A vegan black bean and sweet potato burger with side of chips from Good Life Organics in Reading PA

Good Life Organics

The exterior of Good Life Companies headquarters in Reading PA

For many, an important part of dining out is truly knowing what you’re eating – knowing that the food is made from the highest quality ingredients.

By using high-quality, locally sourced, organic ingredients, Good Life Organics makes it easy for you to feel good about what you’re putting in your body.

Five shelves of assorted organic products at Good Life Organics in Reading PA

The juice bar and eatery promises that everything is as close to 100% organic as possible, and the menu gives special mention to the local businesses and farms that the ingredients are sourced from.

Good Life Organics also makes it easy on their customers by offering the convenience of online ordering through Toast Tab, the same platform we used for our recent lunch at Comalli Taqueria. Not only does it make it easy to order ahead, but there are pictures of most menu items which helped the decision-making process.

Tables and chairs, including two arm chairs, at Good Life Organics in Reading PA

After completing the order, I made the short drive to the Good Life Companies headquarters on Lancaster Pike, just outside Shillington. Good Life Organics is located in what is essentially the lobby of the corporate building.

The coffee, tea and kombucha taps at Good Life Organics in Reading PA

Enter through the main doors, and Good Life Organics is on the left. There is plenty of seating between the tables and a pair of armchairs by the window. Across from the counter are the coffee, tea and kombucha taps. In the corner is the Good Life Grab ‘N Go, a small marketplace filled with organic goodies that are also found on the menu as toppings and blends.

It wasn’t long after I arrived that my order was ready and I was back on the road headed home.

A flatbread topped with hummus, mushrooms, and pumpkin seeds from Good Life Organics in Reading PA

With a large menu, we decided to try a variety of their lunch and dinner offerings. For me, it started with the hummus veggie flatbread.

In addition to garlic hummus, it came topped with sautéed mushrooms, onions, garlic, pumpkin seeds, hemp seeds and extra virgin olive oil. I enjoyed everything, but the garlic hummus really shone through. It wasn’t overly garlicky, but the hint was just enough. The caramelized onions were a very nice touch, too, providing all the sweetness that the flatbread needed.

A cup of sweet potato, black bean and kale soup from Good Life Organics in Reading Pa

Good Life has a rotation of seasonal soups available (according to the menu, they are sourced from the Half Dozen Cafe and Dove Song Dairy). The one that caught my attention was the sweet potato, black bean and kale. And I was not disappointed. The sweet potatoes popped with flavor and along with the black beans made it a hearty, and delicious side.

To get the full experience, I also tried one of Good Life’s juices (sourced from Rijuice in Lancaster). The “Orange You Glad” is a combination of mandarin orange, apple, lime and lemon juices with turmeric. It was good, but I have to admit the turmeric takes some getting used to and may not be for everyone.

A vegan black bean and sweet potato burger with side of chips from Good Life Organics in Reading PA

There are eight sandwich options on the menu at Good Life, including the vegan black bean and sweet potato burger that Julie ordered. It was topped with greens, Fabanaise (vegan mayo) and guacamole.

It was a good “burger.” The patty was very flavorful with both the flavor of black bean and the sweet potato coming through. It was soft, but it stayed together throughout. And guacamole is always a welcome addition to any dish.

A bright blue smoothie and cup of Orange You Glad juice from Good Life Organics in Reading PA

Julie also ordered the most intriguing-looking smoothie on the menu, the blue spirulina bliss. It included banana, avocado, maple syrup, vanilla chai multi-collagen protein, vanilla extract and E3 Live Blue Majik Spirulina, which gives the juice its bright blue hue.

Spirulina, for those that aren’t familiar (like I wasn’t before looking it up) is a type of algae that has been used in foods for centuries, and now because of its high protein content and other nutrients, it’s become increasingly more common in things like protein bars and smoothies.

It may have given the smoothie its distinctive color, but the flavor was dominated by the banana. It was actually surprising to take a sip from a blue smoothie and have the strongest flavor be the familiar yellow fruit. If you can get past the color, it’s delicious.

The food and drinks were very good, but I have to say that we had a little bit of sticker shock at the price. The smoothie and the juice, especially, are a little pricy by Berks County standards. All smoothies are 16 ounces and cost $8.95. My 12-ounce juice was $6.75. In all, our total was around $45. The food was around $30, which is more in line with what we are used to paying.

And we would pay it again because Julie’s vegan burger along with my flatbread and soup were all very good. And they were made with foods that made us feel good about eating them.

Good Life Organics definitely made a good first impression.

BCE Rating
Food: Very Good
Service: Excellent
Ambiance: Very Good
Price: A Little Pricy

Good Life Organics
2395 Lancaster Pk
Reading, PA 19607

Cafes & Coffeeshops Lunch & Dinner Vegan & Vegetarian
1787 Brewing Company Vegan Black Bean Burger

1787 Brewing Company

1787 Brewing Company

I’m sure I’ve said this before on the blog, but one thing everyone should know about me is that I love bar food. The only problem is, I don’t drink beer.

Because of that, I always feel a little awkward going to bars, especially microbreweries where most of the people coming in are coming for the craft brews.

1787 Brewing Company

Oftentimes, my love of food wins out, which is what happened on a recent visit to 1787 Brewing Company in Hamburg.

1787 opened in May 2018 in the former Miller’s 5 & 10 in downtown Hamburg. The old-time general store was a fixture along Fourth Street in the borough’s business district until it closed in 2015.

1787 Brewing Company

The name 1787 Brewing Company comes from the year the borough was founded, so it’s only right that it now takes up a historic building in the heart of town.

1787 Brewing Company

Julie and I were amazed by how deep the building actually is. The front bar is fairly large, but it opens into a larger dining room overlooking the brewing vats. Throughout the dining room there were nods to Hamburg’s history, including old signs from local businesses new and old, including Spokes Bike Shop, Schlenger Motors and the Windsor Press.

The food menu is certainly not robust, but it is well-curated, featuring a mix of burgers, sandwiches and flatbreads.

In addition, 1787 Brewing Company offers weekly specials. That’s where I found the honey ham flatbread.

1787 Brewing Company Honey Ham Flatbread

It was topped with ricotta, shaved ham, fig puree and cranberries, and it looked beautiful when it arrived with bubbly, slightly darkened cheese.

1787 Brewing Company Honey Ham Flatbread

And it tasted as good as I had imagined – a wonderful sweet and salty blend that was hearty and savory. The ham was (mostly) under the cheese which kept it from getting burnt. The fig puree ensured every bite had a note of sweetness, but the bites with the cranberries were the best. I look forward to trying more flatbreads from 1787 in the future.

Among the main menu selections are two “dietary accommodations.” One veggie burger with cheese and one vegan black bean burger. The latter was Julie’s selection.

1787 Brewing Company Vegan Black Bean Burger

The black bean burger was topped with guacamole, salsa, romaine and red onion on a sweet potato bun.

Black bean burgers are a mixed bag. They are flavorful in a very different way from meat, but they don’t hold their shape very well. The patty was definitely soft and started to fall apart, but it had a great flavor, especially with the salsa and guac to complement it. The sweet potato bun was also very good and would be a great addition to any burger.

1787 Brewing Company Vegan Black Bean Burger

Neither of us are vegans, but we would definitely order it again.

On the side, Julie upgraded her chips to fries. They were thin-cut and fried to a dark brown, but not burnt. They were a nice side to complete a good meal.

Looking at the restaurant’s website, I knew 1787 had a kids menu, but I had no idea how accommodating they would be. Not only did they have ample high chairs, they offered us a choice of crayons or Play-Doh for our little 15-month-old.

1787 Brewing Company Chicken Fingers

Unfortunately Jakob was more interested in eating the crayons than the chicken fingers from his kids meal. I ended up eating some while we were there – not bad, but they were pretty basic (they are all-natural from Bell and Evans so that’s a definite plus). We took most of it home and Jakob did enjoy the leftovers, without the distractions of the restaurant.

We didn’t order beer – trust me, you wouldn’t want me reviewing beer anyway – but we did order a couple drinks: iced tea for me, soda for Julie. Along with our food, that brought our total bill to a little more than $35.

Truth be told, if Jakob had been more settled, we would have splurged on dessert. Lava cake, specifically.

But that will have to wait for another time. And there will be another time because at 1787 Brewing Company, the food is definitely worth it, whether you are a beer drinker or not.

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

1787 Brewing Company
43 S. Fourth St
Hamburg, PA 19526

Bars & Pubs Breweries & Wineries Lunch & Dinner Reviews
Juliana's Ricotta Balls

5 Favorite Appetizers of 2018

Our annual end-of-year tradition continues as we take a look back on the best things we tried this year. Today: our five favorite appetizers of 2018.

Savory Grille Steak Grilled Flatbread

Flatbread – Savory Grille

Savory Grille’s menu is constantly evolving and that means new appetizers, entrees and desserts on every meal. During our first visit to northeastern Berks’ fine dining destination in January, the appetizers included an incredible flatbread topped with steak, fennel frond pesto, shaved manchego and fig compote. It was sweet, savory, salty, creamy, earthy and all around delicious. Read Full Review

Shredded Pork Rolls - Lang Restaurant

Shredded Pork Roll – Lang

The former Hong Thanh is back in its original downtown Reading location with a new name but the same amazing food. On our first visit to the Sixth Street location, we were extremely impressed with everything – my vermicelli bowl and Julie’s crispy lo mein included – but it’s the shredded pork rolls, served with the house Lang sauce, that make our best-of list for 2018. Read Full Review

Juliana's Ricotta Balls

Ricotta Balls – Juliana’s

Juliana’s ricotta balls looked like a pair of snowballs sitting on top of a bed of red sauce. The mounds of cheese were rolled and baked to a crisp, but with a melt-in-your-mouth creaminess that made for an excellent first impression. Read Full Review

Fork & Ale Uovo da Raviolo

Uova De Raviolo – Fork & Ale

Everything that we tasted on our return visit to Fork & Ale was creative and flavorful. The uova de raviolo – or egg yolk ravioli – was no exception. As soon as I pierced the pasta with my fork, the egg yolk began pouring out, mixing on the plate with the sage butter sauce to add more depth to the sauce. With creamy ricotta inside the pasta and salty, savory bacon and bitter chard on top, it was an incredible mix of texture and taste. Read Full Review

Coconut Chicken Soup – Masa

Masa – the hibachi and sushi bar that replaced Hong Thanh in the Target shopping center in Wyomissing – had some very impressive dishes, first among those for me was the coconut chicken soup. It featured a creamy, flavorful broth, but the addition of cherry tomatoes set it apart from other versions of the same dish. Read Full Review

Appetizers Best of Berks County Eats
Savory Grille Chicken Risotto

Savory Grille

Savory Grille Entrance

On November 17, Julie and I welcomed Jakob Laurence Brown to the world. The last two-and-a-half months have been the best of our lives, but one thing has been missing during that time. Julie and I haven’t had a night out to ourselves.

With Julie’s birthday falling at the end of January, we had the perfect excuse to change that. And we had the perfect place for our date night: Savory Grille in Seisholtzville.

Seisholtzville is about as far removed from Downtown Reading as it gets in Berks County. The tiny village sits in the shadow of Bear Creek Mountain Resort near the border of Berks and Lehigh Counties. (Despite being inside the Berks County line, it has a Macungie ZIP Code).

The drive wasn’t bad, though, as we drove about 40 minutes north from our Wyomissing home, driving Route 12 past Pricetown before taking a series of back roads that led to the small village.

Savory Grille Interior

Savory Grille, opened in 1997, sits at one of the two intersections in the village in the Seisholtzville Hotel, a stop for travelers since the 19th century. The restaurant has two dining areas – the main dining room with the bar where we checked in for our reservations and the Arbor Room, a modern attachment to the historic hotel where we were led to our seats. The two dining areas are connected by a window where the bartender hands out cocktails to the wait staff in the Arbor Room.

Savory Grille Drinks

Reading reviews on Yelp and other sites, the Arbor Room was listed as the place to be, and it was no wonder. While the main dining room was small and noisy – conversation seemed to echo off the walls and amplify – the Arbor Room was quiet, yet cozy. The original exterior wall makes it feel older, but the modern wood framing insulates the room enough to keep guests warm on a cold winter’s night.

Savory Grille Chicken Risotto

The first thing to arrive at our table was the amuse-bouche, an excellent grilled chicken risotto that set the tone for the meal to come. Though only large enough for one bite, it was perfectly prepared and bursting with flavor. The buttery rice and the spice-laden chicken worked so well together that if it were an entree option, I would have had our waitress change my order.

Savory Grille Breads

Next to arrive at the table was the bread. Normally, I don’t mention the complimentary bread, but the oatmeal stout bread was definitely worth mentioning. The slice was heavy and grainy, but with a deep flavor that was greatly enhanced by the alcohol infusion.

This being a special occasion, we decided to get the full experience and order one of the evening’s nine appetizer options – a grilled flatbread with sliced steak, fennel frond pesto, shaved manchego and fig compote.

Savory Grille Steak Grilled Flatbread

It was an outstanding starter that was at once sweet, salty, savory, creamy and earthy. The flatbread was light and airy. The steak – cooked rare, was the perfect pairing for the sweet figs. And every bite just melted away.

Next out was the salad, served with one of three house dressings. For mine, it was the blackberry yogurt.

Savory Grille Salad

This was the one and only part of the meal that let me down. The dressing was fine, a thick raspberry vinaigrette that was more sour than sweet. But there was just too much of it, my lips puckering more with every bite.

Julie’s orange-thyme dressing was lighter and more enjoyable with a sweeter taste that was easier to take.

After the salads, there was no more disappointment. For my entree, I ordered the five spiced duck breast. Our waitress wanted to be sure that I knew what I was getting. “That is served medium rare, is that ok?” she asked.

“I guess it has to be,” I replied.

Generally, I shy away from anything served less than medium-well, but the dish sounded too appetizing to pass up.

Savory Grille Five Spice Duck Breast

Let me tell you, this duck was cooked to perfection. The duck was served on a bed of mashed yams with blueberry compote and sauce gastrique.

With the spice rub, the duck breast could have held up on its own, but with the sauce – a sweet and sour blend – and the blueberries, it was hands-down one of the best dishes that I have tasted on my Berks County Eats journey. A blueberry would burst with nearly every bite, adding sweet and tart notes to the dish. I can’t speak highly enough about it.

The smashed yams and the vegetables on the plate were after thoughts. They were simply prepared with no frills or addition – though the green beans were tied with a sliver of onion in a beautiful presentation.

Savory Grille Pork Tenderloin

Julie’s dish was all about the sauce. Her pork tenderloin was served on a bed of toasted barley and butternut squash, but it was the caramelized onion sauce that really popped. Without it, the pork – though cooked tender and juicy – was rather plain. The onion sauce, though, added a little sweet and a strong flavor that carried through the dish.

The toasted barley added needed texture to the dish, counterbalancing the soft squash. The dish was also served with the same vegetable medley as mine, with green beans, carrots and broccolini.

When celebrating a birthday, anniversary or other special occasion, one thing is for sure: we order dessert. The list that our waitress read off was long and filled with tempting items – crème brulee and coffee cake were among the selections – but we went for something a little more chocolatey.

Savory Grille Chocolate Tart

The chocolate tart was a pastry filled with chocolate ganache and topped with caramel, vanilla bean ice cream, fresh mint and a sugar cookie, garnished with chocolate syrup and powdered sugar.

It was quite the indulgence, each layer seemingly sweeter than the next. As the ingredients slowly melted together, it was even better. Though not found in every bite, the mint really stood out and added a light refreshment to the otherwise heavy and decadent dessert.

On our celebration dinners, I always expect to spend around $100, and our total at the Savory Grille was just shy of that. But for what was a two-hour dining experience with excellent food and atmosphere, it was money well spent.

Savory Grille provided one of the most memorable meals that we have had on a Berks County Eats visit, and with a menu that changes almost daily, new experiences are waiting for us on every future visit.

And I have no doubt that there will be future visits.

BCE Rating:
Food: Excellent
Service: Good
Ambiance: Excellent (in the Arbor Room)
Price: Expensive, but Fair

Savory Grille
2934 Seisholtzville Rd
Macungie, PA 18062

Savory Grille Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Dessert Finer Dining Lunch & Dinner Reviews
The exterior of Emily's facing south on Route 10

Emily’s

emily-s

A romantic dinner means something different to everyone.

For me, it’s pretty simple. It’s a special night out with my wife where we splurge a little for finer food, drinks (she drinks, I drive) and the ambiance of a nice restaurant.

So when it came time for our third anniversary, I was charged with finding a place for a romantic dinner for two.

Fortunately, Berks County has no shortage of restaurants that could be considered “romantic,” and on this occasion, that led us on a short drive south along Route 10 to Emily’s.

The historic building that Emily’s calls home has stood along Morgantown Road for nearly 200 years. At one time, the restaurant served as a local post office, a history that is celebrated in the uniquely appointed Post Office bar room, with PO Boxes lining the shelves and “Mail Pouch Tobacco” scrolled across the far wall.

backyard-emily-s

We were led past several intimate dining rooms, through the bar and out the back door to the creekside porch. Our table was along the rail overlooking the backyard, which doubles as event space for receptions and parties, evidenced by the worn out grass where a tent would generally be set up. A family of bright yellow finches enjoyed their own supper at the four feeders set up along the creek, which was merely a small trail of water as it trickled past the building.

lamb-sausage-flatbread-emily-s

We started our dinner by sharing an order of lamb sausage flatbread. The triangular flatbread pieces were topped with two kinds of cheese (Fontina and Mozzarella), caramelized onions and red currant syrup, garnished with fresh herbs.

The first thing you notice is the chunks of sausage, but the first thing you taste is the red currant. Red currant is a variety of European gooseberry, and when pureed into the syrup, it provides a very sweet flavor. Mix that with the slightly spicy lamb sausage and the mild cheese, and the ingredients combined for one of the best appetizers I have had.

house-salad-raspberry-vinagrette-emily-s

In between the flatbread and our main course we were served our house salads, which were offered with one of four homemade salad dressings, including raspberry vinaigrette. It was thicker than I had expected with a beautiful purple color and just a hint of sweetness to balance out the sour of the vinegar.

Emily’s has more than a dozen entrees and several more pasta options that include everything from chicken and ribs to duck and scallops, but it was the Two Peas in a Pasta that caught my eye.

two-peas-in-a-pasta-emily-s

The namesake peas, spring peas and snow peas, were tossed with fettuccine pasta, prosciutto and leeks in a parmesan sauce. The sauce was thick and creamy like an alfredo, but with a lighter flavor. The prosciutto, which was chopped into tiny pieces, added a little bit of salt. Instead of being served al dente, the peas were cooked soft so that as I twirled my fettuccine, a pea pod would often find its way onto my fork as well. It was heavy and filling, but also very good with excellent flavor.

On the other side of the table, my wife enjoyed Emily’s pork rib cap steak, marinated pork steak topped with chorizo sausage and smoky lime aioli, served with a mixed vegetables and wild rice.

pork-rib-cap-steak-emily-s

The pork was cooked tender with just a little bit of fat remaining. The heat of the chorizo was tempered by the sweetness of the lime and the rice, which was tossed with walnuts and cranberries, the latter providing a hit of sweetness in almost every bite. With the two meats, it was like eating two entrees at once, both of which were very good.

chocolate-brownie-parfait-emily-s

In true romantic fashion, we decided to share a dessert to end the evening. Even though neither of us were hungry anymore, we couldn’t pass on the chocolate parfait, a tall glass layered with chocolate mousse and brownie. The brownie was crumbled so that you had a little bit of the cake in every bite. It was very rich, but so delicious and satisfying.

With entrees that ranged in price from $15 to $30, our $60 check (which also included a mixed drink for my wife) was on the lower end of a meal for two at Emily’s and worth every penny.

It was a slower weeknight so we sat and enjoyed the cool evening air for a few minutes after our meal. The finches were fighting for space on the feeders as the sun was just beginning to set. As we sat, full and content from our meal, it was the perfect ending to a romantic night out.

And I was already looking forward to our next romantic dinner.

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

Emily’s
3790 Morgantown Rd
Mohnton, PA 19540

Emily's on Urbanspoon

Finer Dining Lunch & Dinner Uncategorized