bacon Sandwich

Her maple bacon sandwich was also a winner in her book. It featured turkey, apple, cheddar cheese, bacon and a maple spread on thick-cut white toast.

Turkey, bacon and cheddar always go well together, and Julie enjoyed the addition of the maple spread -a sweet sauce – and the apples which gave the sandwich a crunchy texture.

Our meal was very good all around. And even with our two drinks, we spent less than $30 so I’d say it was a good deal as well.

I’m glad that Wild Sage added weekend hours so those of us outside the city can enjoy this great little cafe downtown. Hopefully more guests will take advantage of it because it seemed like a relatively slow day during what would be considered the lunch rush.

At least I can say that we will be back.

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

Wild Sage Coffee & Kitchen
731 Washington St
Reading, PA 19601

Brunch Cafes & Coffeeshops Reviews
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
Park Road Cafe Sleasy Caprese

Park Road Cafe

The Park Road Cafe is one of Berks County’s newest restaurants. Named for the Wyomissing street where it sits in a shopping center, the restaurant took over the former Green Bean Cafe (later, Meat Up Delicatessen)

Both of its predecessors were short-lived. The former – an all-organic cafe – lasted about nine months. The latter – a New York-style deli – made it two more.

By mid-summer, the space was vacant and the transformation into the Park Road Cafe began. And you wouldn’t recognize the space from the inside. The new look is clean and bold. (The murals of vegetables had already been removed with the changeover to the deli).

The only “problem” we had with the change is the lack of seating. There are only about eight tables plus a small loveseat and matching chair in the corner. And to be fair, there wasn’t a lot of seating before, either.

Another couple claimed the couch and Julie took the chair – the last seat available in the room. That left me sitting on the window ledge. (There are more tables outside, but winter has arrived early so they’re not getting much use).

The menu isn’t large, but that’s not a bad thing. I’ll take quality over quantity any day. And the food at the Park Road Cafe is definitely quality.

With only seven sandwich options to choose from at lunch, our decisions were easy. For me, it was the Sleasy Caprese. It’s a dirty-sounding name, but a delicious sandwich with grilled chicken, basil pesto, mozzarella, tomato, balsamic glaze and rosemary butter served on wheatberry oat bread.

I didn’t get much of a taste for the rosemary butter, but I loved everything else. The ingredients tasted fresh and vibrant and there was just enough balsamic to give it the distinct flavor without overpowering everything. And the bread held up nicely and never got soggy, always a bonus.

Julie’s Aww Brie sandwich came served on an equally sturdy brioche bun. Sliced turkey, melted brie, garlic aioli, arugula and berry jam made for a unique flavor experience.

Sure, it was reminiscent of a Thanksgiving-inspired sandwich, but the garlic aioli added depth of flavor that made it different enough to stand out.

Both sandwiches were served with kettle chips, an expected but enjoyable side.

We cleared our plates but neither of us felt like we had been cheated – comfortably full is how we felt after we had finished.

And we didn’t feel cheated on the price either. At a little more than $20, it was a fair price to pay for a lunch. I will say that it is not the fastest lunch that you are going to find in Berks County – it was a solid 20 minutes from the time we arrived until our food was brought to our table.

But I will take that wait when the food is this good.

Hopefully Park Road Cafe has hit on the recipe for success that it’s predecessors couldn’t.

So far, so good.

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

Park Road Cafe
840 N. Park Rd
Wyomissing, PA 19610

Cafes & Coffeeshops Lunch & Dinner Reviews Vegan & Vegetarian

The Farmhouse Kitchen

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.

BCE Rating:
Food: Good
Service: Very Good
Ambiance: Very Good
Price: Slightly Overpriced

The Farmhouse Kitchen
426 Penn Ave
West Reading, PA 19611

The Farmhouse Kitchen Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cafes & Coffeeshops Reviews

Morgantown Coffee House

I willingly admit that I am not an expert when it comes to all of Berks County. The closer we are to our home in Wyomissing, the more familiar I am with the restaurants and food places.

But I am always trying to grow my knowledge and explore parts of the county that I otherwise wouldn’t give a second thought to.

This week, Julie and I found ourselves in Morgantown for a consignment sale, and needing a place to grab lunch, we took the opportunity to seek out the Morgantown Coffee House, a highly rated breakfast-and-lunch place along Route 23, just a few hundred yards inside the border with Chester County.

Blink and you miss it. The building that houses Morgantown Coffee House looks more like a family home, but it actually houses three businesses: the Coffee House, Painted Table Designs, and Juniper Tree Juice Bar.

The parking lot sits behind the building, just off Twin Valley Road. From there, the entrance is not well-marked. The other two businesses are so by process of elimination, we found it behind Door No. 2.

It’s definitely a cool little spot – hipster farmhouse was how Julie described it. The front room had four large round tables. A second dining room, away from the crowds at the order counter, had several tables for two and four, plus some cushier seats for one.

Menus can be found on clipboards in baskets by the counter. After looking it over, we placed our orders, grabbed our seats and waited for our delivery.

It was a short wait, even shorter for our two incredible mocktails: a rosemary-honey cider and the fall lemonade.

The menu actually had a candied ginger cider, but I was told there was no more ginger syrup and was offered the rosemary-honey instead. And I was told that the rosemary-honey syrup was the best that the shop had created yet.

I was not disappointed at all. The apple cider base was accentuated by the sweet honey. Hints of rosemary throughout added little flavor bursts.

Julie’s fall lemonade featured raw honey and cinnamon, and was even better than my cider. The cinnamon gave it a real bite while the honey sweetened it perfectly.

Our food arrived a short time later. The lunch menu includes hot and cold sandwiches, salads and the soup du jour. I went with the soup – on this day, a tomato and red pepper bisque – with the banh mi sandwich.

It was a good tomato soup. The red pepper came through a little, but I enjoyed it. The sandwich, however, was the real star.

Banh mi is not on many Berks County menus so I was excited to find it on the menu in Morgantown. For those unfamiliar with it, banh mi is a traditional Vietnamese sandwich that includes a protein, pate and pickled vegetables.

In this case, the protein was pork belly (think bacon, but thicker and richer). It was also garnished with cilantro. The savory meat mixed with pickled vegetables made for a perfect mix.

And that dipping sauce – while potent in large doses – added heat while amplifying all of the flavors of the sandwich.

I loved everything about this sandwich…except the size. Even for a half-sandwich, it felt small. In hindsight, I should have ordered a full sandwich and soup to make it a more filling meal (and because I didn’t want to stop eating that banh mi).

Julie’s sandwich was a little more robust than my own.

She had the turkey club, which was topped with bacon, cucumbers and hopped mayo on white bread. All of the ingredients were fresh and vibrant, which made for a very good sandwich.

On the side, she had mixed greens with the housemade buttermilk ranch dressing. The salad was simple, but Julie loved the dressing.

Like mine, her meal was on the light side. However, we were both surprised to find that the meals held us over – for the most part – through the afternoon.

The meal was a little on the pricy side at about $30; $6 of that was splurging on the mocktails. The soup-and-sandwich combos were $11 each which is reasonable enough.

The coffee house is open for breakfast and lunch seven days a week (with hours until 5 p.m. on weekdays and Saturdays), and we will definitely be back to try the omelets, quiche and other breakfast offerings.

Also, the menu rotates seasonally. That gives us a built-in excuse to visit again in a few months.

Overall, the Morgantown Coffee House was a great find. It’s a little out of the way for us, but you have to be willing to explore to find hidden gems like this.

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

Morgantown Coffee House
4997 N. Twin Valley Rd
Elverson, PA 19520

Morgantown Coffee House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Cafes & Coffeeshops Lunch & Dinner 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

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

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

Andy Pepper’s

andy-pepper-s-exterior

Berks County Eats has taken me to a lot of crazy places. I’ve been to castles, strip malls, diners, dinner theaters, farmers markets, fire companies and food trucks.

But never did I expect to find Julie and I eating lunch in a post office.

To be fair, Andy Pepper’s isn’t exactly in the Limekiln Post Office. The two share a building — USPS on the left, restaurant on the right — just off of Oley Turnpike Road in the tiny village of Limekiln.

It’s an interesting location on a number of levels. Forget the awkward roommate, Limekiln is as off the beaten path as you can get in Berks County.

Yet when we arrived around lunchtime, the parking lot was busy as customers were coming and going through the front door.

For a small place, there was more seating than I expected, mostly at long, high-top tables with white tiled counter tops and purple trim.

andy-pepper-s-chocolate-milk-cranberry-lemonade

Three black menu boards hang at the order counter. The first lists the drinks (including the homemade chocolate milk and the cranberry lemonade that we got); the second, breakfast; the third, sandwiches.

One of the great things about Andy Pepper’s, as a place that serves only breakfast and lunch, the entire menu is always available so I got lunch while Julie got breakfast.

Bonus points go to Andy Pepper’s for the creative names for the sandwiches (the Joanie loves Srirachi is easily the most clever). My healthful flatbread was aptly named the Thin Lizzy.

andy-pepper-s-thin-lizzy

The Thin Lizzy features baby spinach, provolone, tomatoes, pesto and guacamole on a grilled flatbread. I’m not normally one for meatless meals, but I absolutely loved this sandwich.

It was simple, but the spinach and tomatoes were bright and fresh. The provolone was sliced thin so it had a nice sharp bite without being overpowering. The pesto was flavorful, and the guacamole was piled on so that delicious avocado and cilantro flavor was in every bite.

andy-pepper-s-potato-chips

On the side, I ordered warm, seasoned potato chips. The bag behind the counter said they were from the Billy Goat Chip Company in St. Louis, one of the few things at Andy Pepper’s that wasn’t homemade.

They were good chips, but warming them made them even better. It was a light seasoning (onion, garlic, spices and sugar, according to the company website), but it added a unique flavor that I really enjoyed.

andy-pepper-s-lemon-poppy-pancake-and-bacon

Julie went with breakfast for lunch, unable to resist one of the seasonal pancake flavors: lemon poppy seed.

We were warned that the pancakes usually come in orders of two, plate-sized pancakes so she just had a half order, and it was plenty. It was as big as advertised, and really soaked up the syrup. The citrusy flavor of the lemon gave the hearty pancake a light, summery flavor.

And what breakfast would be complete without bacon? Julie asked for a side of it and received four crispy, delicious slices on top of her pancake.

andy-pepper-s-zucchini-cornbread

In addition to our meals, we grabbed a couple slices of locally baked zucchini cornbread and a homemade blueberry sage jam. I only got a hint of zucchini, but the cornbread was more moist than most. The jam was amazing. It was very sweet, and it didn’t take much of it to get a lot of flavor.

That brought our total bill up to about $25. It was a little higher than we like to pay for lunch, but worth every penny.

Everything we had was either homemade or made with the freshest ingredients, and that makes all of the difference.

We enjoyed everything that we had on our visit and look forward to going back again for another meal at the post office.

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

Andy Pepper’s
820 Limekiln Rd
Limekiln, PA 19535

Andy Pepper's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Breakfast & Brunch Cafes & Coffeeshops Lunch & Dinner Reviews