Some restaurants serve a very specific niche. They identify and fill a need for the community around them.
In a college town like Kutztown, there are students from all walks of life. Along Main Street, there are what feels like an endless number of restaurants that are casting a wide net – pizza and bar food that appeal to a wide range of students and locals, alike.
But then there are places like Hive, a local organic farm-to-table cafe.
The appeal for Hive is that it doesn’t have mass appeal. It’s tucked away along Sacony Alley, only one street off Main Street, but it feels like a mile away. The alley is quiet. Instead of storefronts, it’s dominated by the backyards – or back parking lots – of homes and businesses.
The “front door” for Hive looks more like the backdoor to a warehouse. Essentially, it is. The space that houses the cafe is repurposed industrial – a large room that would otherwise be very sterile and cold if not for the vibrant metal tables and chairs, the beautifully drawn menu signs, and the shelves of organic produce.
It was a quiet Sunday, just after 12 noon when we arrived. There was just one table in use. We claimed the other four-person table and brought over a high chair for Jakob before placing our order at the counter.
Hive’s menu – full of vegan, vegetarian and pescatarian options, all organic – expands on Sundays, when additional brunch items supplement the regular lunch menu.
I ordered the heaviest out of the three of us – opting for both a noodle bowl and a smoothie.
My fin sùt sùt red Thai curry featured rice noodles, spiraled zucchini, carrots, kale, cilantro, lime wedges and scallions in a Thai curry sauce.
Like a pho noodle bowl, the sauce was a thin broth. Rather than a soup with vegetables cooked in the broth, many of the vegetables were placed on top of the noodle bed – the carrots added raw and uncooked.
The broth was definitely kicking, spicy enough to clear out my sinuses but not too spicy that I couldn’t enjoy the dish. This is where most of the flavor came from as rice noodles are rather plain on their own. Aside from the broth, it was a bowl of individual flavors, but I enjoyed it throughout.
I was also glad to have the smoothie to ease the heat – especially because the one glass of spring water – though served in a very cool beaker – didn’t last very long.
It was the “Queen Bee,” a strawberry banana smoothie with almond milk and bee pollen. I was a fan. It was sweet, but not overly sweet. It definitely helped cool down my burning mouth as well.
For her meal, Julie went with the smoked mozzarella and mushroom panini. It was served on a locally made ciabatta bread. It was simple, but delicious. The smoky flavor of the cheese really shined through. And the mushrooms made for a nice, flavorful filler.
Her sandwich came with a mixed green salad that was served as an appetizer. It featured spring mix, beets, carrots and a strong, but enjoyable, balsamic dressing. The carrots were raw and cut thick so they were a little more challenging, but the beets added a nice note to the salad. And everything tasted like it came right out of the garden that day.
Hive offers two kids items – a grilled cheese and the a PB&J. We ordered the grilled cheese because it’s something we know he has eaten at daycare. But I can tell you, they don’t serve it like this at daycare.
The grilled cheese featured a sharp cheddar that was bright orange and full of flavor. And the wheat bread from Daily Loaf Bakery was delicious, especially toasted as it was. Jakob (and mommy and daddy) thoroughly enjoyed it. He finished half of it at the restaurant. The other half went home in a box with the banana that was served as a side (he also got a juice box with his kids meal).
A lot of times, “organic” is synonymous with “pricey,” but I thought our meal was very reasonable. For a noodle bowl, panini, smoothie and a kids meal, we paid just under $40. I would pay that again for our meal.
Hive serves a specific niche, sure, but the food is definitely good enough to expand the customer base. Yes, the cafe specializes in vegan, vegetarian and organic foods. But it’s a cafe first.
And it’s a good one at that.
Food: Very Good
236 W. Sacony Alley
Kutztown, PA 19530