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
The Greenhouse Cafe
18 State Hill Rd
Wyomissing, PA 19610