Five years ago, our family made the drive to the Oley Turnpike Dairy for the first time. The out-of-the-way diner was okay, but nothing special (the ice cream was great, though). The combination restaurant and ice cream parlor was open for 52 years before closing in August 2022.
But the space didn’t remain empty for long as the new Redvo Restaurant opened in February 2023. The restaurant is a new venture from the owners of Penn Steak & Fries, which operated in the Coventry Mall in Pottstown from 1989 until it closed prior to Redvo’s opening.
The space has certainly received an upgrade since our visit in 2018. The wood paneling has been painted a light gray and the dining area is much brighter. The wood-top tables are a big improvement over the vinyl tablecloths that I remember from our first visit.
On the other side of the building, what was once the ice cream parlor is now empty. But when I stopped in for lunch on a Tuesday afternoon, quite a few tables were full in the dining area.
The sign said “seat yourself” so I grabbed a booth at the far end of the room and was quickly greeted and offered a menu. A minute later she was back with my drink and my order was in.
With Redvo’s predecessor being Penn Steak & Fries, I was always going to order a cheesesteak. In addition to creative sandwiches like the pepperoni cheesesteak, spicy pesto chicken cheesesteak and chipotle chicken cheesesteak, Redvo has a build-your-own option with a dozen toppings, an equal number of sauces and three different cheeses.
Though I really wanted to try the spicy pesto, I decided to stick with a more traditional “Berks County” style cheesesteak with Provolone cheese, onions and marinara sauce.
After one bite, I was hooked. The sandwich was packed with perfectly prepared steak. The sauce was on the sweeter side which balanced nicely with the savory meat. And rather than a cold slice of cheese sitting on the bun, the Provolone was melted throughout so every taste was as good as the last.
The best part was that the fries were just as good. The fresh-cut style fries were crispy and flavorful – never once did I have to reach for the salt and pepper shaker. And they made for a great utensil to pick up the excess meat and onions that had fallen onto the plate.
Overall, I was really impressed by both the food and service – and the price was right at about $15 for my sandwich, fries and drink.
While the menu does offer more than just cheesesteaks (they even serve breakfast from 6 a.m. to 12 noon every day), there’s too many cheesesteak options to explore before I branch out from there.
And I can’t wait to try them all.
BCE Rating Food: Very Good Service: Excellent Ambiance: Good Price: $
Redvo Restaurant 6213 Oley Turnpike Road Oley, PA 19547
Back in 2018, I discovered a restaurant in Lancaster County called Gracie’s on West Main. Located in the heart of Leola, it’s a fantastic place – especially for breakfast (with an entire menu section devoted to bacon). I’ve been there several times since, including taking the family there for dinner just a couple months ago.
So when it was announced in the spring that the owners of Gracie’s were taking over what was then known as Divot’s, I was very excited.
After a small update, the newly renamed Louie’s Kitchen & Bar opened in the space in May.
I actually made my first visit over the summer but never wrote about it because shortly afterward, the restaurant went through some changes in the kitchen and my chili huevos rancheros tacos were off the menu.
The restaurant serves as the unofficial “19th hole” for the Flying Hills Golf Course. Located just steps from the clubhouse, I would imagine that it fills up quickly on warm days when the course is full. But with a chill in the air, the course is empty and Julie and I have the place mostly to ourselves.
Louie’s is unique to itself, but it has callbacks to Gracie’s. Most notably are the chalkboards throughout the dining room, each one adorned with inspirational quotes from sports legends like Babe Ruth, Emmitt Smith and Bo Jackson (plus fictional sports star Rocky Balboa).
The menus, however, diverge. Whereas Gracie’s is primarily known for its breakfast items, Louie’s is a lunch and dinner spot (though the restaurant did try breakfast, at first, and still does weekend brunches) so the menu is built upon burgers, wraps and sandwiches.
For my lunch, I went with chicken bacon avocado wrap with a side cup of chili.
The wrap is pretty basic and similar items can be found on menus around Berks County, but I enjoyed it.The wrap was filled with grilled chicken, red onion, lettuce, tomato, avocado and ranch dressing. It may not have been anything special, but it was done well and I enjoyed it, especially the bites that were loaded with avocado.
I was really impressed with the chili – the triple double chili, that is – which is one of the items that can also be found on the menu at Gracie’s. It gets its name because it includes three meats (ground beef, ground pork and bacon) and two beans (kidney and black). It’s hearty, for sure, and a bowl with some fries could easily be a meal. The chili, itself, was not too spicy but definitely had the familiar sting of chili pepper every now and then. Though the heaping helping of shredded cheese on top helped to tone it down.
Across the table from me, Julie enjoyed her Mediterranean pita and fries. The pita features chicken, hummus, olive tapenade, tomatoes, onion, cucumber and feta with tzatziki sauce. It was really good and really filling. The hummus was really good and helped make it a very filling dish.
The fries were a real highlight. Crisp, golden and lightly seasoned with salt and pepper, Julie and I both kept going back for more even after we were already full.
Because Julie upgraded to fries and I added on the cup of chili (and splurged on a fresh fruit iced tea), our lunch was a little more expensive than we would typically aim for with our total coming in around $40.
BCE Rating Food: Very Good Ambiance: Very Good Service: Very Good Price: $$
Louie’s Kitchen & Bar 12 Village Center Dr Reading, PA 19607
Long-time followers of Berks County Eats know how much we have enjoyed our visits to Klinger’s pubs across the county over the years.
While I will always love the original Klinger’s on Carsonia, Klinger’s at the Airport has recently become our family’s go-to for both the food and the look on our son’s face when he sees a plane takeoff outside the window.
We stopped in on a Friday night around 5:30. The bar was full and the restaurant was bustling but there was still plenty of seating in the dining area and we were lucky enough to get a table by the window.
Even though it was already dark outside, the lights of the planes illuminated them just enough so that Jakob could watch them take off while we waited for our food to arrive.
For my meal, I ordered Klinger’s boneless wings – half Parmesan peppercorn and half Jameson Whiskey BBQ. The boneless wings were always a favorite of mine at the Carsonia location and they did not disappoint. Klinger’s BBQ sauce is one of my favorite wing sauces I’ve found – smokey and sweet. And the Parmesan peppercorn was creamy and mild.
The best part, I ordered 10 wings and got a full baker’s dozen in my basket.
Julie had the Cadillac quesadilla. The name is an homage to Klinger’s former location in Fleetwood and is a delicious take on a cheesesteak. In addition to the steak, cheese and grilled onions, the quesadilla is drizzled with barbecue sauce.
Though it comes served with salsa and sour cream on the side, the barbecue sauce adds a sweetness to the dish that makes the other sauces almost unnecessary.
For Jakob’s meal, we got him pasta and tater tots. The pasta was curly noodles that he didn’t need to cut which made it easy for him to clear his bowl. He did the same with his tots, leaving just three left when he declared “I’m full” at the end of the meal.
It took him a little longer than the rest of us to finish his food because there were at least 10 planes landing or taking off while we were there, and for a five-year-old, each one is an event that can’t be missed.
Joining us on our visit was my mother-in-law, Peggy, who loves Klinger’s fries – beer-battered and crispy. She enjoyed them alongside her cheeseburger.
Overall, it was a great meal and a great experience – exactly what we were hoping for with this family meal. And for the four of us, our total was under $80 (and we had a $5 off coupon).
BCE Rating Food: Very Good Ambiance: Very Good Service: Very Good Price: $$
Klinger’s at the Airport 2385 Bernville Rd Reading, PA 19605
Original Post – February 13, 2017
Every great movie franchise is built on the trilogy. Think Lord of the Rings, the Dark Knight and Star Wars (the originals, obviously). That formula apparently works for restaurants, too.
With the opening of Klinger’s at the Airport at the end of 2016, the Klinger’s trilogy is now complete.
Berks County Eats has already visited the original Klinger’s on Carsonia, and last year, we visited the new Klinger’s of Fleetwood.
If I were starting a restaurant, the Reading Regional Airport would not be my ideal location. The airport hasn’t had regular passenger service since 2004.
But with the closing of Malibooz early last year, the space was open and Klinger’s stepped in.
The lights were mostly off in the terminal when we arrived, but Klinger’s was alive and well, tucked in a corner on the left side of the building.
It looks like a hole in the wall, but the dining area opens up from the entrance. To the right is a 360-degree bar. A large mural dedicated to aviation history decorates the wall behind it.
The rest of the dining room is filled with booths and tables, definitely the largest dining area of the three Klinger’s restaurants.
Our table was by one of the windows overlooking the airstrip. During our visit – a Tuesday night where we played Challenge the Pub trivia – we saw exactly one plane out the window, though whether it was coming or going, I couldn’t say.
Klinger’s is known for their bar food and for me, their wings are some of the best around. So we had to start our night with a basket – five Old Bay and five Jameson Whiskey BBQ.
Both flavors can be found at Klinger’s other restaurants, the Jameson Whiskey BBQ being the signature flavor. It’s sweet, and a little bitey. When I’ve had the wings at Carsonia, the sauce is laid on much thicker. This was lighter, but the flavor was still there. And the Old Bay is exactly what it sounds like, wings rubbed down in the classic seasoning, Julie’s favorite.
The menu looks similar to the other two locations, though each one has its own unique offerings. For instance, all three feature different varieties of chili. I had an opportunity to sample the habanero chili during the chili cook-off at this year’s Fire & Ice Festival and loved it. It was a little sweet with enough heat to make you take notice, but not enough to overpower everything else.
Another twist comes with the sandwiches. All three locations have a section for steak sandwiches, but only Fleetwood and the Airport have the Lone Star Style steak sandwich featuring sautéed onions, barbecue sauce, beer cheese and bacon.
It is a phenomenal mix of ingredients. The steak meat – real cuts of meat, not Steak-Ums – is a great base. The beer cheese and the barbecue sauce blend together really well for a sweet and smoky flavor. The thick-cut bacon adds a salty note and more smokiness. And the sautéed onions are the perfect finish.
This is no Philly cheesesteak, but it is one of the best sandwiches that I have tried in more than three years of Berks County Eats.
One of the only-at-the-airport menu additions is Stromboli – seven varieties made with beer dough. Julie decided to try the Classic – pepperoni, ham, mushrooms, onions, green peppers, mozzarella and marinara.
Klinger’s did a good job with this. The doughy shell is very good, though I couldn’t taste anything uniquely “beer dough” about it. What really stands out though is the sauce. It’s a thick, deep red sauce that is quite enjoyable for a place that doesn’t qualify as an “Italian restaurant.”
We were joined on our visit by our friends Matt and Hannah, who were very excited to see a cookie sundae on the dessert menu.
I have to say, after the meal, the sundae was a bit of a letdown. The chocolate chip cookie, though it looked cute with a faux face made of chocolate chunks – was disappointing. It was hard so it was difficult to cut and share. We finished off the ice cream and chocolate syrup but left some of the cookie behind.
For Julie and I, our total bill was around $30 (that included our two entrees, wings and an iced tea as Matt and Hannah picked up the tab for the cookie). Good luck coming in under $30 for dinner at PHL.
The new Klinger’s, despite its location, should prove successful. It follows a similar formula as its two sister restaurants: a cool atmosphere, rotating craft beers for the bar crowd, and great food.
Now that they have the three-peat, will Klinger’s try for four?
BCE Rating Food: Good Service: Good Ambiance: Very Good Price: Reasonable
Klinger’s at the Airport 2385 Bernville Rd Reading, PA 19605
Five years ago, I posted about La Cantina Restaurant, an Italian restaurant and bar along New Holland Road that I was frequenting during my poker-playing days. Fast-forward to July 2021 and La Cantina closed its doors.
A year later, Doc & Bubba’s has risen in its place.
While the barroom at La Cantina was very much of a dive, Doc & Bubba’s is anything but. The new restaurant is gorgeous and gives off a finer dining ambiance with dark wood tabletops and gray metal chairs with a modern flair.
The bar, itself, has been set apart. Assorted bottles peek out from windows above the bar, watching over customers and the high-top tables that flank the bar area. (Our visit came in October so the bar was also adorned with ghosts that hung from the overhead liquor cabinets).
The outside patio – open year-round thanks to heat lamps – is the more casual space with a mix of standard dining tables along with Adirondacks and more relaxing seats. A second bar serves those sitting outside.
Julie and I visited for lunch and were among the first to arrive after it opened at 11, allowing us our choice of seats. We settled in at a table in the back of the dining room where we could look out the large picture windows and admire the back patio.
The lunch menu at Doc & Bubba’s consists of sandwiches, burgers, salads and pizza (with a few shareables). The menu is seasonal so items rotate on and off. During our visit, the sandwich calling my name was the South Philly roast pork – a traditional roast pork sandwich with broccoli rabe, Sharp provolone, but with the addition of pizzaioli sauce and roasted garlic aioli.
It was good and hearty. Roast pork sandwiches typically aren’t served with sauce, but I liked the addition of the pizzaioli sauce on this. I actually wished there was a little more of it spread throughout so I could have gotten the flavor in every bite.
Julie really enjoyed her salmon BLT. Served on perfectly toasted bread, the salmon blended well with the traditional BLT. And it was perfectly portioned for lunch – not too light to leave her hungry, but not too heavy either.
We both enjoyed the fries which were served in their own little fryer basket along with an individual sized bottle of ketchup – a nice little added touch. The fries were topped with sea salt and pepper, but I found myself adding just a pinch more salt to them. Otherwise, they were nearly perfect.
At $40, our lunch was on the expensive side (I did also have an iced tea), but it didn’t feel like we had overpaid because the food was definitely a higher quality than we would get at many other lunch spots.
The dinner prices are a little higher, but most entrees fall in the $20-$30 range with steaks and select seafood dishes coming in higher.
Doc & Bubba’s may not be weekly stop for me like La Cantina was at one time, but it’s we will definitely return – whether for an elevated lunch or a nice dinner.
BCE Rating Food: Very Good Ambiance: Excellent Service: Good Price: A Little Pricey
Doc & Bubba’s 4312 New Holland Rd Mohnton, PA 19540
The Shillington Farmers Market is home to some amazing vendors. I’ve enjoyed some great meals from Eve’s Thai Kitchen and the Market Café (and Brocmar Smokehouse and Mi Casa Su Casa when they were still open), but one of the great things about all of Berks County’s farmers markets is that there is always more to try.
Recently, I stopped at the market for lunch to try out one of those newer stands – Matt’s Chicken.
Matt’s opened in the fall of 2021 and focuses on – you guessed it – chicken dishes. It’s actually quite refreshing to see a menu so focused. While there are weekly specials, the core menu on the board when I visited was pretty simple: chicken sandwiches (classic or spicy), chicken nuggets and the fried chicken Caesar salad. The only two sides on the menu board were fries and fried Brussels sprouts.
I’ve had many Caesar salads with grilled chicken, but never with fried chicken so I was anxious to give the dish a try. I ordered at the counter and waited about 10 minutes until it was ready before carrying it to the market’s upstairs seating area.
Opening the box, I found quite the salad in front of me with a sliced chicken breast, big romaine leaves and oversized croutons with a cup of dressing.
For a takeout salad, it looked fine. But the flavor was way beyond what I expected. Specifically, the chicken breast had just the right amount of seasoning in the breading and was cooked perfectly so it was still juicy. And it just went so well with the dressing that I could have skipped the salad and just dipped the chicken in the dressing for lunch.
Wanting to give more of the menu a try, I also grabbed a cup of fries and unsurprisingly they were also delicious. They were well-salted, not too much to make me overly thirsty but enough that I wanted to keep shoveling them down.
Overall, I was impressed. For a small stand, the food packed some big flavor. And it was pretty reasonably priced at less than $15 for my lunch.
Matt’s is definitely a place that I will return to. I’m sure I will enjoy the sandwiches just as much. And when I do, I’ll let everyone know.
BCE Rating Food: Very Good Service: Good Ambiance: Good Price: Reasonable
Matt’s Chicken Shillington Farmers Market 10 S. Summit Ave Shillington, PA 19607
Since starting Berks County Eats, I’ve learned a lot – about food and about the food business.
I’ve also learned that when a new restaurant opens, you have to accept that some things aren’t going to be perfect, but what matters is how you feel when you leave the restaurant.
One new restaurant that had us feeling good when we left after our first visit was the Berkshire Family Restaurant.
The Berkshire opened in August, starting with takeout only before quickly expanding into table service that includes breakfast (served all day), lunch and dinner.
Its location has been a Berks County favorite for years. Set along State Hill Road in Wyomissing, just across from the Berkshire Mall, the building is still remembered as the former Arner’s, though it was most recently Giannotti’s Berkshire, which closed in 2018.
We made a visit to the restaurant on a recent Friday evening – Julie, her mother (Peggy), Jakob and I arrived a little after 5 p.m. for dinner and were told there was a 15- to 20-minute wait. The benches were full in the main waiting area so Peggy grabbed a seat in the spacious entryway while Julie and I took Jakob for a walk around the building.
After a short walk, we headed inside. I went to the counter to see where we were in line only to see our name had been crossed off the list. The hostess was not at the stand at the time so I mentioned something when she returned and we had a table in short order.
We were seated at a table in the middle of the main dining room, near what would be the salad bar (at the time of our visit, it was decorated with pumpkins and other fall décor).
Our waitress was very nice and remained attentive throughout our visit, though there was a slight mix-up early on.
Peggy ordered a soup and salad combo with a chicken pasta soup and a Cobb salad with ranch dressing. When the soups arrived – Julie had also ordered a soup – so too, did a house salad with ranch. It was returned to the kitchen, and after this hiccup, the meal was about as good as we could have hoped for.
The chicken pasta soup was very good with large bowtie pasta pieces and plenty of chicken and vegetables.
I needed something a little more substantial than soup and salad so I opted for one of the seven burgers on the menu – The Frenchy.
The Frenchy is described on the menu as “French onion soup meets the burger.” When it arrived, I could see the melted Swiss cheese on top, just like a crock of French onion soup. With my first bite, the onion and broth started to seep out.
It really was a delicious burger. The flavor of the soup penetrated into the burger patty and throughout the toppings. French onion soup is on the main menu, and I would definitely order it by itself sometime.
All burgers are served with fries with upgrades available. One of those upgrades is Greek fries. For an extra $2, my fries were topped with feta cheese and oregano. Feta doesn’t have a whole lot of flavor on its own, but the oregano added a lot to it and made the upgrade worthwhile.
Julie had plain fries with her basket of shrimp – 21 shrimp basket to exact. Though she doesn’t order it often, fried shrimp is one of her favorites. The Berkshire’s version filled her fried food craving and her stomach.
Peggy’s meal – the Cobb salad – was the most healthful of all of our orders. She opted for grilled chicken on top which she enjoyed along with hearty portions of avocado, onion, egg, tomatoes and lettuce. They certainly didn’t skimp on the portions for this salad.
For Jakob, we ordered the grilled cheese (almost three years old, he is now old enough to tell us what he wants when we read the menu to him). We were happy to see him eat his sandwich – all of it except the crust as toddlers will do – and he seemed to really like it.
Jakob’s meal also came with a scoop of ice cream (not pictured). For whatever reason, he wouldn’t eat it. So, daddy got to enjoy some chocolate ice cream for dessert.
Peggy and Julie both ordered dessert – rice pudding – to go. It’s their go-to diner dessert, and a little bit of a splurge that Julie savored in small portions throughout the week.
For all of our food, it was only around $50, in line with what you would expect from a diner.
There were a couple hiccups early on, but those will go away as the staff gains more experience. But we had no complaints about the food. To the contrary, we all left talking about how good our meals were.
And that’s the most important thing for any meal.
BCE Rating Food: Very Good Service: Good Ambiance: Good Price: Very Reasonable
Sometimes it feels like there is an Italian restaurant on just about every corner.
While that is an exaggeration, there is no question that you can find good Italian food wherever you go in Berks County.
Like at Piero’s Pizzeria.
Piero’s is wedged in on the corner of Route 183 and Upper Van Reed Road in Leinbachs, just a short drive north of the Reading Airport and Route 222.
The location has limited parking in the front and on the side of the building, more than enough especially if you’re just stopping in to grab takeout (though Piero’s does have a decent size dining area for those who would prefer to dine-in.)
Our order was prepared quick and was ready to go by the time we made our way from Wyomissing to pick it up.
Piero’s, like many Italian family restaurants, offers a little bit of everything on their menu, including pizza, subs, salads, fried appetizers, burgers and Italian dinners.
I was in the mood for pizza but didn’t want a whole pie so I opted instead for a calzone.
All of Piero’s calzones are stuffed with ricotta and mozzarella and served with a side of marinara sauce for dipping. I decided to add meatballs to mine, creating something between a pizza and a meatball sandwich.
I was not disappointed. It was really the ricotta that sets the calzone apart. The lighter and creamier cheese adds a different element than just mozzarella (as would have been in a Stromboli).
The calzone was also the perfect size for one, though I couldn’t help but order a side of fries. They were the battered kind, fried to a golden crisp and perfect for eating one after another without thinking about it.
Julie, meanwhile, had a tuna melt – her favorite sandwich order. The sandwich was stuffed with tuna and overflowing with lettuce and tomato. The roll was toasted perfectly. It was a very good sandwich, and Julie gave it her stamp of approval.
And our toddler approved of his slice of pizza. Jakob enjoyed his pepperoni pizza. The thin crust pie was a solid offering, and Jakob even ate the pepperoni slices. (He has been known, in the past, to not eat his pepperoni because it is “too spicy”).
We also couldn’t help but order a half dozen of Piero’s ham puffs. Ham puffs are basically pepperoni rolls – rolls of dough filled with cheese and meat – but with slices of ham instead of pepperoni inside. Piero’s uses a very good dough for all of their items and it was just as good in the ham puffs.
Our meal was enjoyable across the board. It wasn’t anything earth-shattering, but Piero’s delivered on everything that we tried.
For everything we got, it was right around $30, not a bad price at all for so much food.
And good food, at that.
BCE Rating Food: Good Service: Very Good Ambiance: Good Price: Reasonable
Now that Berks County has entered the green phase of reopening, restrictions are starting to be lessened for area restaurants and eateries, but restrictions remain in place.
The new rules and regulations have forced businesses to adapt and innovate, from the way the food gets from kitchen to consumer (contactless delivery, curbside pickup) to how seats are arranged – inside and out.
One of the innovations that has come out of the restrictions on dining is Truck N Brew, a weekly event at Willow Glen Park in Sinking Spring.
Willow Glen is best known as the site of Shocktoberfest, the Apple Dumpling Festival, weekly outdoor flea markets and countless other events throughout the year. But on Friday and Saturday nights, Willow Glen is now home to Truck N Brew, an outdoor dining and entertainment venue with food trucks and concessions.
Not being ready for a dine-in experience quite yet, Truck N Brew seemed like a great alternative for a Saturday night dinner.
We arrive at 5 p.m. just as the stands were opening. We weren’t the first ones there, but there weren’t too many others around as we bounced from food truck to food truck and stand to stand in search of our meals.
The lineup of food trucks changes every week – this week featured wood-fired pizza, tacos, Cuban sandwiches, barbecue and more – but the venue is owned and operated by Konopelski Katering, and their concession stands are the anchors of the event.
One of those stands is Fat Jack’s, which operates out of a large kitchen at the end of the row of eateries. The menu was also the most varied of all the options with burgers, sandwiches, fried foods and more.
We both opted for burgers – Julie got the guac and bacon burger while I went with the fajita burger.
For Jakob, we stopped at a food truck called The Biggest Cheese where mac and cheese and grilled cheese sandwiches dominate the menu. Actually, there’s mac and cheese in the grilled cheese sandwiches, but they were accommodating and made a plain old grilled cheese for our toddler to enjoy.
Seating was plentiful. There is a large pavilion with picnic tables spread out (it’s also where the bar is set up – the brew in Truck N Brew). And many more tables surrounding the pavilion. There’s also some wooden counters set up along the lawn’s edge, a place to stand and enjoy your drinks.
We snagged one of the tables outside the pavilion. Despite our car’s thermometer reading 90 degrees, the shaded picnic area felt very comfortable. And we were well-distanced from the nearest occupied table, making it easy to enjoy our delicious burgers.
My fajita burger came topped with grilled peppers, grilled onions lettuce, tomato and jalapeno cheese.
I personally love grilled peppers and onions on my burgers (they are among my go-to toppings at Five Guys), but I wasn’t sure what to expect with the jalapeno cheese. It added only a little heat to the dish, but it certainly added some flavor.
Overall, it was a very satisfying burger.
Julie was also satisfied with her guac and bacon burger. As you might guess, the featured toppings were guacamole and bacon (with lettuce and tomato). You can’t really go wrong with either of those on a burger.
Both of us got a side of fries with our burgers. The small, fresh-cut fries were very good though a little on the salty side (not too salty to stop me from eating them).
Meanwhile Jakob seemed to enjoy his grilled cheese (Julie tried some and said it was good. The bread was toasted well – not burnt – and was nice and buttery). However he was a little distracted because from his seat, he was looking directly at the Sweet Ride Ice Cream truck.
I ventured over and grabbed us some dessert, a cup of vanilla ice cream for Jakob, a cup of banana peanut butter chip ice cream for Julie and an orange cream float with chocolate ice cream for me.
Sweet Ride has always been good, but we’ve enjoyed them even more since they started making (most) of their own ice cream. Julie loves their banana peanut butter chip with the creamy banana base so there was never a doubt as to which flavor she would get.
My float was also very good. The chocolate ice cream was rich and I always enjoy the mix of chocolate and orange. It was definitely worth the extra calories.
It wasn’t the cheapest night out we’ve had but it was still pretty reasonable. Our burgers and fries were less than $25. Jakob’s grilled cheese and bottle of water were around $7. And the ice cream added another $12, bringing our total for the night to right around $45. That’s not bad for three meals and three desserts.
We kept our expectations low going into the evening, but were pleasantly surprised all around. There was more than enough seating to spread out (even at 6 p.m. when we left). There was a great variety of food, and what we had was very good. While I would say the majority of the other patrons weren’t wearing masks, a few were. And all of those working, at least the ones I could see that were interacting with customers, were wearing masks and gloves.
Really, it’s a great idea, one that was obviously fueled by the restrictions of the yellow phase of reopening. But it’s an idea we hope keeps going because we enjoyed it and would definitely go back.
Truck N Brew 94 Park Rd Sinking Spring, PA 19608
BCE Rating Food: Good Service: Very Good Ambiance: Good Price: Reasonable
When I was working in King of Prussia, there were options when I wanted Mediterranean food – schwarma, falafel, kebabs, etc. In Berks County, those are rarities on our restaurant menus.
But I did find all of those and more at Aladdin Mediterranean Restaurant in West Reading.
Aladdin has been around since 2009 when the restaurant renovated a former gas station adjacent to the West Reading Diner (now Americana Diner). More than 10 years later, Aladdin is still going strong, as we found out on a recent Saturday night.
We arrived around 5:30, a little early for dinner, and found just a couple other tables taken in the dining room. Aladdin offers two dining areas. We were seated in a booth by the window in the standard dining room. It featured a large fireplace at one side with photos of beautiful coastal towns, musical instruments and other keepsakes from the old country adorning the walls.
The second room (on the right-hand side when entering the restaurant) has a completely different feel to it. Red curtains cover the windows behind a long row of cushioned bench seats with red and black throw pillows to support diners.
I didn’t remember until I did a little research that the building that currently houses the restaurant was formerly a Getty gas station. It certainly shows no signs of that today.
At our table, I was struggling to make a decision as I looked over the menu. Aladdin promotes itself as offering the “best quality Lebanese and Mediterranean dishes,” and there are a lot to choose from. The one easy decision was choosing an appetizer – Julie and I agreed on stuffed grape leaves.
I first discovered stuffed grape leaves at the annual Greek Food Festival. I really enjoyed them there. And I enjoyed them even more at Aladdin.
The stuffed leaves were shaped – and sized – like cigars and filled with rice and seasoned ground beef (a vegetarian option is available). The filling was very good; the beef had hints of many different seasonings and spices that I couldn’t immediately identify. The tangy leaves were done well, and it was a great beginning to the meal. Even Jakob, our often fussy two-year-old, ate his (the filling, at least).
Deciding on the main course was more difficult. Entrees at Aladdin include kebabs; schwarma; rack of lamb and lamb chops; various sautes and a range of vegetarian options. I settled on the chicken saute.
Though it sounds boring, it was anything but. The chicken breast was sauteed with green peppers, onion and tomato in a garlic sauce. I really enjoyed the olive oil-based sauce. It had enough garlic to really pop without overpowering the flavors on the plate. The tomatoes really stood out for me, too. They were diced and cooked so tender that they practically melted away. The tomatoes were like little bites of marinara sauce throughout the dish.
Many of the entrees, including both mine and Julie’s, are served with rice pilaf. The pilaf was lightly seasoned, but good. I did enjoy using it to soak up some more of the garlic sauce at the end.
Because that wasn’t enough food, the meal also came with a side: your choice of hummus, baba ghannouj, tabbouleh or fattoush.
I love baba ghannouj and was excited to try Aladdin’s version. I didn’t have to wait long as it was actually served as an appetizer along with a basket of pitas. Baba ghannouj, if you’re not familiar, it is basically hummus but it’s made with pureed eggplant as the base instead of chickpeas. It’s more moist than hummus, a texture I like better. I also prefer the flavor as it’s less nutty.
Aladdin’s version was everything I wanted it to be.
While this was my first visit to Aladdin, Julie has actually been there twice for business lunches. And she has had the same thing on each visit: lamb kebabs.
The skewers feature large chunks of lamb mixed with onions, served over rice pilaf and choice of two sides. Lamb meat is so rich; I always enjoy it. But while it was grilled, it picked up this nice char that trapped in even more flavor. It was very good, and I understand why Julie loves it so much.
For her two sides, Julie ordered tabbouleh and hummus. The hummus came on the plate with the kebabs. It’s a very good hummus, but I still prefer the baba ghannouj (that’s just me, though).
The tabbouleh actually arrived early as an appetizer. Tabbouleh is a Mediterranean salad that uses parsley as the base green. Aladdin makes theirs with cracked wheat, tomato, oil and lemon juice (with some lettuce thrown in).
It’s really flavorful. I think the lemon juice shines nicely giving the whole salad a bright citrus flavor. I would order the salad as an entree on a return visit.
Not knowing how Jakob would take to the cuisine, we played it safe and ordered him chicken fingers and fries off the kids menu. We hadn’t anticipated that he would fill up on grape leaves and tabbouleh before it even arrived. Though he did eat some, we brought most of it home for him to have later in the week.
We were all stuffed by the end of the meal and didn’t have room for the baklava sundae that we really wanted. We did splurge a little when we ordered rose tea for our drinks. The iced tea was given a little rose flavoring (I believe it was from a syrup). It was almost like sweet tea but with a little extra herbal flavor that we found refreshing.
I have to admit that the meal was more expensive than we had anticipated at $78. Part of that was our rose tea ($4 each) and also the fact that we ordered an appetizer ($12). The entrees were $22 and $25, respectively. When you look at the portion sizes, though, I didn’t feel cheated at all.
Aladdin’s food is serving a niche here in Berks County, and I’m glad for it. The next time I have a craving for baba ghannouj, I know where to turn.
BCE Rating Food: Very Good Service: Very Good Ambiance: Very Good Price: A Little Pricey
Aladdin Mediterranean Restaurant 401 Penn Ave West Reading, PA 19611
Who wants ice cream in the cold of winter? This guy.
I’ve never believed ice cream to be a summer-only treat.
It’s year-round goodness. Especially on special occasions – like when mommy has
to go away for work and leaves daddy home alone with a two-year-old.
But where to get ice cream – and a meal – in January? One
option is Pop’s Malt Shoppe in Kutztown.
Pop’s Malt Shoppe takes on the look and feel of a 50s/60s
diner and soda fountain: the checker board floor, the red tables with stainless
steel accents, the Elvis music playing through the speakers.
It’s not a unique concept in Berks County – Bel-Air in
Bechtelsville and Scoupe DeVille in Birdsboro both have similar concepts. But
unlike those, Pop’s is open year-round. So even when there’s snow on the ground
and the temperatures are below freezing, Pop’s is open.
That was one of the reasons I decided to stop in on a Sunday
night in January – that and the fact that they had recently posted about their
newly renovated dining area. It was just Jakob and I, and it took him a few
minutes to realize where we were. “Ice cream shop?” he asked. My
two-year-old is obsessed with our collection of Curious George books, including
Curious George Goes to the Ice Cream Shop. I guess Pop’s has a look that’s
Julie and I had actually never visited Pop’s while we were
students at Kutztown. But we did stop in for ice cream a few years ago.
We were only in the take-out area, but it still had the same
vibe as the dining room with pink walls covered in retro signs.
On that visit, we both ordered sundaes: a brownie sundae and
a cookie monster sundae. The latter featured Pop’s fresh-baked cookies with
choice of ice cream. Photos of fresh-baked cookies have been a staple on Pop’s
social media accounts and taste as good as they look – especially with ice cream.
Similarly, the soft, chocolatey brownies were baked in-house
as well. It’s a nice touch that helps to set Pop’s apart from other places.
For Jakob and I, ice cream would have to wait until after
Pop’s food menu is what you would expect – burgers, dogs, a
handful of sandwich options, lots of fried foods and salad, in case you want to
feel a little less guilty about that ice cream afterward.
I decided to order Pop’s homemade barbecue sandwich with
fries. It was a standard sloppy Joe – ground beef with onion and tomato mixed
in with a little barbecue sauce. The roll was smaller than I was expecting,
though that could have just been from its obvious trip to the panini press. It
was good, but nothing to write home about. The meat was falling out of the bun
so it was still a hearty meal, too.
The fries were good, as well. They were crinkle-cut and done
well, though I needed to add a little salt for some extra flavor.
One cool thing that I only picked up on because I heard
another table mention it is that the food is served on plates made of melted
vinyl records (or at least are made to look that way).
Jakob’s meal also arrived in style. Kids meals are served in
paper models of classic cars, and Jakob’s grilled cheese and mac and cheese
bites cruised in on a Ford Fairlane.
He enjoyed the grilled cheese. The kids meal is actually a
half sandwich using a single slice of bread which actually works out well
because it means less crust, which Jakob is currently rejecting.
But he certainly didn’t reject the mac and cheese bites. The
meal came with four of them, and he happily finished them off without leaving a
trace. They were a simple, kid-friendly side not unlike anywhere else, but
Jakob enjoyed them, and that’s all that mattered to me in the moment.
With our meals finished, I couldn’t resist ordering us a
treat (this is what happens when dad is left in charge for the night). We got a
soft-serve sundae with Oreo cookies, strawberries and chocolate syrup (plus the
obligatory whipped cream and cherry on top).
It was wonderful. The vanilla soft serve was nice on its
own, but the toppings are what made it. There were 22 toppings to choose from
so narrowing it to three (the first topping is free, the rest are 50 cents
each) wasn’t easy, but they were all good decisions.
There wasn’t an overwhelming amount of any single
topping. The Oreos were concentrated on
one side and the strawberries on the other so every bite was a little
different, but no less enjoyable. The ice cream was easily the best part of the
During our visit, the dining room was filled mostly with
college students (a few had family members with them) returning for the spring
semester, but Pop’s is certainly a family friendly destination in the college
town. The price is right for a family meal as well. With dessert, it was about
Our service was good as well. Two different waitresses
helped us at different times as they worked as a team to cover a fairly busy
dining room. At one point one of them apologized for the wait and said there
was a mix-up with my meal. I honestly would not have even known because it was
only about 15 minutes from the time we ordered until the food arrived.
It wasn’t a gourmet meal, but it didn’t need to be. We were there for the ice cream, and that didn’t disappoint.
BCE Rating Food: Fair Ice Cream: Very Good Service: Very Good Ambiance: Very Good Price: Reasonable
Pop’s Malt Shoppe 208 W. Main St Kutztown, PA 19530