Editor’s Note: The Greenhouse Cafe closed in February 2023 after three years in business at their Wyomissing location. The owners chose not to renew the lease because of stipulations around hours of operation. As they seek a new location, they are partnering with Hill Road Coffee Roasters to provide a location for preorder pickups on weekends.
It’s been nearly three years since I first visited the Greenhouse Café, the vegan coffee shop and eatery in Wyomissing. That visit came in early 2020, shortly after the café opened. Since then, the Greenhouse has become one of my favorite restaurants.
I love sitting in the namesake “greenhouse” dining area. Surrounded by windows, the room is always bright and sunny and a great place to sit down with my laptop and doing some work-from-home away from home.
The room has changed since the cafe opened – gone are the sofa, the round metal table, and the narrow high-top table. In their place are more functional seating – four tables for two along the brick wall and two larger tables that can seat six by the windows. What hasn’t changed is the quality of the food.
But I didn’t become a regular until the fall of 2021 when I signed up for their “soup CSA.” I pre-paid for 10 quarts of soup – a different variety each week. There were some really great ones along the way like mung bean, kale and coconut (pictured); adzuki bean chili; carrot ginger; and chickpea and rice. There were so many delicious offerings that I signed up for a second round in the beginning of 2022.
Then earlier this year, Julie and I attended the Greenhouse Cafe’s “Intro to Chai” event where owners Uday and Nikki offered tastings of three variations of chai along with a variety of traditional foods (and some unique offerings, as well).
But the regular meals at Greenhouse are just as good. In early 2022, the cafe cut back its hours. Instead of offering breakfast and lunch, the cafe serves brunch daily from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. (closed Mondays).
Through my many visits, I’ve been able to try many menu items, and I definitely have some favorites.
On the breakfast side, I really enjoy their French toast. Each order comes with four thick slices dusted with powdered sugar and swimming in syrup. The French toast has a nutty flavor to it that I enjoy and sets it apart from the usual.
On the lunch side, I’ve found three dishes that I prefer above the rest. My favorite among them is probably the kati rolls.
Filled with chana masala – chickpea stewed with tomatoes, onions and spices– and topped with pickled red onion, it features a flaky, crunchy roll. It’s like a crunchier version of a pita or naan. The dish comes together really well. It’s a little savory and the pickled onions really pop. And the two rolls are filling on their own (it doesn’t mean I won’t splurge for a cup of soup on the side, though).
Another favorite is the falafel wrap. Falafel is a lot easier to find around Berks County than chana masala, but Greenhouse does a very good version of the dish with hummus, vegetables and tahini. While the falafel and wrap are on the dry side, the hummus and tahini give it a sauciness and help to bind everything together.
During the Intro to Chai event, I had the chance to try another menu item for the first time – strata. It’s a baked dish that uses chickpea flour that has a grainy, but not unpleasant texture. At the event, it was served plain, but on the menu it comes beneath a creamy herb sauce.
Without the sauce, the strata is good, but dry. With the sauce, it’s a very good dish that goes down easy. Non-dairy cream sauces can be hit or miss, but the Greenhouse Café’s is definitely a hit. And unlike the other menu items, the strata comes with a side of herbed potatoes that shine on their own.
Though they haven’t offered the soup CSA again this year, I always get a cup of soup with my lunch orders. A recent favorite is the quinoa bean soup, a hearty soup that made a great plant-based chili.
And whether I’m ordering breakfast or lunch, it’s always accompanied by a large mug of chai. This isn’t a Starbucks-style chai that’s loaded with sugar and syrup, it’s a homemade black tea blended with oat milk with spices that’s warming and satisfying.
I love a good burger as much of the next person, but I also love Greenhouse Café so whether you’re a practicing vegan or just looking for a unique meal in a cool setting, the Greenhouse should be near the top of your list.
Food: Very Good
The Greenhouse Cafe
18 State Hill Rd
Wyomissing, PA 19610
Original Post – March 2, 2020
The arrival of a new restaurant to Berks County is always welcomed. But when that eatery offers something different – when it adds a little more variety to the dining scene – it’s a little more exciting.
A little something different is exactly what the Greenhouse Cafe promises as Berks County’s newest vegan spot.
The Cafe is located in an outbuilding on the property of the Bell Tower Salon & Spa in Wyomissing (just off of State Hill Road near the intersection with Penn Avenue). I have never had a reason to go to Bell Tower myself, but Julie tells me the space was at least partially a retail store previously.
Walking in the door, you don’t get the Greenhouse feeling. It’s very minimalist with plain brown walls and simple silver-colored tables and chairs opposite the large windows. The dining room to the right is where you really feel the Greenhouse and feel at home. Natural light pours in from the sides and from above. The seating is varied with both high-tops and more relaxed sitting areas. We sat on cushioned benches around a low-top table. A faux fireplace was unlit on the wall next to us.
With the opening of the Greenhouse Cafe, Berks County now has four fully dedicated vegan eateries with Chen Vegetarian House in West Reading, the Firefly Cafe in Boyertown and HIVE in Kutztown being the other three.
The Cafe opened at the end of November with just drinks and baked goods. They slowly expanded their food offerings to include hummus and soups. The full lunch menu debuted on February 15.
Small plates include hummus and bean dips. There are several homemade dressings for your salad or grain bowl (including lemon tahini and ginger sesame). And entrees include chickpea by the sea (mock tuna), an egg-less salad sandwich and hummus and veggie sandwich.
When it came to deciding on an entree, I was torn between the hummus sandwich and the rotating special, a chana masala sandwich. The special sounded too good to pass up.
Masala is an Indian tomato sauce (chicken tikka masala is probably the most well-known version of the dish in America); chana masala features chickpeas as the primary “protein” in the dish. For the special, the chana masala came served on a hoagie roll topped with pickled cabbage.
It was an excellent entree. The masala sauce was very nice and the chickpeas were cooked well but still had texture to them. There were times while eating the dish where the sauce and the roll reminded me of a Berks County cheesesteak. (The roll was delicious, by the way).
The sandwich came served with a side of cucumber salad. It was good, but there wasn’t much to it.
Julie made a meal out of a small plate of hummus and a side grain bowl of edamame, chickpeas, cranberry and quinoa.
The bowl came out first with my sandwich. The server then appeared with a hummus sandwich only to retreat back into the kitchen for the plate of hummus that Julie had ordered.
Julie started on the bowl, which was very good. We make a quinoa dish at home with dried cranberries that we really like and this was even better. The edamame was softened just enough that it wasn’t crunchy but was still a little firm. The cranberries and (surprise) golden raisins added the sweetness that it needed to tie everything together.
When Julie’s hummus plate arrived a few minutes later, it was worth the wait. The hummus was much thicker and more textured than store-bought hummus. It was also more flavorful with a nice dusting of spices on top. Julie was excited to come back and buy some hummus to-go so she could enjoy it at home, too.
It wasn’t just the hummus, though. The pita it was served with was as good, if not better, than we have found elsewhere. It was more dense than others and was packed with flavors (of course neither of us could put our fingers on what those flavors were that were shining through). We loved everything about it.
The only thing that was a little confusing to me was the menu said it was topped with shawarma. I only know shawarma as the meat that is sliced from the spit. I can only assume that it was a shawarma spice that was on top.
Beyond the food, I was very excited to try their house blend chai tea.
I don’t drink coffee, but I love a good chai latte. The Greenhouse has their own special chai spice blend and they use oat milk to keep it vegan. It didn’t have a foamy head like a lot of chai that I’ve had, but it had a nice aroma and flavor from the spices. The oat milk even added a little bit of an earthy flavor as well that I really enjoyed.
The sizing of our drinks didn’t make much sense, though. Julie ordered a small while I ordered a large. They were served in the exact same size cups. Hers was just filled slightly less than my own.
Our lunch was a little on the pricey side at $37 (about $10 of that were the drinks), but we thought it was worth it. The service was definitely a little off. It wasn’t just the sandwich/hummus plate mix-up either. As we were leaving, a line was growing as two employees looked over the screen of their point-of-sale system trying to find the menu item the customer wanted to order.
Those hiccups will get better with more time and practice. The food is already on-point, and that’s the most important part.
Food: Very Good
Ambiance: Excellent (in the Greenhouse Dining Area)
Price: A Little Pricey
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