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Valentine’s Day falls on Monday this year. For an early celebration, on Friday night I asked M if he would like to have Saturday breakfast somewhere special. “Do you have a place in mind?” he asked.  I nodded, and showed him the website.  Ten minutes later, he said “Looks like we should get there early.”

Jumbars in Bethlehem, PA

Jumbars had long been on our list of places to visit, recommended by more than one reader of BITV.  The café was established in 2003 by Chef Paul Hoffert and his wife, Mary. The café’s name and many of its recipes, originate from Mary’s great-grandmother, Anna Jumbar.

Around 8:20 am, we walked into Jumbars and took a table against the south wall.  The café is small, seating roughly 30 to 40 people.  Floral tablecloths, local paintings, and vases of fresh cut boxwood all contribute to a cozy charm. At the front is a walk-up counter that displays some of their delectable homemade pastries and breads.

Our waitress brought us menus, followed by coffee and tall glasses of water.  Although we’d already had a sneak preview of the menu on Jumbars’ website, we took our time perusing the many offerings. Assorted omelettes, and homemade breads caught our eye.  M chose a New England Omelette with a homemade English Muffin.  I chose a Garden Omelette.

As we waited for our food we chatted quietly about the past week and the spring to come, in the way of old married folk.  Around us singles read, while friends and other couples talked. At the table behind us, grandparents had their two-year old grandson for a Saturday morning outing.  The well-mannered boy thoroughly enjoyed his whole wheat waffle with Nutella and bananas.

Sausage & Apple filled New England Omelette with homemade English Muffin

Our breakfast soon arrived.  “The jams are on the sideboard,” said the waitress.  We each made a trip up front to choose from assorted jam pots of homemade preserves.  Also on the sideboard was a huge selection of teas.

M chose the New England Omelette, three eggs filled with maple sage pork sausage, thin slices of Granny Smith apple slices, and cheddar cheese.  His order surprised me.  He  normally stays away from omelettes because of their dryness but he said he liked the description and was willing to chance it.  “Moist and delicious,” he said.  “Fantastic!”

My own Garden Omelette was among the best ever.  The inside was moist and stuffed with small cut pieces of broccoli and tomatoes, and the perfect complement of cheddar cheese.

Broccoli & Tomato Garden Omelette

The omelette came with one piece of whole wheat toast, cut in two, but that’s all I needed.  It was hearty and filling, easily the equivalent of two pieces of store-bought.  With a few dabs of homemade blueberry jam, it was perfect!

Throughout our meal in this most pleasant café, our coffee cups were kept filled with fresh ground Dean’s Beans organic coffee.  Rich and superb! As we finished, more people arrived. I was glad we’d arrived early.

Our bill for a New England Omelette with breakfast potatoes and a homemade English muffin, and a Garden Omelette with breakfast potatoes and a thick slice of wheat toast, and two cups of coffee came to just under $20 (plus tip).

Of all the restaurants we have visited for breakfast over the years, we both agree that Jumbars is by far, among the best for food quality, preparation, atmosphere, friendliness, and service! Congratulations to the Hofferts for creating a true gem in Bethlehem.

Jumbars is located at 1342 Chelsea Avenue in Bethlehem.  610-866-1660. The café is open for breakfast and lunch, Tuesday through Friday, 8 am to 3 pm, and Saturday and Sunday, 8 am to 2 pm.

Sara

Jumbars on Urbanspoon

Jumbars on Restaurantica

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The Christmas season arrives faster each year. Since M. had some other matters to see to today and since I still had a lot of holiday shopping to do, I decided to set out alone this Saturday morning.  I left home early.  That way, I’d have time to stop for a quick breakfast at the Bethlehem Diner before the stores opened.  The diner is central in the Lehigh Valley, a convenient spot no matter which direction a person is traveling.

As I walked in the front door, I was greeted by a glass dessert case filled with assorted delectable pastries.   I took a single longing glance then asked the cashier for a booth next to a window.  In a friendly voice, she said to choose one.  Simple red and green garlands of tinsel looped through the restaurant adding a festive touch to the rooms.  Sunlight streamed through the large windows.  Around me several couples talked quietly, enjoying their morning meals together.

A tallish dark-haired waitress brought me a menu and soon returned with my requested coffee and glass of water.  The menu features standard breakfast fare — egg dishes, omelets, French Toast, pancakes, and a few specialities.   Since I planned to shop much of the day, I wanted something wholesome, a food that would stay with me.   I chose a favorite, heart-healthy oatmeal and toast.

While I waited for my food, I took out my Kodak and scrolled through some pictures.   For Christmas, I plan to use some of them in creative ways for a few special people.   Last night I had reviewed the website for Dan’s Camera City.  Dan’s has many such items — photo mugs, personalized calendars, photos artistically reproduced on canvas, and even cutting boards with photos printed onto them.  I pulled some note paper from my purse and began jotting down ideas.  After breakfast, I would drive to Dan’s.  Other scheduled stops included The Christmas Tree Shop, Best Buy, and a few other assorted stores.  A full day of shopping waited!

My oatmeal arrived quickly and was followed by the toast a minute or two later.  The oatmeal was thick, tasty and definitely homemade.  The toast was made with fresh wheat bread, and still hot from the toaster.  Spread thinly with blackberry jam it, too, was delicious.  During my meal the waitress kept my cup filled with fresh black coffee.

The total amount of my bill was under $5.00 (excluding tip) for a large bowl of oatmeal, an order of wheat toast, and plenty of coffee.  Reasonable.   Overall the atmosphere in the Bethlehem Diner was pleasant, tables were cleared quickly and efficiently, and the service was friendly.   A good place to stop for a bite to eat when you’re out shopping, after a movie, or anytime.  I plan to return.

Bethlehem Diner is located at 1881 Catasauqua Road, Allentown, PA 18109.  It’s just south of ABE Airport and Highway 22, on the east side of Airport Road.   (610) 266-9235.

Sara

Bethlehem Diner on Urbanspoon

Last year, a few months after I started this blog, our son recommended we compare four diners along Union Boulevard, east of Airport Road.  Some call the area “diner row.”  In January 2009 we visited his first recommendation, the Golden Gate Diner at 1318 Union Boulevard.  In June we ate breakfast at the Top Diner at 1019 and, in mid-August, we ate at Izzy’s Family Restaurant, at 920.  Somehow it seemed fitting to end the year at the newest of the four, the Union Diner & Family Restaurant, located at 2302 Union Boulevard.

The Union Diner opened about two years ago.  I read that the building had previously operated as a Pizza Hut; the signature windows are still intact.  The interior, however, was fully remodeled with new tiled floors and booths.  On this snowy morn, the diner was nearly empty.  My son and I were offered our choice of seating.  We chose a booth along the front wall.

A smiling waitress brought menus that included a large list of the usual diner breakfast options.  She soon returned with our coffee and tall glasses of iced water with straws.  We placed our orders for one of the breakfast specials – eggs, homefries, bacon.  One advantage of eating out on a weekday, other than choice of seating, is the prices on the specials.

We sipped steaming hot coffee, chatted, and looked around.  The dining room, still with that new feel, appeared sparse, almost barren;  only a few red ribbons still celebrated the holiday.  A sign above the dessert case near the front announced “Under New Management.”  After only two years?  As I mulled it over, through the west window I saw two men across the street pushing snowblowers.  They seemed in rhythm as they came together then parted along their separate paths.

Our food was delivered promptly and with another smile. I was disappointed to learn there was no strawberry jam for my toast.  The cordial waitress said they only offer grape and mixed fruit jellies.  Both my son and I found the scrambled eggs to be the tastiest part of the meal, moist and fresh.  The home fries were golden crisp and not too greasy.  Bacon was tasty.  The coffee wasn’t quite as strong as I like it, but our watchful server kept our cups filled.

The total cost of the meal was just under $7 (plus tip) for the two of us. A real bargain for two orders of scrambled eggs (2), homefries, 3 slices of bacon, whole wheat toast and coffee.  As mentioned, an advantage of eating out on a weekday morning. I have to wonder if an added 50 cents would have provided the strawberry jam most diners offer. No matter.

I’m told there will soon be new menus and a new name for the Union Diner.   Members of the same family that now own the increasingly popular West Side Diner at 19th and Tilghman will rename this one the East Side Diner.  It will be interesting to see what other changes might be in store.

At the start, I mentioned the four diners along Union Boulevard.  All four diners served good, tasty breakfasts.  Service at all was great, with the Golden Gate and the Top Diner leading the way for friendly, attentive service.  Izzy’s and the Golden Gate carried the day for the strongest, old time diner charm and atmosphere.   Izzy’s coffee was tops, strong and robust, with coffee at the Golden Gate a close second.  My opinions only.  Please comment with your thoughts.

Wishing you all a happy and prosperous 2010!

Sara

On this pleasant Sunday morning, my husband and I visited the Top Diner in Allentown for breakfast.  Our son, a diner devotee,breakfast 207 recommended we try it.  “It’s reasonably priced,” he said.  “Great service!”  As always, his assessment was accurate.

We arrived late morning.  The diner was crowded but we were quickly shown to a vacant window booth.  Immediately I noticed the well-installed translucent window shades that blocked the bright sun, yet still allowed light and a sense of view.  In fact, decor throughout the restaurant appeared fresh and tasteful.  Our son later told us they’d redecorated a year or two ago.

An efficient young waitress delivered our requested coffee and glasses of water then gave us time to look over the menu – a nice offering of breakfast entrees and sides.  My attention was drawn to the French Toast.  Top Diner outsideInteresting that they offer both thin and thick French Toast (for a few pennies more).  M. ordered his favorite, Eggs Benedict.

Once we ordered, we turned to the morning newspaper.  An article titled School Districts Going Cyber caught my eye.  This fall, East Penn and Parkland School Districts will join forces to implement a cyber school pilot program in the hope of preventing students from leaving public schools to attend cyber charter schools.  I wondered – why are they leaving?  Is education better in a cyber charter school?  Unless schools implement a program that addresses better quality, will the program succeed?  And, at what cost to the taxpayers?

Our meals arrived.  I’d ordered a short stack of thick French Toast with maple syrup and three slices of crisp bacon. Top Diner meal Quite tasty, and the perfect amount.  M.’s Eggs Benedict were well prepared with nicely poached eggs, and a good quality Hollandaise sauce.  The lone drawback, quite minor, was that his home fries were more buttery and less crisp than he likes.  Otherwise our meals, and the atmosphere, were fine in every way.

Service was outstanding!  Our smiling waitress returned often to discreetly check on our needs and those of the surrounding booths.  At one point, a bus boy came around with the coffee pot.  We found the entire staff very friendly.

Our total bill with tax came to just over $14 (less tip) for 2 slices of thick French Toast, 3 slices of bacon, Eggs Benedict, an extra order of wheat toast, and two cups of coffee with abundant refills.  As our son said, “reasonable.”  I recommend you try the Top Diner soon for a satisfying breakfast in a pleasant environment.

The Top Diner is located at 1019 Union Blvd., Allentown, PA, just east of Airport Road.  610-432-9821.

Sara

Top Diner on Urbanspoon

“How do you choose a diner to review?” a friend asked.   westgate-diner2Answering took a few minutes.  Sometimes it’s geography, based on a morning’s errands.  Or we might pull a name from others’ suggestions.   On occasion, it’s pure happenstance.  That’s how we ended up at the Westgate Diner this morning.  We just sort of happened upon it.  A happy surprise.

Westgate Diner sits in a southwestern styled building at the angled corner of Schoenersville and breakfast-1631Catasauqua Roads in Bethlehem, catty-corner from the Westgate Mall.  Not a huge parking lot, but adequate for the seating inside.  The southwest theme is carried into the dining room in color and style.

On walking in, we were met with a warm smile and promptly seated at a booth under a rounded window adorned with tied-back curtains.  A dozen or so customers were chatting and enjoying their meals.  Our genial waitress handed us menus and took our requests for coffee and water.

The two-page menu held the usual breakfast assortment – egg dishes including omelets, pancakes, French Toast, and various sides.  No sausage links we learned, only patties which was fine with me.  M. ordered one of his favorites – steak and eggs.

As we sipped our coffee (superbly brewed!) and browsed through the morning news, more folks arrived.  Gatherings of families and friends, couples, and obvious old-time regulars.  breakfast-1593Soon our food arrived on heated plates.   Almost immediately, we knew we’d found a jewel.

M.’s steak was a good-size breakfast steak, medium rare as ordered, with two large poached eggs on top, perfectly cooked and steaming.  His steak was tender and tasty.  Both of us were awed over the homefries, fresh, hot, and deep golden brown.  My scrambled eggs were moist and filled with flavor, and the large sausage patty nicely cooked.   When our waitress arrived to refill our coffee, we offered our compliments to the cook, something we don’t often do.  “He is good,” she said, smiling.  I added, “One of the best we’ve found,” (and meant it!).

Our total bill came to $18 (plus tip) for steak, two eggs, homefries, and wheat toast for M. and two scrambled eggs, homefries, sausage patty, and wheat toast for me, plus our two coffees with refills.

What is it that sets one diner apart?  The service?  Atmosphere?  Food?  Whatever it might be, we’re pleased to have found it this morning at the Westgate Diner.  I hope you’ll visit this hidden gem among the Valley’s diners.

The Westgate Diner is located at 1267 Birchwood Drive, Bethlehem, PA.  610-865-5562.  They are open 7 days a week from 6:30 am to 9:00 pm.

Sara

West Gate Diner on Urbanspoon

This morning for breakfast I made some oatmeal, wheat toast, orange juice, and hot coffee. Then I sat down at the kitchen table and opened the morning news. Paul Carpenter’s column, Honors Student is Dishonored by Corrupt Rule in Bethlehem first made my stomach churn. Then I got mad.

Breakfast in the Valley was never intended to be political. Enjoying breakfast as I do, I meant it as a way to share that enjoyment with others. But as much as I love savoring breakfast with loved ones, I also hate injustice. Injustice due to raw greed and corruption is even worse. That’s what seems to have happened here. It’s why I’m speaking up.

I’ve always supported community service. It’s a good thing – to give back. But not when it becomes mandatory for earning a high school diploma. Graduation from high school is about academics, not about providing free labor for some school administrator’s brother-in-law.

Click the link above and read the article. Tell me what you think.

Sara

breakfast-2-rvThe Golden View Diner seemed the perfect name for a diner this morning. As we drove through the countryside, nature blazed with vibrant fall colors – greens, reds, oranges, rich browns, and brilliant golds. The sky was clear and the temperature comfortable, a cool 63 degrees with whispers of a soft breeze. A jacket was nice, but not necessary. Not yet thinking of winter’s cold fury, we basked in the beauty of a Pennsylvania autumn.

It had been a while since we’d last visited the Golden View. The diner sits a mile or so north of Highway 22, almost at the intersection Highway 512 and Hanoverville Road. Since our last visit a large CVS Pharmacy and a Turkey Hill Minit Market had been constructed just north of the restaurant. They’re not yet open, but soon will be. The fields and open spaces of the Lehigh Valley are changing, filling in. A few more conveniences, a little less natural beauty.

On this morning’s visit to the Golden View Diner, my husband and I were greeted by the hostess and shown to a booth in the greenhouse section, a sunny room surrounded by glass. Our smiling waitress soon brought iced water and strong, black coffee. The breakfast menu had much to offer, including some interesting seafood selections featuring crab. I almost ordered an asparagus and cheese omelet, but decided instead on one of my favorites – Raisin French Toast.

The restaurant was busy, not quite full but the waitresses and the rest of the staff were bustling. As we waited for our food, we talked and scanned sections of the newspaper, including some political cartoons. A few made me wince. Between the economy and the elections, it seems there’s not much cheerful news these days, although there are always a few rewarding stories. And suddenly our food was there.

I’d ordered a short stack of Raisin French Toast and a side of bacon. Delicious! He ordered poached eggs, home fries, bacon and toast. After a minute or so, he saw that his toast was missing. As soon as we caught our waitress, she rushed into the kitchen and brought out two slices of hot whole wheat toast. Overall our waitress was attentive and cheerful, refilling our coffee as often as wanted. A satisfying, wholesome breakfast with good service in a bright and friendly setting. What more can one ask?

Our bill came to just under $11 (plus tip) for a short stack of Raisin French Toast with bacon, and two eggs, home fries, bacon, and toast, and two black coffees. Reasonable.

The Golden View Diner & Family Restaurant is located at 5090 Bath Pike (Highway 512) in Bethlehem, PA. Stop by for a tasty meal, and let me know how you like it.

Sara

Golden View Diner on Urbanspoon

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A thought

“When you wake up in the morning, Pooh," said Piglet at last, "what's the first thing you say to yourself?" ........... "What's for breakfast?" said Pooh. "What do you say, Piglet?" ...... "I say, I wonder what's going to happen exciting today?" said Piglet. ... Pooh nodded thoughtfully. "It's the same thing," he said.” ...... ― A.A. Milne
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