Cinnamon Roll Pancakes from Wild Sage Coffee and Kitchen

Wild Sage Coffee & Kitchen

Wild Sage Coffee and Kitchen Exterior

When it opened in Spring 2017, Wild Sage Coffee and Kitchen brought a unique vibe and menu to downtown Reading.

For the first year and a half after it opened, the cafe’s hours were limited to weekday breakfast and lunch: great for those who live and work and downtown Reading but not great for people like me with a long commute.

Inside Wild Sage Coffee and Kitchen

Then last fall, Wild Sage introduced weekend hours, serving brunch every Saturday and Sunday. Now two years after Wild Sage opened for business, Julie and I finally had an opportunity to visit the little cafe on Washington Street.

The location is convenient to the downtown business district along the 700 block of Washington. We arrived to find the block parked full. Thankfully the Poplar and Walnut garage is right around the corner (the charge for up to an hour is $2 but we actually didn’t have to pay anything when we put the ticket in the machine).

Looking out the front window of Wild Sage Coffee and Kitchen

Before Wild Sage took over, the stone town home housed a doctor’s office. The decor inside is simple with gray walls and a hardwood floor. The walls featured paintings and drawings from local artists. The bells on the door jangled with every passing car. “Our ghost,” one employee joked as the sound caught my attention.

On weekends, the full menu – both breakfast and lunch – are available along with a select few brunch-only specials. The menu changes seasonally but always features soups, salads, sandwiches and grain bowls for lunch with sandwiches, toast, fruit bowls and select sweets at breakfast.

Wild Sage Coffee and Kitchen Teas

And of course they have a full menu of specialty drinks that includes coffee, tea, smoothies and more. I decided to try the iced chai tea while Julie went with a cold brewed tea.

Chai lattes are a favorite of mine, but not everyone offers a cold version of the spiced tea so I was excited to see it on Wild Sage’s menu. It did not disappoint. It had the right blend of chai spice and creamy milk to make for a refreshing mid-morning drink. Julie also enjoyed her lavender lemon tea – unsweetened but with a strong, relaxing lavender flavor.

For our meals, I stuck with the breakfast side of the menu while Julie went with lunch.

Cinnamon Roll Pancakes from Wild Sage Coffee and Kitchen

My sweet tooth told me to order the cinnamon roll pancakes: two pancakes topped with a cream cheese glaze and candied walnuts with cinnamon sugar. They were a true indulgence.

The cream cheese glaze was  delicious and the walnuts added some nice texture. But it was the cinnamon sugar, which had been nicely caramelized, that really hit on the perfect flavor combination.

I had also ordered a hash brown waffle, one of the sides listed on the brunch-only menu. Unfortunately I was told that it was no longer being offered. Instead of replacing it with bacon or a fried egg (the only other sides listed) I stuck with just the pancakes. I probably could have eaten something else but I really didn’t need to so in the end I didn’t miss it.

Wild Sage Red Pepper Soup

For her lunch, Julie went with a soup and sandwich combo. For the soup, she opted for their roasted red pepper soup. It was topped with feta cheese and balsamic drizzle, the former added a tang and a little creaminess.

The only complaint was that it could have been hotter. It was warm, but it wasn’t the steaming cup of hot soup that would be expected.

Wild Sage Maple Bacon Sandwich

Her maple bacon sandwich was also a winner in her book. It featured turkey, apple, cheddar cheese, bacon and a maple spread on thick-cut white toast.

Turkey, bacon and cheddar always go well together, and Julie enjoyed the addition of the maple spread -a sweet sauce – and the apples which gave the sandwich a crunchy texture.

Our meal was very good all around. And even with our two drinks, we spent less than $30 so I’d say it was a good deal as well.

I’m glad that Wild Sage added weekend hours so those of us outside the city can enjoy this great little cafe downtown. Hopefully more guests will take advantage of it because it seemed like a relatively slow day during what would be considered the lunch rush.

At least I can say that we will be back.

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

Wild Sage Coffee & Kitchen
731 Washington St
Reading, PA 19601

Brunch Cafes & Coffeeshops Reviews
Shillington Farmers Market Bacon Egg Cheese

Shillington Farmers Market Cafe

Shillington Farmers Market Cafe

In the past year, Berks County Eats has experienced the re-emergence of the Shillington Farmers Market through great meals. We’ve fallen in love with the Brocmar taco at Brocmar Smokehouse and rekindled our love of empanadas at Mi Casa Su Casa Cafe.

Among the dining options added to the market in past 12 months is the Shillington Farmers Market Cafe, a no-frills eatery tucked in a corner of the market behind Max Crema’s Coffee.

Shillington Farmers Market Cafe

The Cafe feels like a small diner. You can watch the meals being prepared in the tiny kitchen behind the counter as a wait staff of two takes care of the customers in front. It had a decent crowd during our visit, though there were tables available in the small dining room throughout our meal.

Julie, Jakob and I settled in at a table for four and menus were dropped off promptly and we were served soon after.

Shillington Farmers Market Cafe

I ordered three blueberry pancakes (the plan being that I would share my meal with Jakob, my nearly year-old son who recently discovered his love for pancakes).

Shillington Farmers Market Cafe Blueberry Pancakes

The pancakes were thick and fluffy with large whole blueberries inside. It was served with a cup of butter on the side (or on top, rather) and syrup. The pancakes were very good and there was plenty of fruit, but I did need the syrup. It was sweet enough without it, but a little dry. The syrup took care of that and the pancakes were a hit with both myself and Jakob.

Two-thirds of the way through, Jakob and I both had enough. It was then that our server said, “I’ve never seen anyone eat the whole thing.” I’m half-tempted to return now just to try to take on the three-pancake stack myself.

Shillington Farmers Market Bacon Egg Cheese

Julie was able to finish her fried egg, bacon and cheese on toast. From-scratch sandwiches like this are always better than the fast-food versions and Julie certainly enjoyed hers. She also was a fan of the hash browns which she said were done perfectly.

My corned beef hash – hash browns with sliced corned beef – were not cooked as perfectly. While I enjoyed the use of fresh sliced corned beef, the potatoes were burnt. Thankfully, I didn’t need it anyway.

Shillington Farmers Market Cafe Corned Beef Hash

Also, and I can’t believe this, but our meal was only $15. That was with an apple juice and an orange juice in addition to our food. That’s a good value, especially considering neither Julie nor I were hungry for lunch after such a robust breakfast.

The Cafe may not be the fanciest restaurant in Berks County, and it’s only open three days a week (Thursday through Saturday) with the Farmers Market, but it’s a good little spot for a no-fuss meal.

And with Brocmar Smokehouse and Mi Casa Su Casa Cafe, the Shillington Farmers Market is definitely worth a visit.

BCE Rating
Food: Good
Service: Very Good
Ambiance: Fair
Value: Bargain

Shillington Farmers Market Cafe
10 S. Summit Ave
Shillington, PA 19607

Breakfast & Brunch Farmers Market Meals Reviews

Brooks Cafe

Brooks Cafe in Douglassville, PA

It’s not often that Julie and I get to go out for breakfast.

During the week, my commute to King of Prussia is a major hindrance to enjoying a morning meal together so we end up going out for dinner much more often.

So we usually reserve breakfast trips for weekends and holidays. And on Labor Day, with Julie and I hosting dinner, we decided to treat ourselves to breakfast.

We needed a restaurant that was open, and one that we hadn’t yet checked off our list. The name at the top was Brooks Cafe.

The specials sound amazing too.

Brooks Cafe is tucked in a strip mall along westbound 422 in Douglassville. The location was formerly home to Don Julio Mexican Restaurant (whose logo still appears on the marquee along with Brooks’).

The breakfast-and-lunch joint took over the space in 2016 and has made it their own. Posters and portraits of Audrey Hepburn in her famous Breakfast at Tiffany’s style cover the walls around the dining area.

Brooks Cafe is much larger than it looks from the outside.

The dining room itself is much larger than expected. There is seating for at least 80 – fourteen tables, five booths and one combination of the two fill the room. Audrey watches over them all.

Also larger than expected: the menu. Breakfast is two full pages, with a wide selection of bowls, omelets, eggs, pancakes, waffles and French toast.

When I say a wide selection of French toast, I’m not just talking about toppings. I’m talking about French toasted croissants, banana nut bread, cinnamon buns, and my choice – Hawaiian bread.

Mmm...Hawaiian bread French toast

Brooks’ Hawaiian bread French toast featured three slices of Hawaiian bread (duh) topped with stripes of pineapple, toasted coconut and yogurt.

The meal was also served with a cup of pancake syrup that I found entirely unnecessary. Hawaiian bread has a sweeter flavor to begin. The pineapple – and to a lesser extent, the coconut – added to that. And the yogurt gave it the same consistency.

It was a filling and enjoyable start to the day – quite a pick-me-up.

The best kind of homefries

Not being able to help myself, I also ordered a side of homefries. Everyone does homefries a little bit differently, and these were the kind that I like best – large slices of potato that are browned on one side and perfectly soft on the other.

While I always go for the French toast, Julie leans toward pancakes. And at Brooks, it was banana nut pancakes.

The pancakes had walnuts cooked into them with slices of banana and a dusting of powdered sugar on top.

Banana nut pancakes and bacon. Don't forget the bacon.

I always enjoy walnuts in pancakes – for both the flavor and the crunchy texture that they add. It contrasts nicely with the soft banana slices and melt-in-your-mouth pancakes.

Unlike me, Julie was not shy about adding syrup to her pancakes. Either way, they were also very good.

She also couldn’t resist an order of bacon. Crispy, savory bacon. There’s not much else to say about them.

The only other thing left to say about Brooks Cafe is that it is priced perfectly. We both had excellent breakfasts, left feeling full (too full for a real lunch) and spent less than $20.

Everything combined to make our first visit to Brooks one to remember.

And while Julie and I may not dine out for breakfast as often as we would like, Brooks is on my way to work. So I will definitely stop in again.

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

Brooks Cafe
1139 Benjamin Franklin Pkwy
Douglassville, PA 19518

Brooks Cafe Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Breakfast & Brunch Cafes & Coffeeshops Reviews

Americana Diner

americana-diner

Review sites are always hit and miss with me.

I love looking at them to get ideas, but if you look too closely, you’ll see all of the less-than-favorable reviews and have second thoughts about visiting a new restaurant.

They can also be utterly confusing. Take the Americana Diner in New Berlinville, for example.

On Yelp, the restaurant is listed twice: one listing with a Bechtelsville address, the other New Berlinville (it’s in neither, sitting between the two in Colebrookdale Township).

One listing averages 4-stars. The other, 2-stars. It’s as if one page is for those who enjoy the restaurant and the other is a place to gripe after a bad experience.

For me, the only thing to do was to try it for myself.

The Americana Diner looks impressive from the outside. The large stainless steel structure is impressive. Shining in the sun, it almost looks out of place against the grittier storefronts along Route 100.

We arrived a little before 9 a.m. to find the parking lot nearly full — always a good sign. Thankfully, there was a booth for two waiting for a couple just like us.

Our waitress arrived quickly to take our drink order. She returned in short order to take our order. Like all busy diners, the goal is get the customers in and out as fast as possible so our server was very attentive to us.

americana-diner-gyro-skillet

It was hard to choose from among the many and varied menu items. I usually go with French toast, but I wanted to do something different this time. I saw the skillet menu and one, in particular, caught my eye: the gyro skillet.

The gyro skillet was advertised as gyro meat, potatoes, peppers and onions, topped with eggs (scrambled, for me), and served with a side of tzatziki sauce and pita bread.

I was a little thrown off when it arrived with white toast and no sauce. Julie was able to flag down our waitress for me and I got my sauce.

americana-diner-toast

“I don’t sell too many of those so I wasn’t sure what it came with,” was the response I got. She was friendly enough about it, but wouldn’t you double-check if you weren’t sure about something?

Then she said, “people have said it’s kind of bland.” Without the tzatziki sauce, yes.

Gyro meat (it didn’t specify if it was lamb or beef, and I didn’t bother to ask) is generally blander. Potatoes, onions and peppers aren’t exactly enough to make up for it.

The problem with the tzatziki on the side is it was chilled so it added an awkward coldness to the piping hot skillet. I would have much preferred if they would have drizzled the sauce on top, beneath the egg to let everything soak in that creamy flavor.

As it was, it was still a good breakfast, a hearty breakfast, but nothing special.

americana-diner-pineapple-pancakes

Julie’s choice was much simpler: an order of two pineapple pancakes.

The pancakes were almost plate-sized and topped with a heaping helping of pineapple topping, with two cups of Smucker’s breakfast syrup on the side.

I’m a traditionalist so I always prefer the glass dispenser to the little plastic cups. Not that it changes the taste, but I’ve always found the syrup cups make the plate look cheap.

The pineapple topping was good, but I’d rather eat it on an ice cream sundae than on pancakes. Julie enjoyed it, though she was expecting fresh fruit, which would have been a nice touch.

One thing we couldn’t complain about was the price. With our two breakfasts and my glass of OJ, we still only spent $17 for our breakfast.

I can see why the reviews are mixed for Americana. The food is good, not great. The service is fast, but a little rushed. Our waitress made a mistake, but she made things right and was always pleasant.

But you should never let reviews (even mine) influence your opinion of a place.

In the end, the only experience that matters is your own.

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

Americana Diner
682 PA-100
Bechtelsville, PA 19505

Breakfast & Brunch Diners Reviews

Andy Pepper’s

andy-pepper-s-exterior

Berks County Eats has taken me to a lot of crazy places. I’ve been to castles, strip malls, diners, dinner theaters, farmers markets, fire companies and food trucks.

But never did I expect to find Julie and I eating lunch in a post office.

To be fair, Andy Pepper’s isn’t exactly in the Limekiln Post Office. The two share a building — USPS on the left, restaurant on the right — just off of Oley Turnpike Road in the tiny village of Limekiln.

It’s an interesting location on a number of levels. Forget the awkward roommate, Limekiln is as off the beaten path as you can get in Berks County.

Yet when we arrived around lunchtime, the parking lot was busy as customers were coming and going through the front door.

For a small place, there was more seating than I expected, mostly at long, high-top tables with white tiled counter tops and purple trim.

andy-pepper-s-chocolate-milk-cranberry-lemonade

Three black menu boards hang at the order counter. The first lists the drinks (including the homemade chocolate milk and the cranberry lemonade that we got); the second, breakfast; the third, sandwiches.

One of the great things about Andy Pepper’s, as a place that serves only breakfast and lunch, the entire menu is always available so I got lunch while Julie got breakfast.

Bonus points go to Andy Pepper’s for the creative names for the sandwiches (the Joanie loves Srirachi is easily the most clever). My healthful flatbread was aptly named the Thin Lizzy.

andy-pepper-s-thin-lizzy

The Thin Lizzy features baby spinach, provolone, tomatoes, pesto and guacamole on a grilled flatbread. I’m not normally one for meatless meals, but I absolutely loved this sandwich.

It was simple, but the spinach and tomatoes were bright and fresh. The provolone was sliced thin so it had a nice sharp bite without being overpowering. The pesto was flavorful, and the guacamole was piled on so that delicious avocado and cilantro flavor was in every bite.

andy-pepper-s-potato-chips

On the side, I ordered warm, seasoned potato chips. The bag behind the counter said they were from the Billy Goat Chip Company in St. Louis, one of the few things at Andy Pepper’s that wasn’t homemade.

They were good chips, but warming them made them even better. It was a light seasoning (onion, garlic, spices and sugar, according to the company website), but it added a unique flavor that I really enjoyed.

andy-pepper-s-lemon-poppy-pancake-and-bacon

Julie went with breakfast for lunch, unable to resist one of the seasonal pancake flavors: lemon poppy seed.

We were warned that the pancakes usually come in orders of two, plate-sized pancakes so she just had a half order, and it was plenty. It was as big as advertised, and really soaked up the syrup. The citrusy flavor of the lemon gave the hearty pancake a light, summery flavor.

And what breakfast would be complete without bacon? Julie asked for a side of it and received four crispy, delicious slices on top of her pancake.

andy-pepper-s-zucchini-cornbread

In addition to our meals, we grabbed a couple slices of locally baked zucchini cornbread and a homemade blueberry sage jam. I only got a hint of zucchini, but the cornbread was more moist than most. The jam was amazing. It was very sweet, and it didn’t take much of it to get a lot of flavor.

That brought our total bill up to about $25. It was a little higher than we like to pay for lunch, but worth every penny.

Everything we had was either homemade or made with the freshest ingredients, and that makes all of the difference.

We enjoyed everything that we had on our visit and look forward to going back again for another meal at the post office.

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

Andy Pepper’s
820 Limekiln Rd
Limekiln, PA 19535

Andy Pepper's Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Breakfast & Brunch Cafes & Coffeeshops Lunch & Dinner Reviews

Chatty’s

chatty-s-1

In today’s world, it is very rare for any business, especially a restaurant, to not have a website. At the very least, one would expect a popular restaurant to at least have a Facebook page.

Sometimes I have been frustrated when I try to look up a restaurant only to find nothing but an automatically generated Google+ page.

One restaurant where I ran into this is Chatty’s, a breakfast and lunch spot that continually shows up at or near the top of review sites, but which has no web presence of its own.

Not wanting to miss out on a place that had received so many four- and five-star ratings, I decided to make a trip and accept whatever surprises awaited.

Chatty’s is the centerpiece of the Shoppes at Woodside strip mall along Pricetown Road. It’s a place I had passed by many times on my way to and from the old Muddy’s BBQ location.

On the outside, there is not much to distinguish Chatty’s from the custom kitchen store next door. Inside, the restaurant exudes a more vibrant atmosphere than the exterior lets on. The two long side walls are covered in bright murals, with unique art work, including a three-dimensional painting of a horse and a Rajah Shriner clown. The seating areas, including the counter, have a faux diner look, with the painted black and silver as if it were stainless steel.

The sign inside the door invited us to seat ourselves so we sat down at a table for two in the back corner and perused  the single-page menus that sat on the table.

Saturday and Sunday, Chatty’s serves breakfast only, serving from 7 to 11:45 a.m. That means it’s all breakfast: French toast, pancakes and omelets make up the bulk of the menu.

The day’s specials were listed out on a dry erase board at the entrance, and that was as far as I had to look for my choice: cranberry walnut pancakes.

chatty-s-cranberry-walnut-pancakes

I normally gravitate toward French toast when I dine out for breakfast, but cranberry and walnut are two words that will always get my attention. My waitress warned me that because they were the daily special, the pancakes were only a stack of two. One would have been sufficient. Though not the largest I have ever seen, these were big enough: thick and fluffy, and as big as the plate. The walnuts added a crunchy texture that you normally don’t get in pancakes, while the cranberry provided a different kind of sweetness than syrup alone could provide. After spreading a pad of melted butter on top, my plate achieved pancake perfection.

chatty-s-corned-beef-hash

Not knowing how much food I was going to get with “just” an order of pancakes, I also committed to a side of corned beef hash. Though it was a little salty (then again, I think that’s a requirement), it was tasty enough that I cleaned the plate.

chatty-s-smoked-sausage-omelet

Once she took her first look at the menu, Julie had her heart set on an omelet, opting for a smoked sausage omelet with toast. It is safe to say that Chatty’s did not skimp on the sausage.

chatty-s-smoked-sausage-omelet-2

Inside was a full sausage link (think Johnsonville-sized) sliced thick and spread throughout. It wasn’t quite as smokey as she was expecting, but it still made for quite a dish. She obviously still enjoyed it as there were no traces left when she was finished.

The diner vibe continued all the way through from fast service—we were in-and-out in less than 45 minutes—to the prices. For all of our food, plus a glass of orange juice for me, our total came in at under $15.

We went in to Chatty’s knowing almost nothing about it, ready for whatever experience was waiting for us. Sometimes a little surprise is a good thing.

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

Chatty’s
3130 Pricetown Rd
Fleetwood, PA 19522

Chatty's on Urbanspoon

Breakfast & Brunch Diners Reviews

The Tomcat Cafe

Tom-Cat-Cafe-Sinking-Spring

Breakfast is probably my favorite meal of the day. There’s something special about sitting down to a homecooked breakfast of french toast or pancakes, homefries or corned beef hash. Top it off with a big glass of orange juice and you have the perfect start to the day.

There’s plenty of places in Berks County to get a good hot breakfast. Let’s face it, it’s hard to screw up french toast.

By the same token, it’s hard to find a place to eat a memorable breakfast. Pancakes and eggs are essentially the same from one place to another.

That’s why The Tomcat Cafe is so special.

Located right on Penn Avenue (Route 422) in Sinking Spring, The Tomcat Cafe does breakfast better than anyone else because that’s all they do. The restaurant discontinued their lunch options in early 2013 to concentrate on making some of the best pancakes, omelets, crepes and more.

Blues rock pumps through the speakers. Leonard Cohen’s “Old Ideas” record hangs prominantly on the wall. An Elvis Presely cat stares down from above the door.

Even the menu, with specials like the Rhiannon, Hey Joe and Don McLean, is as diverse as the decor. And man is the menu is expansive.

There are are 56 different topping combinations for pancakes alone, allowing you be as adventurous as you choose. Enjoy a simple order of pancakes with blueberry topping, or try something a little different, like the Paradise City: fried eggs and Gouda sandwiched between bacon cheeseburger pancakes.

Dazed-And-Confused-Tom-Cat-Cafe

I opted for the Dazed and Confused: two thick slices of French toast dipped in Fruity Pebbles and topped with strawberries, bananas, strawberry syrup and whipped cream.

If you want to satisfy your sweet tooth at breakfast, this is the way to go. The Fruity Pebbles made the French toast that much sweeter, while the fresh fruit on top tricked me into thinking that there was some redeeming value in the sugary shortstack in front of me.

Peanut-Butter-Pancakes-Tom-Cat-Cafe

My wife decided on one of the unique pancake offerings. The No. 27 comes complete with bananas, peanut butter, chocolate chips and mini marshmallows. If the ghost of Elvis walked through the door, I’m pretty sure this is what he would order, and he would not be disappointed.

Of course no breakfast is complete without an order of homefries. For the extra dollar, I added grilled onions and peppers to my order. What I got was a small mountain.

Home-Fries-Tom-Cat-Cafe

The homefries could stand on their own, but the peppers and onions were worth every penny. They were sauteed perfect, soft enough to slide right down while adding a hit of extra flavor to the meal. It was the perfect counterbalance to the sweetness of the main course and are easily sharable between two or more people.

Many area restaurants try to make up for the lack of flavor in their foods, especially at breakfast, by giving giant portions. Tomcat is just giving you more of what you actually want, a unique breakfast you can’t get anywhere else, all for around $10.00.

A trip to Tomcat takes a little bit of planning. The Cafe is open limited hours, 8:00 a.m. to 2:00 p.m. Wednesday through Friday and 8:00 a.m. to 1:00 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. But for breakfast, lunch or brunch, it’s well worth the trip.

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

The TomCat Cafe
3998 Penn Ave
Sinking Spring, PA 19608

The Tomcat Cafe on Urbanspoon

Breakfast & Brunch Reviews