Four Twelve's Southern Comfort Pecan Waffle

Four Twelve

Four Twelve Exterior

Through this blog, I have been able to explore all corners of Berks County and beyond. It’s hard to spread the love around the county when there are so many deserving restaurants that I haven’t tried yet.

One area of the county that I’ve been fortunate to explore more recently is Hamburg. We’ve done blogs in the past at their two great barbecue joints – Backwoods Brothers and Smokin’ Brays – and we’ve visited the long-established Westy.

A month ago, we were in Hamburg for a very impressive dinner at the 1787 Brewing Company. Then on a recent Saturday morning we were back again, almost across the street at Four Twelve.

The coffee shop is located at 12 South Fourth Street (turn it around and you get Four Twelve) in the heart of Hamburg’s downtown business district.

Four Twelve Front Counter

We arrived around 8 a.m. on Saturday morning, much later than our usual breakfast time so we were very hungry by the time we walked through the door. While standing in line I noticed the sign for Passenger Coffee, the Lancaster County brand that was named best coffee in Pennsylvania by Food & Wine.I don’t drink coffee, but that seems like a pretty good endorsement.

Four Twelve Dining Room

The space feels very utilitarian – cold, in a way – with white walls and black accents. Floral centerpieces on the wood tables added a little color to an otherwise stark space. The exception to the rule was the community room, a small space in the back with an exposed brick wall that could be closed off for private functions.

Looking Out the Front Window of Four Twelve

Shortly after placing our order at the counter, a 20-man running group entered the shop pushing the line to the door. As their conversations picked up, the room began to echo. The runners placed their orders one-by-one and as they took their seats around the room the spacious coffee shop felt much smaller.

We were definitely fortunate to arrive in front of them.

Four Twelve Chai Latte

Though neither of us drink coffee, both Julie and I enjoy a good chai tea latte. They arrived to our table before our meals in large, well-used mugs. The chais were done beautifully, well spiced with plenty of whipped cream on top (Jakob especially enjoyed the whipped cream).

It was several more minutes before our food arrived. Four Twelve is known for their waffles and waffle sandwiches and we had ordered a variety to try.

Four Twelve's Southern Comfort Pecan Waffle

My choice was the “Southern Pecan Comfort,” a large bacon-infused Belgian waffle topped with pecans, bananas and whipped cream and served with maple syrup.

Four Twelve Southern Pecan Comfort Waffle

It was a beautiful sight to behold and it tasted as good as it looked. The waffle was cooked to order on one of two waffle irons and it was loaded with plenty of the good stuff, as advertised. Pieces of bacon were cooked directly into the waffle offering surprises in many bites while the bananas and whipped cream created a sweet and savory balance that I really enjoyed. The pecans were a great addition, too, adding a nutty crunch to the soft foods on the plate.

Four Twelve Pear Thyme Waffle Sandwich

Julie opted for the “pear thyme” waffle sandwich. It was topped with sliced pears, gouda cheese, honey and thyme. Combined with what were mostly sweet toppings, the thyme really shone through, giving the sandwich an earthy depth of flavor. It was a very good and very hearty sandwich.

Four Twelve Cinnamon Waffle Dippers

For Jakob, our 16-month-old, we went with a simpler dish: cinnamon waffle sticks with cream cheese icing for dipping. It was a special for the day and it was perfect for him. Though some of the outer edges were a little too dark for him, he loved both the icing and the waffles.

We enjoyed them, too, having to finish the order between us so as not to waste the sweet dippers. The waffles had a good amount of cinnamon and were delicious with the sweet cream on the side.

Four Twelve Front Window

All three of our breakfast orders were delicious and left us very full (Julie and I both skipped lunch. Jakob is a growing boy and was ready to eat again by the time we got home). And while it felt like we had been there all morning, it had only been an hour – our hunger upon arrival made it feel a lot longer.

Our total bill was $28. But with two chais at $4 apiece, a little less than $20 for three breakfasts seems like a more than fair price, especially with as full as we were when we were finished.

By the time we left, the runners had all been served and a steady stream of customers were flowing through the front door. There is no question that Four Twelve is a popular gathering place for coffee drinkers and guests hungry for a hearty breakfast.

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

Four Twelve
12 S. Fourth St
Hamburg, PA 19526

Breakfast & Brunch Cafes & Coffeeshops Reviews

Road Trip: Leiby’s Ice Cream House & Restaurant

Berks County Eats crosses the county line for a visit to Leiby’s Ice Cream House & Restaurant in Tamaqua, Schuylkill County, about 35 miles north of Reading.

Leiby’s is a familiar name around Berks County, even if you didn’t know the family had a restaurant.

The namesake ice cream can found at many of the area’s favorite cool-down spots, including Scoupe DeVille in Birdsboro.

But in Schuylkill County, Leiby’s was also synonymous with homestyle cooking, at least until the restaurant closed in 2007.

After a decade away, the Leiby family decided it was time to reopen, and the hotspot at the corner of Routes 443 and 309 sprang back to life in May 2017.

Officially known as Leiby’s Ice Cream House and Restaurant, the building is familiar to all those who drive past. Just as familiar is the sign on the corner, complete with an analog clock – or is a thermometer – that never actually displays any information.

The restaurant has two entrances, one for ice cream only and one for the dining room. Our hostess was nice but she really wasn’t much help with our questions as we waited a long time to be served. In the large dining room, waitresses were serving customers and busing tables. There was a decent crowd in the dining room for a Sunday afternoon, but certainly not large enough to have been slowing everyone down this much.

Leiby’s menu is very much influenced by diners – simple meals like meatloaf, roast beef, turkey, and spaghetti and meatballs made up the majority of the dinner menu (there were also sandwiches, burgers and a few appetizers).

It’s a relatively reasonably priced menu with dinners priced around $10. But apparently they make up for it in upcharges. Replacing one of my sides with a trip to salad bar cost an extra $5.50.

Don’t get me wrong, it was a nice little salad bar. The emphasis is on “little” as it certainly was not worth the upcharge. It had your standard lettuce and all the toppings with six squirt bottles full of dressing. But there was nothing that made it stand out.

But not wanting to add another real side, I was left with little options.

For my meal, I had gone very traditional, ordering the roast turkey with mashed potatoes. It was also served with cranberry sauce and was topped with gravy.

The turkey was okay but I was hoping for better. There wasn’t a lot of flavor to the thin slices of meat, and the gravy did little more than to make it wet. The cranberry sauce came in the tiniest little cup on the side. Honestly, I almost forgot to eat it because I didn’t see it sitting on the table.

The best thing on my plate was the mashed potatoes. They were very good, as I would expect from a good diner. They had a nice yellow color, always a good sign, and were well-seasoned. In my teenage years, I would have doubled up on the potatoes instead of getting a salad. I almost wished I had done that on this trip.

Julie’s open-face roast beef sandwich was another fair dish. I didn’t care for the bread that it was served on, but I liked the beef a little better than my turkey. I think she and I were both looking for more of a pot roast-style dish.

And her side of corn was fresh from the can.

On the bright side, Leiby’s serves Leiby’s ice cream so we had that to look forward throughout the meal. And the ice cream did not disappoint.

I had a waffle sundae with vanilla fudge ice cream, topped with hot fudge and whipped cream. The warm Belgian waffle and hot fudge melted the ice cream just enough to make it soft. The waffle itself was delicious and the ice cream was sweet, creamy and perfect.

And it cost less than my salad.

Julie had a more traditional dusty road sundae (her new favorite) with Tandy Kake ice cream (also her new favorite).

Dessert redeemed the meal, for the most part. But it couldn’t overcome the poor service we received.

Julie, Jakob and I were joined by her family. And while Julie and her mom both ordered lettuce with hot bacon dressing as sides, only Julie’s was delivered as an appetizer. And flagging down our waitress wasn’t easy as we went 10 minutes at a time without seeing her.

Worse yet, at the end of the meal when we asked for our bills to be split, I was given our half (about $38) but unknowingly my in-laws were given, and charged for, both of our meals. (Payments are made at a cash register near the exit). So we had to call a manager to do a refund. Then they had to enter each of the meals individually, but they didn’t even get that right. Eventually we each paid our fair share.

I expect this kind of service from a place that’s been open six weeks, not one that has been open for 16 months.

Needless to say, we won’t be making any Sunday drives to Leiby’s again any time soon.

BCE Rating:

Food: Fair
Service: Poor
Ambiance: Good
Value: Reasonable

Leiby’s Ice Cream House & Restaurant
848 W. Penn Pk
Tamaqua, PA 18252

Dessert Lunch & Dinner Reviews
Boursin fried chicken from Franklin House Tavern

Road Trip: Franklin House Tavern

Franklin House Tavern in Schaefferstown, PA

Berks County Eats takes a road trip to Lebanon County this week for a meal at the historic Franklin House Tavern in Schaefferstown.

It’s been a long time since we took a road trip for Berks County Eats. Our last stop outside the county was in July of last year, eight months ago when we visited the Revere Tavern in Lancaster.

Ironically enough, our next road trip takes us to another historic inn named after a famous figure from the past: the Franklin House Tavern in Schaefferstown.

I have a vague childhood memory of a family meal at the Franklin House. It had to have been 20 years ago when my grandparents still lived on a farm outside of Schaefferstown.

Franklin House Tavern in Schaefferstown, PA

In the years since, Julie and I have driven by the restaurant countless times. But it was never our destination. But the more we drove through Schaefferstown, the more we wanted to stop.

Our first visit finally happened in late February. We dropped Jakob off at my parents and continued on to the Lebanon County landmark for a Saturday evening dinner.

The historic inn is essentially divided into two sides – the restaurant and the tavern. We were on the restaurant side, the more refined, finer dining experience.

The Washington Room

We were led back into the Washington Room, a small-ish dining space with our table for two, three tables for four, a table for six, and a table for 10. In buildings this old – it was erected in 1746 – rooms are small and seating can be tight. But we were comfortable at our little table in the corner of the room.

Inside the Washington Room at the Franklin House Tavern

During our meal, there were only two other tables occupied in our dining room, but we saw at least five different servers and runners coming through. Our waitress was the second person we saw, after another waiter in the room breezed by after taking another order. “Be there in a sec,” was the gist of what he said. Thankfully, he wasn’t our server.

House Salad at the Franklin House TavernThe meal started with salads. I stuck with the house salad with ranch dressing while Julie upgraded to the Caesar.

The presentation on both was beautiful, and the house salad included one nice addition: fresh Parmesan cheese. It was a subtle enhancement.

Caesar salad from the Franklin House Tavern

Julie’s Caesar salad shined thanks to attention to detail. The lettuce was grilled, bringing out more flavor and making it feel special. A small crostini was served on the side and it was better than any crouton that would have been served on top. It was worth the $3.25 upgrade charge.

Dinner roll and oil from Franklin House Tavern

Between our salad and meal, we were served a pair of dinner rolls. Set on the table was an oil and balsamic blend for dipping. Oil is great. Balsamic is not. To me, it was an attempt to be too fancy. The rolls would have been better served with butter.

Next out were our entrees. For me, it was the “Jacked Mac.” The menu listed it as “cavatappi pasta, Parmesan cream, house smoked sweet Italian sausage, roasted cauliflower, rum raisins and sweet peas.”

The Jacked Mac from the Franklin House Tavern

I found it to be a mixed bag. On the one hand, I loved the additions to the dish – the sausage was very good, and the rum raisins provided sweet little flavor bursts.

On the other hand, I was really hoping for more of a cream sauce and less of a traditional mac-and-cheese. The Parmesan cream didn’t jump out. On the contrary, I didn’t taste much Parmesan. And I felt like my meal had been completed before Julie’s and was sitting for a few minutes. Not that it was cold, but I could tell that the cheese had cooled slightly.

Overall, it was still a good dish but it could have been great. Like the Boursin fried chicken. That was Julie’s meal, and it was a great dish.

Boursin fried chicken from Franklin House Tavern

The Boursin fried chicken was on the specials menu, and there wasn’t much description of it, other than that it would be served atop a waffle with prosciutto and a honey drizzle.

It was a beautiful presentation with a lightly breaded chicken breast topped with the cheese and a slice of prosciutto. The only thing better than how it looked was how it tasted.

Boursin cheese, as we would come to find out, most closely resembles cream cheese. It essentially took the place of a sauce, giving a sweet, creamy flavor that was in every bite. The prosciutto added another savory element while also giving salty notes to the dish. Even the waffle added additional depth to the dish.

I was in love Julie’s entree, and I definitely had food envy.

We weren’t celebrating a special occasion, but we decided to make it special by adding dessert. Of the four choices on the dessert tray, the one that appealed most was the lemon berry cake.

Lemon berry cake from Franklin House Tavern

The cake was layered with Mascarpone cheese and topped with raspberries and blueberries and a concentrated raspberry sauce. The cake reminded me of a lemon cream cookie, but the addition of the berries put it over the top. It was definitely worth saving room for this.

Even with dessert our night out didn’t break the bank. Our total bill was $55. While it’s a little more than we pay for everyday dining, I was expecting $60 or more for our meals. And we would probably spend that on our next visit because our entrees were at the low end of the price scale.

It wasn’t a perfect night, but the Franklin House Tavern really did impress in many ways. We enjoyed some exceptional dishes in an incredible historic setting.

And now I have another memory from the Franklin House that I’ll remember for a long time.

BCE Rating
Food: Very Good
Service: Good
Ambiance: Very Good
Price: Reasonable (for finer dining)

Franklin House Tavern
101 N. Market St
Schaefferstown, PA 17088

Franklin House Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Dessert Finer Dining Lunch & Dinner Reviews

Williams Family Restaurant at the Fairgrounds Farmers Market

williams-family-restaurant-exterior

There is no denying that the Fairgrounds Farmers Market has some great places to eat.

More than a dozen stands offer some kind of hot food service along with the many fresh produce and meat stands throughout.

Among all of the vendors, Williams Family Restaurant stands out.

Let’s be clear: William’s Family Restaurant is not a farmers market stand. It’s a diner that just happens to be in a farmers market.

williams-family-restaurant-interior

The restaurant has about 20 tables and a small lunch counter (almost as many seats as the rest of the market combined), all of which were full when we arrived a little before 9 a.m. There was one other couple in line in front of us, but it didn’t take long for a booth to open up.

In a room that was obviously filled with “regulars,” we were probably among the few people that our waittress didn’t know by name. Still, she was very attentive, and we never felt out of place.

Like all good diners, things happen quick at William’s. Only a little more than 10 minutes after we sat down, our breakfast was on the table.

williams-familiy-restaurant-stuffed-french-toast

I love sweets at breakfast. That’s why I ordered the stuffed French toast with strawberries.

Two thick slices of toast were sitting on my plate. They had been lined up so perfectly that I wasn’t sure whether they were actually stuffed until I slid the top layer off to reveal the bright red strawberry filling.

williams-family-restaurant-stuffed-french-toast-2

It was everything I was hoping for. Every bite was filled with strawberry and cream cheese for the sweetness I craved. And the two slices of French toast were done perfectly.

I had a more savory side with my corned beef hash. It didn’t look nearly as appetizing as the French toast (hash rarely does), but it was diner food at its best.

williams-family-restaurant-corned-beef-hash

It was a little greasy and nicely crisp from the grill. The meat was ground finer than some places, which made it look wetter. In reality, it just let the meat seep into every bite.

Julie also went sweet with her red, white and blue waffle.

williams-family-restaurant-red-white-and-blue-waffle

Strawberries (red), bananas (white) and blueberries (blue) topped a plate-sized Belgian waffle. The strawberries were in the same gooey syrup as my strawberry filling while the blueberries and bananas were fresh.

The whole thing was dusted with powdered sugar (it didn’t need it). The syrup helped the strawberry get into every nook and cranny so while she didn’t get all three fruits in every bite, she always had at least a little strawberry.

With as fast as they turned the tables over, we had our check as Julie was polishing off the last bites of her waffle.

At $17, it was one of the cheapest meals that we have ever had on a Berks County Eats trip. And we certainly got more than our money’s worth because I didn’t need to eat a lunch after finishing my meal.

By the time we were heading out the door, a large crowd had gathered outside. I’m sure they didn’t have to wait long.

William’s Family Restaurant is definitely not your typical farmers market stand. It’s a real old-fashioned diner with good food, good portions and great prices.

It just happens to be surrounded by a market.

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

Williams Family Restaurant at the Fairgrounds Farmers Market
2934 N. 5th Street Hwy
Reading, PA 19605

Williams Family Restaurant Menu, Reviews, Photos, Location and Info - Zomato

Breakfast & Brunch Diners Farmers Market Meals Reviews