Allgyer’s BBQ Corner

Allgyer's BBQ Corner features two warming tables full of meats and sides.

A few years ago, I dedicated a month to exploring the Fairgrounds Farmers Market and trying some of the many restaurants and food stands that the crowded market offers.  But even with a few more visits thrown in, we’ve only covered about half the market.

When I started a new job in Muhlenberg Township, I knew that I would be spending many a Thursday and Friday in the market, revisiting meals from the past and checking off more places on my list.

One of the stands that I was anxious to try was Allgyer’s BBQ Corner.

Chipped meats, roasted potatoes, and baked beans are among the items available at Allgyer's.

Formerly known as the Country BBQ Corner, Allgyer’s sits next to Matt’s Coney Island near the center of the market. It’s a relatively large stand with two sets of warming tables holding an assortment of meats and sides.

I decided to make a pair of visits to the stand to get a broader taste of their offerings. On my first trip, I went with one of their dinner entrees – beef cubes.

Allgyer's served its beef cubes in a Styrofoam cup.

The cubes were served in a Styrofoam cup (either the server assumed I was taking it to go or she was afraid I wouldn’t find a seat and would need to take it to go).

Meals at Allgyer's are served with a dinner roll. They also offer fresh-brewed sweet tea.

It was packed with the chunks of roast beef of varying sizes. They weren’t bad, but I was hoping for a more tender meat. I had to use a knife to cut the larger pieces, not an easy task when they are in a cup. But the flavor was good, especially toward the bottom where the peppery spice had collected in the pool of juice. I would consider getting it again, but definitely not at lunch time, especially because it came served with two sides, a roll and a drink.

For my sides, I ordered carrots and potatoes.

The barbecue carrots were were rolled in aluminum foil to keep them hot.

The barbecue carrots were very similar to those that I’ve enjoyed at Fisher’s Barbecue at the PA Dutch Farmers Market of Wyomissing. They are my go-to at that stand, and I really enjoyed them here.

Instead of the standard fries or wedges, Allgyer's serves potato skins .

Allgyer’s potatoes were actually a little better than Fisher’s. Instead of cutting them into wedges or fries, they were cut more like potato skins so they had some size and depth to them. Fried up, they were still soft. They were probably my favorite part of this visit.

Two weeks later, I was back again. This time I was going to keep the meal a little lighter with a sandwich and one side.

Allgyer's pulled pork sandwich was topped with their homemade BBQ sauce.

The stand was advertising their new pulled pork sandwich with homemade barbecue sauce. I couldn’t resist.

It was a mixed bag for me. I liked the sauce – it was definitely on the sweeter side and very enjoyable. But the meat was otherwise dry. Instead of serving it with a cup of sauce on the side, my server put it on for me, and it wasn’t quite enough to overcome the dryness of the pork. If they had been tossed together or I had a little bit more sauce for dipping, I think it would have been a much better sandwich.

The sweet potatoes aren't much to look at, falling apart in the aluminum foil, but they were delicious.

But the sweet potatoes I had on the side made up for it. While they aren’t much to look at – so soft that they fell apart when wrapped in the foil – they were delicious. I love the flavor of sweet potatoes and Allgyer’s didn’t have to add much as far as seasoning. If I went back, it would be hard to decided between the regular and sweet potatoes for my side dish.

The best part of Allgyer’s, like many of the market stands, is the price. There’s so little overhead compared to a brick-and-mortar restaurant that stands can charge a much lower price. My two meals combined were less than $20.

Timing is everything with the line. Sometimes you have to take a number, othertimes you could be the only one at the counter and be served right away. I was lucky on both of my visits that I had no wait, leaving me plenty of time to find a seat and enjoy my lunch without having to rush to get back to the office.

Allgyer’s is another solid market stand, another piece of the diverse offerings at the Fairgrounds Farmers Market, and one that I would enjoy again.

BCE Rating
Food: Good
Service: Very Good
Ambiance: Fair
Price: A Bargain

Allgyer’s BBQ Corner
Fairgrounds Farmers Market
2934 N. 5th Street Hwy
Reading, PA 19605

Barbecue Farmers Market Meals Lunch & Dinner 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

Plum Creek Farm

Last summer, my brother clued me in to a new ice cream place called Plum Creek Farm.

The small place had recently opened, and they were serving homemade soft serve ice cream. We checked it out and quickly fell in love with both the ice cream and the small farm market store.

Plum Creek operates seasonally so we got our last taste of it in the fall and awaited its reopening in April. This year brought an expanded menu of hot food items, new hard ice cream (not homemade but locally made) and more treats.

The hot food menu was definitely something we wanted to try. Last year, it was an evolving menu but it finally seems to be set, with sandwiches that include pulled pork, smoked sausage, pit beef and hot dogs; fresh-cut fries; homemade soups; and soft pretzels. (There are also salads if you want to save Calories for dessert).

We stopped by on a weeknight in early June and the line to order showed that the word is definitely out about Plum Creek.

It was a long wait for our dinners. That wasn’t the case for ice cream cones as an efficient ordering system had cones delivered before the customers even had paid. But for hot food, and for specialty desserts, it took time.

I stood and watched as cone after cone was handed off. Then a cup of soup. Occasionally, a sandwich. Finally, after what seemed like hours (it was probably 20 minutes), my name was called and our sandwiches were ready.

We dined at one of many picnic tables that make up the “dining area.” There are also Adirondack chairs, benches, all outside.

Maybe I was just really hungry, but from the first bite, I really enjoyed my pulled pork sandwich.

Now, I fully recognize that this pulled pork will never win a barbecue competition. But it was still very good. The sauce was sweeter than most, almost a little too sweet, but I think what really made the sandwich was Plum Creek’s seasoning. It was sprinkled on as the sandwich was constructed. The basic salt and pepper were there with additional spices. It wasn’t spicy, but it added little hits of flavor to every bite.

The seasoning was even better, in my opinion, on Julie’s pit beef sandwich. She thought it was a little salty, but I thought it worked.

Her sandwich was served with cheese (that’s the standard at Plum Creek; I opted for mine without). It’s not the norm for barbecue, but Julie enjoyed this change of pace.

Both sandwiches were served on Kaiser rolls that served their purpose, holding in all of the meat and sauce without crumbling.

We both really enjoyed the side of fries that we shared. They most closely resembled the shoestring fries that you’ll find locally at Austin’s and Coastal Grille. The fries were cut very thin and short, making it easy to pick up a handful at once. And they came out piping hot – I can only assume this was what delayed our order.

Of course we couldn’t come to Plum Creek without getting ice cream. And even though we were comfortably full after dinner, we couldn’t resist trying some of their signature desserts.

My sweet of choice was the pie a la mode. I chose the shoo-fly pie (strawberry is also available) and have to admit that I was a little disappointed in the pie. It drier than it looked with a rather plain crust. But the homemade vanilla soft serve was excellent. It’s a heavy ice cream that is better and more flavorful than your typical soft serve mix.

I probably would have been happier – and certainly more comfortable – had I just settled for a cone of vanilla.

Julie was not disappointed with her strawberry shortcake, though she would also admit that she didn’t need that much food.

The shortcake was topped with strawberries (you can buy Plum Creek’s fresh-picked strawberries from their store), strawberry sauce, vanilla ice cream and whipped cream. Everything about this was excellent, but there’s just nothing better than fresh strawberries and a homemade strawberry sauce on a shortcake.

One downside of the way we did things was that we had to go through the line a second time. While Julie stood in line for dessert, I gave Jakob a bottle so it worked out. But we spent a long evening – and around $35 – at Plum Creek.

Last year, I could have argued that Plum Creek Farm was a hidden gem. But with long lines on an ordinary weeknight, I’d say the word is already out.

But those crowds won’t scare us away this summer, and they shouldn’t scare you away either.

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

Plum Creek Farm
5035 Bernville Rd
Bernville, PA 19506

Dessert Farmers Market Meals Lunch & Dinner Reviews

Brocmar Smokehouse – Shillington Farmers Market

One of the bigger stories in Berks County’s food scene last year was the sale of the Shillington Farmers Market.

Julie and I had visited the market about three years ago and were so disappointed in the offerings that we never went back.

But there’s a renewed energy around the market. New stands are opening, and old favorites like Betty’s Salads are returning.

Among the new stands to arrive is Brocmar Smokehouse. The barbecue business opened in the market in December after spending the summer building its brand at events around Berks County.

Reading Royals fans may already be familiar with the Brocmar name. Before opening their Shillington location, Brocmar got a head start, operating a small stand at the Santander Arena during Royals home games.

But the Farmers Market takes the business to another level, giving the business a physical location, regular hours and a greater potential reach.

The Farmers Market hours make it difficult for us to get there for dinner, but an underwhelming snowstorm was enough to close my office and allow us to make it to Brocmar long before the market’s 6 p.m. closing time.

While the Farmers Market is certainly a step forward for the business, it doesn’t allow for much of a dine-in experience. There are only two round tables – enough to seat eight at the most.

As Julie and I looked over the menu board, a woman sitting at one of the tables said “everything here is good.” She was waiting for a take-out order, her third in three weeks from the Smokehouse, she said.

A father and son stood in front of us in line, a written order in hand that seemed to include one of everything on the menu. That was fine with us as it gave us plenty of time to settle on our choices.

Julie and I pulled up chairs at one of the tables with Jakob in the stroller next to us. Fifteen minutes or so passed before our food was delivered and we got our first taste of Brocmar.

Passing on turkey, sausage, chicken and ribs, I instead went with my favorite barbecued meat – pulled pork – topping it with the Cripple Creek sauce, one of Brocmar’s six housemade options.

The sauce is a bourbon and brown sugar that’s bold and sweet, but not spicy. It really brought out the best in the pulled pork, which was tender with crispy charred ends that gave it a slightly crunchy texture.

It was a beautiful blend, and together the meat and sauce were a great combo.

On the side, I enjoyed an order of hush puppies and a cup of slaw.

While we were waiting for our food, we saw an order of hush puppies being carried across the market and back. I asked about it later. “The number one question we got when we opened was, ‘What are hushpuppies?’ but we now we sell them every day.” It turns out, Brocmar doesn’t have a fryer. Instead, they fry up the hush puppies at the cafe across the market.

That’s only part of the work that goes into one order of hush puppies. The deep-fried corn fritters are hand-rolled with fresh green onion. It’s all worth it though for what is a perfect accompaniment to the main course.

The coleslaw was also very good, but it was even better as part of the Brocmar taco, Julie’s entree choice for the evening.

Barbecue is one of those foods that just seems to work well as part of a more comprised dish. The Brocmar Taco is one of those dishes. It starts with a cornbread cake, then it’s topped with your choice of meat (brisket, for Julie), slaw and sauce.

There were a lot of flavors coming together. The cornbread – the taco “shell” – had a rich corn flavor. The brisket was tender and juicy. And the creaminess of the coleslaw soaked into every layer.

To top it off, Julie added the honey bee barbecue sauce, which added a sweetness and mild spice throughout. It all came together to create an excellent dish.

It was also a hearty dish that we were both surprised that Julie was able to finish. But for a reasonable $23, we weren’t too upset that there were no leftovers for later.

As a whole, Brocmar Smokehouse delivered. It was some very good barbecue that left us wanting to try even more.

And because of Brocmar, we will be back to the Shillington Farmers Market soon.

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

Brocmar Smokehouse
The Shillington Farmers Market
10 S. Summit Ave
Shillington, PA 19607

Brocmar Smokehouse Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Barbecue Farmers Market Meals Lunch & Dinner Reviews

The Hot Spot

If you subscribe to the daily edition of the Reading Eagle, then you have likely seen the full-page advertisement for the Boscov’s Fairgrounds Farmers Market that runs every Wednesday.

Lately, I have been using it as a checklist and for inspiration for my blogs as I eat my way through the Farmers Market.

What caught my eye over the past few weeks was the note under the Scott’s Hot Spot section: “UNDER NEW OWNERSHIP”

Scott’s opened in 2010. A health issue forced the owner to close the stand for several months in 2015, but otherwise, it has been a staple in the market for seven years.

On April 12, the restaurant’s Facebook account announced the new owners: Roseann Rothenberger and Brian Miller, who are now running the stand and will soon rename it, “The Hot Spot.”

We decided to make it our latest Friday night stop on our Farmers Market odyssey.

The Hot Spot was certainly one of the busiest stands at the market, with a line to order and several people waiting at any given time. While we stood in line to order, we heard another customer complain about his order. “I said no onions on both,” was the cry before his food was remade.

Our food took a little while because of the line that had been in front of us. We probably waited 20 minutes before it was called and I could pick it up at the counter.

My entree choice was Scott’s traditional gyro, one of the items that had been a staple at the stand (and spawned a catering trailer called Scott’s Gyro Box).

Gyros are not something that I order very often. My only other gyro in my Berks County Eats journey was from Cafe Sweet Street so I was excited for another taste.

I really enjoyed it, especially the salad base. It had a flavor that I couldn’t quite put my finger on, but it complemented the meat and tzatziki sauce nicely.

It was also very filling to where I probably didn’t need my side order of fries.

But I really wanted those fries, especially after I saw that they were red-skinned potatoes.

I was slightly disappointed with them. Red-skinned potatoes have such a strong flavor compared to Idaho or russet potatoes, but the natural flavor of the red skins didn’t shine through as much as I had hoped.

For French fries, they were good. They were a little oversalted, but good. But I was hoping for more.

Julie was a little perplexed by her order. She got the tuna meltaway, but was surprised to find that it really wasn’t a true tuna melt.

While the bread was clearly toasted, the cheese and tuna filling were still cold. That’s not to say it was bad, but you can’t call something a tuna meltaway and then not melt the cheese.

Her sandwich was much smaller than mine, though she wasn’t upset by that. For her, it was just the right size.

Also, her sandwich was supposed to come with a bag of chips, but we never got them (she wouldn’t have eaten them with her meal, but we would have taken them home for later).

Overall, there was confusion at the stand, as would be expected of a new business. Because of the setup at the farmers market, you can see the kitchen very clearly and the three people behind the counter seemed to be stepping on each others toes, leading to small mistakes.

I fully expect things to get better, especially as the menu shifts with the new owners. For now though, it’s a little scattered.

One thing that is still good is the pricing. Our meals (plus two bottles of water) cost $20 and change. That’s one great thing about all of the stands at the market – there’s low overhead costs so the prices are generally lower than if you ordered a similar meal at a restaurant.

The new Scott’s Hot Spot, soon to be The Hot Spot, has the makings of a great stand. It’s just not quite there yet.

Hopefully it reaches its potential because I want to come back in a few months and enjoy something new.

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

The Hot Spot
Fairgrounds Farmers Market
2934 N. Fifth St. Hwy
Reading, PA 19604

The Hot Spot Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Farmers Market Meals Reviews

Monte Lauro European Gourmet

A trip to Fairgrounds Farmers Market can be overwhelming for the unprepared.

There are sixty stands inside the Fairgrounds Farmers Market and at least 20 of them offer dine-in meals or snacks.

Even for Julie and I, deciding where to grab our meal is a daunting task.

On a recent Friday evening, we arrived at the market not yet knowing where to go. We surveyed our options as we paced up and down all of the aisles, hoping that something would catch our eyes.

That something was Monte Lauro European Gourmet.

The flagship location for the deli is on Mount Laurel Road in Temple (Monte Lauro is Italian for Mount Laurel) and is open on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Sundays while the Farmers Market is open Thursdays, Fridays and Saturdays.

One of the advantages that Monte Lauro has over other dining options is the common dining area across the aisle. On a Friday evening, when things are a little slow, there are plenty of seats to be had (you just may need to take a napkin and clean it yourself).

The selection is both limited and expansive at the same time, with eight cold sandwiches and five hot sandwiches, many of which are also available as paninis. There are also select salad options both as entrees and sides. The only other side available is French fries.

We placed our order, took our number and grabbed a seat. It was a short wait – maybe 10 minutes – until our number was called and I retrieved the tray.

For food being served on a cafeteria tray, it looked beautiful, especially my chicken cutlet sandwich.

Sliced in half, you could see the bright colors of the roasted red peppers and spinach that the cutlet sat upon.

I enjoyed the sandwich – particularly the roasted reds – but I wanted something a little more. The cutlet was OK, but nothing special, and I would have loved another slice of sharp Provolone.

Also, the roll was very good. It was heavy enough to soak up the juice from the roasted reds, but not too heavy to overpower the rest of the ingredients.

Julie’s homemade meatball panini looked just as good with beautiful grill marks on top, a hint of red from the marinara sauce and meatballs sliced perfectly for the grill press.

It was a good sandwich. The meatballs were solid though we’ve tried better. And I would have liked a little more sauce.

With little other choices, we decided to split a side of French fries to go with our sandwiches.

The thin cut fries were in the traditional fast-food style: skins off, cooked to a shade of golden brown and served in a paper bag. They were good and certainly helped fill us up, which is all you can really ask for from an order of fries.

Overall, we enjoyed our meal at Monte Lauro. It was fast, it was tasty and it was right around the $20 mark for the two of us.

I’d like to go back again to try the homemade sausage or one of Monte Lauro’s take-and-make Italian specialties.

Of course, we have many other stands to try first.

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

Monte Lauro European Gourmet
Fairgrounds Farmers Market
2930 N. Fifth Street Hwy
Reading, PA 19605

Farmers Market Meals Reviews Sandwich Shops

1 Potato Two – CLOSED

1 Potato Two at the Fairgrounds Farmers Market

Editor’s Note: 1 Potato Two is now closed. August 10 was the stand at the Fairgrounds Farmers Market. The owners of the stand still operate a food truck based in New Jersey.

Berks County has never really been known for creativity – at least when it comes to food.

The Pennsylvania Dutch are not exactly the most adventurous eaters in the world either.

Sometimes it takes an outsider to introduce something new, something different, something unique.

Unique is the best word to describe the spudwiches at 1 Potato Two at the Fairgrounds Farmers Market.

The concept for 1 Potato Two began as a food truck in New Jersey. The best in the state, according to the USA Today article that hangs from one wall at the stand.

1 Potato Two Features a Rotating Menu of Spudwiches

(Almost) everything at 1 Potato Two is built around – you guessed it – potatoes. There are tater tots with multiple topping choices. There are potato balls, deep-fried bites filled with potato, meat and cheese. And then there are the spudwiches.

So what exactly is a spudwich?

It’s a sandwich, but with no bread. Instead, the filling is placed between two carved out potato halves.

It’s genius.

Over the weekend, I visited the stand with my friend Dennis, already a fan of the spudwich. We ordered our two spudwiches and waited for a few minutes while the potatoes and some of the ingredients took a quick bath in the deep fryer.

The selection of spudwiches rotate weekly, and there is quite the variety. I ordered the eggplant parmigiana while Dennis ordered the buffalo chicken.

Our spudwiches were delivered to our seats. “You’re nice guys so I’m going to leave you these,” said the cook as he laid down some extra napkins. They came in very handy.

My spudwich was fantastic. The fried eggplant was light and tender. The mozzarella and tomato sauce were nicely portioned. But the best part about it is the potato.

I could have eaten the potato by itself. Give me three or four of them, and it would be the best potato skin appetizer I have ever tried. But as part of the spudwich, it is actually very complementary to the other ingredients.

Now, I have to point out that it is greasy – the potato and eggplant having both come out fresh out of the fryer – so if that does not appeal to you, you probably won’t enjoy the spudwich. If you don’t mind a little fried food every now and then, this is right up your alley.

Dennis’ spudwich, I dare say, may have been better than mine. It was certainly more robust than my own, with chicken strips spilling out over the sides.

The chicken was delicious. I’m not a big fan of buffalo sauce, but Dennis allowed me a small piece and I was impressed.

What really worked – and what Dennis found to be the best part – was the combination of the buffalo chicken with the bacon. And the potato made for the perfect addition.

It was so good that he completely forgot about the cup of blue cheese on the side. Quite frankly, it didn’t need it.

Together, our two spudwiches were just short of $20 ($8.99 each). For me, the spudwich was hearty enough on its own that I didn’t need anything else for my lunch.

One other note: the challenge of dining at the Fairgrounds Farmers Market is seating. We were lucky to grab two of the four stools at 1 Potato Two’s counter. It was a win for us because the Saturday lunch rush makes it hard to find a seat in the Market’s main dining area.

1 Potato Two certainly brings a new perspective and a whole new idea to Berks County.

And it’s an idea that I can really get behind.

1 Potato Two
Fairgrounds Farmers Market
2934 N. Fifth Street Hwy
Reading, PA 19605

1 Potato Two Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Farmers Market Meals Reviews

Williams Family Restaurant at the Fairgrounds Farmers Market

williams-family-restaurant-exterior

There is no denying that the Fairgrounds Farmers Market has some great places to eat.

More than a dozen stands offer some kind of hot food service along with the many fresh produce and meat stands throughout.

Among all of the vendors, Williams Family Restaurant stands out.

Let’s be clear: William’s Family Restaurant is not a farmers market stand. It’s a diner that just happens to be in a farmers market.

williams-family-restaurant-interior

The restaurant has about 20 tables and a small lunch counter (almost as many seats as the rest of the market combined), all of which were full when we arrived a little before 9 a.m. There was one other couple in line in front of us, but it didn’t take long for a booth to open up.

In a room that was obviously filled with “regulars,” we were probably among the few people that our waittress didn’t know by name. Still, she was very attentive, and we never felt out of place.

Like all good diners, things happen quick at William’s. Only a little more than 10 minutes after we sat down, our breakfast was on the table.

williams-familiy-restaurant-stuffed-french-toast

I love sweets at breakfast. That’s why I ordered the stuffed French toast with strawberries.

Two thick slices of toast were sitting on my plate. They had been lined up so perfectly that I wasn’t sure whether they were actually stuffed until I slid the top layer off to reveal the bright red strawberry filling.

williams-family-restaurant-stuffed-french-toast-2

It was everything I was hoping for. Every bite was filled with strawberry and cream cheese for the sweetness I craved. And the two slices of French toast were done perfectly.

I had a more savory side with my corned beef hash. It didn’t look nearly as appetizing as the French toast (hash rarely does), but it was diner food at its best.

williams-family-restaurant-corned-beef-hash

It was a little greasy and nicely crisp from the grill. The meat was ground finer than some places, which made it look wetter. In reality, it just let the meat seep into every bite.

Julie also went sweet with her red, white and blue waffle.

williams-family-restaurant-red-white-and-blue-waffle

Strawberries (red), bananas (white) and blueberries (blue) topped a plate-sized Belgian waffle. The strawberries were in the same gooey syrup as my strawberry filling while the blueberries and bananas were fresh.

The whole thing was dusted with powdered sugar (it didn’t need it). The syrup helped the strawberry get into every nook and cranny so while she didn’t get all three fruits in every bite, she always had at least a little strawberry.

With as fast as they turned the tables over, we had our check as Julie was polishing off the last bites of her waffle.

At $17, it was one of the cheapest meals that we have ever had on a Berks County Eats trip. And we certainly got more than our money’s worth because I didn’t need to eat a lunch after finishing my meal.

By the time we were heading out the door, a large crowd had gathered outside. I’m sure they didn’t have to wait long.

William’s Family Restaurant is definitely not your typical farmers market stand. It’s a real old-fashioned diner with good food, good portions and great prices.

It just happens to be surrounded by a market.

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

Williams Family Restaurant at the Fairgrounds Farmers Market
2934 N. 5th Street Hwy
Reading, PA 19605

Williams Family Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Breakfast & Brunch Diners Farmers Market Meals Reviews

Vietnamese Delights

vietnamese-delights

It had been nearly a year — nine months to be exact — since my last trip to the Fairgrounds Farmers Market.

I love browsing the aisles of vendors and dine-in restaurants, but I never make it there as often as I would like. The Farmers Market of Wyomissing is just so convenient that a trip to Muhlenberg takes extra planning.

That planning came together, and last Friday when we made an evening drive to Fairgrounds with one stand in mind: Vietnamese Delights.

The Fairgrounds Farmers Market already offered a diverse selection of foods before Vietnamese Delights opened in 2013. Italian, Greek, German and Pennsylvania Dutch were all well-represented, but Vietnamese Delights brought an Asian flair that was missing from the global market.

Located in the southwest corner of the market, Vietnamese Delights offers its own little seating area. This makes it one of the few stands that will actually deliver your meal to your table (you still order at the counter so it’s not quite a full-service restaurant).

vietnamese-delights-honeydew-bubble-tea

First to arrive were our two bubble teas: mango flavored for Julie and honeydew for me. More smoothie than tea, the drinks are creamy with (optional) tapioca balls dropped in the bottom.

vietnamese-delights-mango-bubble-tea

As you would guess, the drinks are extremely refreshing. My honeydew had that light sweetness of the melon that makes it so enjoyable. The mango flavor was strong and very sweet to the point of being more like dessert.

vietnamese-delights-pho-add-ins

Next to arrive at the table were the add-ins for Julie’s pho, the brothy Vietnamese noodle soup. While the noodles and beef were cooked in the broth, a plate of bean shoots, basil, lime and jalapeno pepper were served separately.

The pho followed shortly behind. The large bowl was filled with hearty slices of beef, chopped shallots, onions and a heaping mound of rice noodles.

vietnamese-delights-beef-pho

Rice noodles are an acquired taste for a Dutchman raised on the thicker, heartier egg noodles. The advantage of thin strands is that they absorb flavors well, soaking up the broth in every bite. Julie managed to finish most of her soup, polishing off all of the meat and leaving just a little broth and some loose noodles at the bottom of the bowl.

My meal was the last to arrive being the most involved of the two. I ordered the broken rice platter: a plate of white rice with pork done three ways (steamed, grilled and shredded), a fried egg, a cucumber and lettuce salad, and a dish of garlic fish sauce.

vietnamese-delights-broken-rice-platter

The best part about the plate was the shredded pork. Even though it was served cold, it was easily the most enjoyable of the three. It just melts in your mouth with a sweet flavor that isn’t barbecue, but is close enough to be enjoyable.

The grilled and steamed pork were served atop the bed of white rice. They had a nice peppery flavor that I really enjoyed. The egg felt a little out of place — I’m used to it being fried with the rice, not on top — but once I opened it up and started eating with the rice and pork, it all came together nicely.

As much as I love garlic, I was not a fan of the fish sauce. I much preferred the chili sauce that was sitting on each of the tables.

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I was able to finish everything on plate (not counting the fish sauce), but what neither Julie nor I were able to finish were all of the tapioca balls in the bottom of our smoothies. With the consistency of gummies, they just got to be too much work after the bubble tea was gone. In hindsight, we would probably get it without tapioca next time.

All in all though, we thoroughly enjoyed our meal. At $30 it was a little more expensive than we had originally planned, but a lot of that came down to the indulgence of our $5 bubble teas.

We were able to squeeze in a little shopping before closing time, but we really didn’t need much else at the market.

Vietnamese Delights was the real reason we went, and it was certainly worth the trip.

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

Vietnamese Delights
2934 N. 5th Street Hwy
Reading, PA 19605

Vietnamese Delights Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Asian & Pacific Islands Farmers Market Meals Lunch & Dinner Reviews

Jambalaya J’s – Fairgrounds Farmers Market

jambala-j

I have explored many of Berks County’s culinary hot spots: places like West Reading, Wyomissing and Kutztown have been good to me since starting this blog.

But there is one place in the county that has a higher concentration of restaurants than anywhere else. No, it’s not a town. It’s the Boscov’s Fairgrounds Farmers Market.

The 60 stands at the market feature fresh produce, butchered meats and bulk foods. But among the poultry and vegetable stands are more than a dozen places to enjoy a hot meal on Thursdays, Fridays, and Saturdays.

One of those stands is located right inside the front door, and is the place I was eyeing up for my first market meal: Jambalaya J’s.

Jambalaya J’s is one of 60 stands inside the market. Opened in 2000, the stand has been offering Cajun fare for 15 years.

jambalaya-j-menu

The menu is narrowly focused with only a few options every week. The constants are jambalaya and crab cakes, two items that appear weekly on the menu board. The rest of the offerings are constantly changing. A range of po’ boy sandwiches, soups, sides and barbecue are offered each week.

We placed our order at the counter and the food was ready in a snap. The challenge was finding a pair of seats. The stand, itself, only offers a couple counter seats and a two-seat table that felt like it was a mile long. Thankfully there was a small table open in the seating area across the aisle.

I pulled up a chair and dug into my meal: a pulled pork sandwich combo with jambalaya and cole slaw.

jambalaya-j-pulled-pork

The sandwich was gargantuan, served on an oversized, dusted kaiser roll. The sauce, sweet and rich, made a mess of my hands as it dripped out of the bun. The pork didn’t need much help as it was very flavorful on its own. With the sauce, it was up there with some of the best pulled pork I have tried.

With a name like Jambalaya J’s, the jambalaya has to be good. And this did not disappoint. While the Andouille sausage added some kick, it was not overly spicy. Instead, the thick rice creation was a little sweet. It was only when I got a little piece of dried chile pepper that I really got hit with the heat. That’s when the cooling, creamy cole slaw came in handy.

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Julie’s Blue Plate Special was also covered in jambalaya, but with the addition of a pair of crab cakes topped with remoulade sauce. The remoulade really made the dish, adding a sweet and spicy element to the perfectly fried cakes.

The Cajun cuisine was not only delicious, but nicely priced as we only spent $20 for what was a very filling meal.

My first meal at the Fairgrounds Farmers Market did not disappoint. It was a delicious, filling meal that I would definitely order again.

But it might be a while until I get to try it again. After all, I still have dozens of other stands to visit.

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

Jambalaya J’s
2930 N. 5th Street Hwy
Reading, PA 19605

Jambalaya J's on Urbanspoon

Farmers Market Meals Lunch & Dinner Reviews