Some of our breakfasts out just happen.  Others are planned. M. arranged yesterday morning’s trip, but didn’t at first reveal our destination.  He had his reason.  Through the gray drizzles we drove Portland signnortheast, up through Wind Gap, Pen Argyl, and Bangor.   Soon we were driving into Portland.

From the road, the blue, white, and silver siding of the Portland Family Restaurant seemed to sparkle, particularly in the dreary summer rain.  The fact that it was mid-morning and neither of us had yet gulped down any coffee made it doubly welcoming.  As we entered the diner, we could already smell the aroma.  We were greeted by a smiling hostess, and a round dessert case filled with appealing pastries.  We asked for a booth and were escorted into the larger of two rooms where we were seated at the last available window booth.  At a table nearby, a mom and dad with their four sons happily enjoyed pancakes, eggs, and bacon.

Over cups of steaming coffee, we scanned the plastic-covered menus.  Portland Family RestaurantThe Portland Diner has a broad selection of breakfast foods and specials – omelettes, French Toast, pancakes, corned beef hash, Delmonico steak and eggs, and even blintzes.  An item called Holly French Toast caught my eye.  “It’s a thicker French Toast,” said our waitress.  How could I resist?   M. ordered his much favored Eggs Benedict.

As we waited for our food, we chatted idly over the newspaper.  Our anniversary is coming up soon, within a month.   Being married for as many years as we have, there’s a comfort factor in conversation.  We catch each others’ subtleties and hidden quips almost telepathically.  Portland breakfastIt’s scary sometimes.  And yet, amazingly, he can still surprise me.

The pleasant family of six at the table next to us were finishing their meals when our food arrived.  I was awed by the sight of the three huge pieces of Holly French Toast dusted lightly with powdered sugar and surrounded by crispy browned bacon.   After a quick click with my camera, I opened the syrup for dipping.  Light, luscious, and flavorful!  The saltiness of the bacon was a perfect complement.  M.’s Eggs Benedict looked almost too perfect.  The dish proved to be as good as it looked, he said.   Our waitress kept our coffee cups and water glasses filled.  Her friendly smile added to the homey atmosphere.

Our total bill came to less than $14 (plus tip) Duckloe'sfor M’s order of Eggs Benedict, homefries and juice, my Holly French Toast with a side order of bacon, and our two coffees.  Quite reasonable, especially given the excellent quality of the food and service.

We walked out into the steamy August heat, got into our car, and left the parking lot.  M. drove up the street to Duckloe Brothers’ Furniture, his purpose for the trip.  Since we first visited their showroom some twenty years ago, we’ve talked of the exquisite simplicity of their New England Windsor Arm Chairs.  And our anniversary is on the horizon. 🙂

The Portland Family Restaurant is located at 398 Delaware Avenue in Portland, PA.  570-897-5600.  Stop by for an enjoyable meal.  And afterward, wander over to Duckloe’s to see true American craftmanship.

Sara

Portland Family Restaurant on Urbanspoon

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On this bright summer morning, with M. out of town, my son and I went out for breakfast.  He likes diners.  Two ofIzzy's Family Restaurant his local favorites are about a half-mile apart – the Golden Gate Diner (click to read about our January visit) and Izzy’s Family Restaurant.   Today we ate at Izzy’s.

The restaurant was crowded, normal for a weekend.  Although it’s not large, there is ample seating.  Dining room seating is cozy.  A young waitress quickly showed us to an empty booth, handed us menus and asked for our beverage order.  In a few minutes she returned with iced water and coffee, then took our food order.  The menu was varied with the usual egg dishes and several types of omelets, French Toast, and pancakes.

While we waited for our meals, my son and I browsed Baptism Daythrough a few sections of the Express-Times and caught up on family life.   Some of his older cousins are now parents and I showed him recent pictures he hadn’t yet seen of their children.  Seems not all that long ago when the toddler and baby pictures I was showing off to others were of him, of his siblings, and those cousins who now have children of their own.   Suddenly we’re into the next generation.  What precious children they are!   But, while being a grand-aunt is truly grand, I’m not quite ready to be a grandmother.  😉

Our food arrived in no time, served up with smile by our friendly waitress.   You know, I have a great admiration for good waitresses.  Izzy's Breakfast On their feet for hours they take orders, deliver hot plates of food, pour coffee, and see to the needs of demanding customers.  How do they do it?

Today both of us ordered scrambled eggs and bacon, served up with home fries and toast.  Both the homefries and bacon were crispy, just as ordered.  Tasty, hot, and delicious.  Our waitress kept our coffee filled – great coffee – and checked back occasionally to see if we needed anything else.  Friendly, with a nice smile.

Our total bill came to just under $10 (plus tip) for two orders of eggs, bacon, homefries, toast, and coffee.  In today’s economy it is comforting to know that there are still good quality restaurant meals around with reasonable prices and good service.

Izzy’s Family Restaurant is located at 920 Union Boulevard, Allentown, PA, just east of Airport Road.  610-437-9644.  They are open 24/7.   Stop by for a visit!

Sara

Izzy's Family Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Today the Borough of Palmerton held Summer Sidewalk Sales, but we didn’t know that when we decided to go to Bert’s Steakhouse. We’d planned a visit since May when a reader, Steve, Bert's Steakhouserecommended it. This morning seemed a nice one for our first visit to Palmerton.  M. was pleased the minute we started driving down Delaware Avenue and into town.  “Look,” he said.  “Angled parking.”  We both smiled.  Angled parking just makes sense!

When we entered the ’60’s themed restaurant it looked full.  Booths and tables were all occupied with only a few counter seats open.  Then we realized there was a large adjoining dining room.  It’s homey, country-style welcomed us and a sign told us to seat ourselves.  A waitress brought menus along with our requested coffee and water.   When I heard Gerry & the Pacemakers singing “Ferry Cross the Mersey,” I felt like I’d stepped back to a more pleasant place in time.  Always loved that song!

A featured item across the top of my menu was Cinnamon Raisin French Toast with Vanilla Sauce.  Too good to pass up.  Bert's BreakfastM. ordered bacon and poached eggs.  Our food was soon brought by a warm and friendly waitress.  I found the vanilla sauce to be a perfect complement to the French Toast.  Too often I think syrup drowns the flavor of French Toast or pancakes.   This was light and lovely.  I’d also asked for a side order of bacon, browned and crisp when it arrived, with a delectable salty flavor.  Throughout the meal, our waitress kept our coffee cups filled in a thoroughly pleasant, non-intrusive way.

Our total bill was under $12 (plus tip) for 2 eggs, bacon, toast, orange juice, and Cinnamon Raisin French Toast with vanilla sauce, a generous side order of bacon, and 2 coffees with ample refills.  Quite reasonable.   We wholeheartily recommend Bert’s for its quality of food, pleasant atmosphere, and excellent service!

After our meal, we strolled up Delaware Avenue.  We were pleased to discover the Palmerton LibraryPalmerton Library on the corner and took a self-guided tour.  The First National Bank, built in 1926, donated the building to the library in the early 1970’s.  It is well-maintained with a broad selection of books,  DVDs, and an incredibly helpful librarian.  A large round table holds several computers, all occupied today.  There’s a sizeable childrens’ section in the rear and a young adults’ section downstairs.  Upstairs are more books and a large conference room.  Special Note: The Palmerton Library is currently holding a basket auction with many nice baskets on display.  If you’re from the area and haven’t been there lately, go buy a few tickets and bid!

Across the street from the Palmerton Library breakfast 267is the municipal building with a small park next to it.  The park features an antique clock and one of the many wonderfully painted mules from Miles of Mules.  Charming!  We continued our stroll.  M. bought some clothing (really good sales!) and we picked up some locally grown fresh produce at a corner market.

Although we hadn’t planned on touring Palmerton, we really enjoyed seeing the community.  This borough carries a lot of charm and flavor, not the least of which is found at Bert’s Steakhouse! Thank you, Steve, for a great recommendation!

Bert’s Steakhouse is located at 416 Delaware Ave., Palmerton, PA.  610-826-9921.  They are open Monday through Saturday from 6:30 am to 9:00 pm, and on Sunday from 8:00 am to 9:00 pm.

Sara

Bert's Steakhouse & Restaurant on Urbanspoon

M. slept in this morning. After a brief shore vacation then long hours at work to catch up on our return, and weekend chores around the house, it seems we haven’t had much time for breakfasting.  Weekdays it’s been grab and go for our morning meal – a hurried bowl of cereal or some toast at home, a bagel sandwich from Manhattan Bagel, or a quick stop at Dunkin’ Donuts on the way to work.  All good food although hardly the same as sitting down for a relaxed diner meal.  But, as I came to realize this morning, even diner breakfasts have their limits.

On Monday I picked up some fresh peaches at GiantPeaches and CreamNot quite ripe but looking as near to perfection in looks as one finds in a peach.  Beautiful with the deep promise of juicy sweetness.  A  few days on the kitchen counter have now brought out their luscious flavor.

M. likes eating peaches baked into muffins. (Click here for a favorite recipe).  Perhaps I’ll mix up a batch later.  For now, I decided one of my fresh peaches and some oatmeal would make a tasty breakfast while I skimmed the morning news.  As I sliced up one of the delectable peaches, juice dripping from my fingers, the words flashed into my mind.  Peaches and Cream.

In my childhood, when the summer peaches ripened in our local orchards, my parents always brought home two wooden boxes, fragrant and with each peach wrapped in tissue.   The contents of one crate we turned into preserves for the winter.  The other one we enjoyed in the form of peach pies, peach cobblers, or just eaten whole.   I probably don’t have to tell you that my favorite summer breakfast was Peaches and Cream.

So, this morning I forgot all about the oatmeal.  Instead, I finished slicing my peach into a bowl, sprinkled it with a teaspoon of sugar, and poured on a bit of cream (actually it was 2% milk).   There’s nothing quite like it for flavor.

Tell us about your favorite summertime breakfast.

Sara

This Fourth of July was dreamily warm and sunny in the Lehigh Valley.  Huge puffs of clouds drifted across the blue sky.  Key City signPerfect weather for a road trip.  So, on a holiday outing to New Jersey, we stopped for breakfast at a noted area landmark – the Key City Diner in Phillipsburg.

The restaurant’s hostess showed us to an isolated corner booth in the half-filled restaurant.  (We would regret not asking for a more noticeable table.)  From the large menu of appealing breakfast entrees, we chose quickly then turned our attention to the morning newspaper.   Well over ten minutes had passed when we realized a waitress had not yet made an appearance.   We were about to go searching when a red-shirted young woman appeared.   In apology she said, “I didn’t know you were here.”  We asked for coffee and water then placed our orders.

As we waited for our drinks, M. continued skimming the newspaper while I glanced around at the classic diner decor.  Key City outsideRoomy and bright, Key City is surrounded by windows.   Established in 1955, it sparkles with mirrored walls, formica and shiny stainless.   An airy, traditional New Jersey diner.

Another five minutes passed before our water finally arrived, followed by our coffee.  Scattered across the dining room, two larger parties and several couples talked, laughed, and enjoyed their meals.  A more experienced waitress efficiently handled their orders.

When our food came – steak and eggs for M., scrambled eggs for me – our waitress said she forgot our toast and would bring it right away.  breakfast 228After she’d left, I realized she’d also forgotten the sausage links I had ordered.  Meanwhile, M. began eating.  The homefries were well browned, crisp and tasty.  M.’s large steak was juicy and medium rare, as he’d asked.   My sausage links, once they arrived, were superb.

Mid-way through our meal, our coffee cups were empty; we awaited a refill.  Through the mirrored wall, I spied our waitress gazing out the window.  I motioned but she wandered away.   Finally, we signaled to the other waitress for more coffee.  She left to call our server then returned with a coffee pot.  Just then our waitress also showed up, pot in hand.

The Key City has a fine reputation.  The atmosphere is appealing and our food was very good.  Based on past experience for lunch, service has generally been friendly and quick.  Whatever the reason on this visit, service was sufficiently lacking that I felt it should be commented on.

Our total bill for a large breakfast steak, two eggs, homefries and toast, and two scrambled eggs, homefries, two sausage links and toast, and two cups of coffee (one refill each), came to just under $22 (plus tip).

The Key City Diner & Restaurant is located at the junction of Routes 22 and 57 in Phillipsburg, NJ.  908-859-2373.  They offer take-out, and are open 24 hours.

Sara

Key City Diner on Urbanspoon

Saturday’s rains had a poetic quality. Staunch downpours took only an occasional breath to drizzle, then poured again.  The rains are making the Lehigh Valley’s Bistro on Mainlandscape a hundred shades of green.  We might have stayed indoors but it seemed to be the perfect morning to enjoy breakfast at The Bístro on Main in Nazareth.

We’d also been reminded by News Over Coffee and the Express-Times that this weekend marked the Rotary’s fifth annual Barony of the Rose sale.  The 5,000 acre tract of land that is now Nazareth was once owned by William Penn’s family.  Each year, the tax to the heirs was one red rose.  In memory, the Rotary now holds an annual rose sale, with funds raised going back to the community.  So, on our way to breakfast, we stopped to buy our red rose.

The charming restaurant was nearly full when we arrived but we Bistro breakfastfound a lone table that seemed to be waiting for our arrival.  Our server, a tall young man, efficiently dropped off the breakfast menu then returned with two cups of steaming black coffee.  Delicious!  The one-page menu had a nice variety including omelets and other egg dishes, pancakes, and crepes!  Not a dish always found in the Valley.  Of course I had to try them.  I’ve been a crepe lover since a visit to Quebec a few years ago.  M. chose a hearty breakfast platter.

As we waited for our food, we talked and enjoyed the funky atmosphere of the bistro.  breakfast 218Its black ceiling, checkerboard black and white border, gold painted walls, and subdued lighting make it a delightful place to enjoy a meal.

Our food arrived. I was astounded by the crepes. I had chosen a combination of fillings – blueberries, blackberries, and peaches.  The crepes were packed with the fruit and the resulting flavor was exquisite.  Perhaps not quite the same as my memory of Quebec’s French crepes 😉 but very close.  M. also enjoyed his meal.  He’d ordered a platter that included three eggs, two meats, homefries, and wheat toast.  His eggs were exceptionally well-prepared and the meat was tasty.

Service was top-notch with our coffee cups refilled as often as needed.

Our total bill came to just over $15 (plus tip) for two coffees with ample refills, a breakfast platter that included three poached eggs, bacon, grilled sausage, homefries, and toast, and a plate of two large crepes filled with fruit, garnished with whipped cream, and drizzled with sauce.  Quite reasonable.  For its atmosphere, quality of food, service, and price, we heartily recommend a visit to The Bístro!

The Bístro on Main is located at 47 S. Main Street in Nazareth, Pennsylvania, just south of Center Square.  484-298-3360.  They are open for breakfast and lunch.  Stop in and let me know what you think.

Sara

The Bistro on Main on Urbanspoon

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

At a recent family gathering, my sister brought a plate of Chocolate Chip Scones.   We couldn’t quit nibbling them.  Here’s her recipe.   Thank you, sister dear!

Scones 1NUTTY CHOCOLATE CHIP SCONES

  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1/3 cup packed brown sugar
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 6 tablespoons butter, chilled
  • 1/2 cup buttermilk
  • 1 egg
  • 1-1/2 teaspoons almond extract
  • 1+ cup miniature chocolate chips (semi-sweet)
  • 1/2 cup chopped hazelnuts (walnuts will work in a pinch)

  1. Preheat oven to 400° F.  Lightly butter a 9-inch circle in the middle of a baking sheet.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together flour, brown sugar, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Cut butter into small cubes then cut it into the flour mixture.
  3. Stir buttermilk, egg, and almond extract; add to the flour mixture, and stir.  With a spoon, mix in the mini chocolate chips and nuts.   Dough will be sticky.
  4. Spread dough into an 8 inch circle over the prepared 9 inch circle on baking sheet. Cut with a serrated knife into 8 wedges.
  5. Bake 17 to 19 minutes at 400°, or until the top in lightly browned. Cool for 5 minutes. Transfer scones to a wire rack to finish cooling.  Serve warm, spread lightly with butter.  Or cool completely.  Store in airtight container.

Please try them and let me know what you think.  They’re great for breakfast, brunch, or with tea.   Enjoy!

Sara

A cloud-covered weekend morning took us to Easton’s west side and Palmer Township’s City Diner for breakfast.  To area natives, City Breakfast Signrvthe City Diner is more than an old standby – it’s a landmark and, to some, almost a home away from home.  According to the Lehigh Valley Metromix, the diner, which opened in the late 1950’s, is among the oldest diners in the Easton area.  Owner “Nick Giacoumopoulos took over in 1980,” the site says, and their chef has been there for over twenty-five years.   Like a good cheddar, it appears to have aged well.

The front and side parking lots were almost full when we arrived just after ten o’clock.  We found a space near the back.  Inside, the restaurant staff hustled – taking orders, serving food, re-filling coffee, clearing tables.  I asked if a booth might be available and we were quickly shown to the lone empty one along the back wall of the front section.  I noted that tables and booths were spaced closely, but not uncomfortably so.   A pleasant waitress delivered our requested water, a cup of coffee and a cup of tea.

An easel blackboard in the entryway had listed, among other items: raisin French toast and a broccoli cheese omelet – two of my favorites.  City DinerrvStill, I browsed through the menu.  It contained the usual diner fare.  Not sure why but I chose simple bacon and eggs, as did M.

While we waited, we sipped our hot beverages and browsed the morning paper.  We were especially drawn in by Joseph Owens’ morning blog. As we read, voices around us hummed.  I heard the owner/manager deliver a fresh plate to another customer; M. said later that he seemed to be actively involved, keeping a watchful eye.

Our food arrived.  Except for the preparation of the eggs, we’d ordered basically the same platesbreakfast 190 – eggs, bacon, homefries.  Our bacon was crispy, as requested, with a nice salty flavor.  My eggs were well scrambled, moist, and delicious!  M.’s poached eggs were fine, although close to being overcooked.  Still, he said he recognizes restaurants’ concerns over the egg police and problems that arise from undercooked eggs.  Our homefries were crispy, as requested; flavor was diner average.  Toast was perfect, and still hot when delivered.

Our waitress provided friendly, efficient service.  For a wholesome diner breakfast, I’d recommend a visit.

The total bill for two orders of eggs, bacon (3 pieces each), homefries, wheat toast, one coffee and one tea, came to just under $12 (plus tip).  Reasonable in today’s market.

The City Diner is located at 1061 S. 25th St., Easton, PA (Palmer Township) – at the corner of 25th St. and Freemansburg Road.  610-258-5526.  They are open Monday through Saturday 5:30 a.m. to 9:00 p.m., and Sunday from 6 a.m. to 9:00 p.m.

Sara

City Diner on Urbanspoon

It started out innocently. We wanted to go to a country diner.  One of us (neither claims credit) suggested we breakfast 180drive out Highway 248.  We’d stop at the first diner we came to west of Bath.  Ten minutes went by.  Good conversation.  Fifteen minutes.  We passed a pizza restaurant; doubtful it served eggs and bacon so we kept driving.  Twenty minutes.  Lots of trees and fields but we didn’t really feel like hunting for our breakfast.  Twenty-two minutes.  We drove by signs for towns we’d never heard of.  At twenty-six minutes, his stomach began to growl.  Mine had been grumbling for the past few miles.  That’s when we decided to exit at the next town to seek out a diner, whether it was on 248 or not.  And that is how we found Beacon 443 Diner/Restaurant in Lehighton.

We walked in through the side door at the end.  Beacon 443A waitress offered us our choice of seats in the half-filled diner.  We chose a window booth.  She gave us menus to look through while she brought our coffee.  I’ve noticed there are two types of diner menus: 1) large, heavily laminated, colorful menus that seem to have been printed by the same printer, and 2) those that are unique, more homegrown.  Generally, though not always, the more personalized menus have better food.   Beacon’s menu was of the homegrown type, a good sign.  The front cover noted that they’d been in business since 1941.  As our visit progressed we saw their secret for such longevity.

A friendly waitress took our order.  As we sipped at our coffee, quite good, we talked and looked around.  The Beacon sports a casual charm.  Beacon 443 foodIt’s obviously been tastefully redecorated through the years.   Given their easy chatter with the staff, many of the customers seemed to be regulars who enjoy the friendliness and warm atmosphere.

Soon our food arrived.  M. had ordered eggs benedict with hash browns, rather than homefries.  The order was well-prepared with the poached eggs perfectly cooked, and hot.  The hash brown pattie was golden brown.  I’d ordered a Belgian waffle with strawberries and whipped cream.  The menu had also offered the waffle with creamed chipped beef, but strawberries held far more appeal.  My meal was exceptionally tasty, not too sweet.  The whipped cream was smooth and light – real cream.

Our attentive waitress kept our coffee cups filled.  Great food, great service in a comfortable diner.

Our total bill came to about $14 (plus tip) for Eggs Benedict, hash browns, a Belgian waffle with strawberries and whipped cream, and two coffees.

The Beacon 443 Diner/Restaurant is located at 35 Blakeslee Blvd. E. (Highway 443) in Lehighton, PA.  (610) 377-1782.  If you’re ever driving west on 248 from Bath, continue on to Lehighton and stop in for a delicious, home-cooked diner meal.  You’ll enjoy it!  (And if you happen to spot another diner along 248 between the two towns, you will let us know, won’t you?  Just click “comments” at the top.)

Sara

Beacon 443 Diner Restaurant on Urbanspoon

One of the unexpected joys I’ve discovered in creating this breakfast review blog are the emails and suggestions received from readers, like Valerie & Phil from Pen Argyl.  Recently they visited and commented on The Breakfast Table.  They wrote:

The Breakfast Table“My husband and I discovered a unique and charming breakfast and lunch eatery, The Breakfast Table …. located on Tatamy Road, at the intersection of Corriere Road, in Palmer Township.

The food is wonderful, the coffee excellent, the wait staff is very friendly, the establishment immaculate, the atmosphere is very bright and welcoming and, if you enjoy Sinatra, you will have a very pleasant breakfast experience.”

Valerie and Phil
Pen Argyl, PA

Thank you, Valerie & Phil!  Shortly after it opened, long before this blog, my husband and I enjoyed lunch at The Breakfast Table.  As I recall, it was every bit as charming and pleasant as you describe.

One recent afternoon I drove by to snap the above photo and saw their menu posted outside.  Along with traditional eggs and breakfast potatoes, selections include:  quiche, assorted breakfast burritos, omelettes, steak & eggs, Belgian waffles, pancakes and a lovely variety of sides.

The Breakfast Table is open for breakfast and lunch Tuesday through Sunday from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.  They are closed on Monday.  A friend told me that her office reserved the restaurant for their evening Christmas party a few years ago so it may also be available for private functions off-hours.  Their street address is 2 Crown Plaza, Easton, PA.  Phone – (610) 252-8783.

Sara

UPDATE*** September 9, 2009

See another great review of The Breakfast Table at The Fork City blog (click here).

Sara

Breakfast Table 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

On Valentine’s Day a fellow blogger, Capri, visited the Coopersburg Diner and reviewed it in her blog.  Her fine review prompted usCoopersburg Diner to add it to our growing list of diners to visit for breakfast.  Recently, on a lovely April morning, we decided to stop.  I do agree with Capri.  What a great spot for breakfast!

As we drove south, the construction along Route 309 almost caused us to pass right by.  Just in time, Penn Dot’s orange cones alerted us to the temporary turn-in lane.  (This accounts for my slightly lopsided photo.  Hard to get a more centered shot without risking life and limb.)  Given the traffic situation, the parking lot was fuller than I expected.  Apparently a little roadwork isn’t keeping folks away.

Inside, we were shown to a side window booth.  The diner has a clean refurbished look, homey with wood paneling, and an interesting ceiling.   Our waitress brought menus, water, and a carafe of coffee, which she left at the table :).   The breakfast menu held a wonderful variety; well worth reading through.  I opted for a croissant sandwich, although I was sorely tempted by the cinnamon roll sandwich with vanilla ice cream.  Sometime.

Croissant sandwich As we chatted and browsed through the newspaper, still more folks arrived.  Soon the servers were bustling.  Our smiling waitress brought our order.  As mentioned, I’d chosen the croissant sandwich – fried eggs, cheese and bacon on a croissant.  It came with homefries, browned, just as I’d requested.  M. ordered eggs, homefries, and a large order of bacon.

The breakfast croissant was huge, and delicious.  Couldn’t quite finish it.   M. thoroughly enjoyed his meal as well, superbly prepared.  We both agreed that the bacon and homefries were exceptionally tasty.  Our one disappointment was the coffee, a bit weak.  (We like strong coffee.)  Still, given the quality of everything else and the fine atmosphere, that won’t keep us away in the future.

Service was excellent, with our friendly waitress checking back often.

Our meals – two eggs, five pieces of bacon, homefries, orange juice, toast and coffee for him, croissant sandwich, homefries and coffee for me – came to under $12 (plus tip).   Most reasonable, given our large orders.

The Coopersburg Diner is located at 336 North 3rd Street (Route 309) in Coopersburg, PA.  610-282-1853.  They offer call ahead seating, have banquet facilities, and cater corporate and family functions.

Have you visited the Coopersburg Diner?  Please share your experience.

Sara

Coopersburg Diner on Urbanspoon

Easter breakfast is a delightful meal, easter-flowersrvespecially when served at home.   Our favorite is to serve a savory quiche with muffins, fresh fruit and, of course, hot coffee.  Over the years the quiche recipes have varied but the basics remain the same.

I used to make muffins from scratch until I discovered a box mix, the Krusteaz brand.  It is as moist and flavorful as anything I could ever make.  Krusteaz comes in many flavors.  We prefer Wild Blueberry, but others – Lemon Poppyseed, Chocolate Chip, and  Cranberry Orange – are just as good.  If you click on the Krusteaz name (here), then click on your favorite flavor, you’ll find recipe variations.  Adding fresh blueberries to the Lemon Poppyseed mix creates an especially moist muffin.

Fresh fruit is always a delight for Easter breakfast, or any breakfast.  Whether cut up into a fruit salad, or sliced, or eaten whole, the flavor of yellow bananas, whole strawberries, or chunks of melon is a sure winner.

Quiche became popular in the United States in the early 1970’s but history dates it back to Medieval times, to the Alsace-Lorraine region in France and Germany.  It is a hearty meal that can be served as an appetizer, for breakfast, or brunch.  It is made from eggs, milk, and cheese baked into a pie crust.  Savories such as diced onions and pieces of bacon or bacon are added, along with vegetables such as broccoli or spinach.   Through the years I’ve found that as long as you have the basic mixture of eggs and dairy, other ingredients can be changed at will.  Click for an assortment of Quiche recipes from Allrecipe.com.

Mr. Breakfast offers up his own version.  Click the screen’s center and turn up your volume to see how it’s done.

Here’s the link to Mr. Breakfast’s written recipe for Spinach Quiche.

What will you and yours be eating for breakfast this Easter?  Do you have a favorite restaurant you’d like to tell us about?  An old family recipe you’ll make at home?   Please share by clicking comments on the dateline at the top of this post.

Happy Easter!

Sara

Café Verde resides in a quaint two-story row house in Phillipsburg, NJ, on the banks of the Delaware River.cafe-verde5 Over time, several readers have recommended it.  This morning, just as we were discussing where to go for breakfast, I received an amiable email from yet another reader noting Café Verde as a favorite.  Providence.  So, on this blustery April morn, my husband and I drove across the bridge to New Jersey.  It was worth the drive.  The restaurant delivered on all we’d heard.

The downstairs dining room looked quite cozy.  We would have gladly taken a seat there, but I’d heard that the upstairs had a view of the river.  We chose a table on the second floor, overlooking the Delaware. In addition to the pleasant view, the room was comfortable and pretty, painted in soft greens and blues.  Attractive art work from area artists adorned the walls.  A homey feeling enveloped us.

breakfast-1441Our friendly waitress soon brought glasses of water, and large mugs of black coffee with creamers.  She then disappeared to give us time to look through the menu.  The café offers a good selection of omelets, French Toast, pancakes, and sides.  We both chose the French Toast, made from thick Challah Bread.

When we first arrived we’d been alone upstairs but, while there, a family arrived, then a few other couples and friends.  It struck me as the perfect sort of restaurant to bring friends from out-of-town for breakfast, lunch, or dinner.   Quiet and comfortable but with a unique local flair.

We were just finishing our first mug of (sensational!) coffee when our meals arrived.  M. had ordered French Toast Deluxebreakfast-1473 – three pieces of Challah French Toast, two eggs, a slice of ham, bacon, and one piece of sausage.  He also asked for a side of toast for his eggs.  I chose two pieces of French Toast and a side order of bacon.  We agreed that the French Toast was among the best we’d eaten.  Light, thick, rich.  M. said the ham, sausage, and bacon were all choice quality, and well-prepared.  His eggs were large and poached just as he likes them, hot and runny.  Our coffee mugs were refilled at just at the right time.  The waitresses were friendly and attentive.  All in all, a perfect meal in a gracious setting.

The total bill came to $24.50 (plus tip).   We ordered too much, though, and the portions were large.  For the first time – ever – we brought home leftovers from breakfast. 😯  Still, it re-heated well, and was as scrumptious for a late lunch as it had been this morning.

As a final aside, I found this You Tube video about the restaurant.  (Click in center to run. )

Café Verde is located at 60 S. Main Street in Phillipsburg, NJ.

My sincere thanks to Carol, and to other readers, for directing us to this charming café.  I hope you will comment with your experiences.

Sara

Cafe Verde on Urbanspoon

The pretty town of Ashburnham rests along the ashburnham-map1northern border of Massachusetts and New Hampshire, about an hour’s drive from Boston.  Ashburnham was settled in 1736 then incorporated in 1765, eleven years before the colonies declared independence from Britain.   Today it is home to about 5,500 residents, and to Cushing Academy, the oldest co-ed boarding school in the nation.   Ivers Whitney Adams, founder of the Boston Red Stockings, Boston’s first baseball team, was Ashburnham’s most notable resident.   Most notable, that is, until last Monday night.

seniorcenterFor some time now, the senior citizens of the good town of Ashburnham have met at the town’s Senior Center to socialize over morning coffee.   The elderly folk often pitch in and bring their own treats and baked goods.  But recently a problem arose.  Included in the annual budget for the local Council on Aging was the sum of $840 for the “morning coffee club.”

Enter Ashburnham’s Advisory Board Chairman Francis “Bill” Johnson.  At last Monday’s meeting Chairman Johnson proclaimed that he does not want to see the town’s money spent on doughnuts for the seniors.  He sees the action as encouraging poor eating habits.   Then he spoke the words that made the seniors really see red.

“You keep putting pastries and doughnuts in front of them and they are going to eat them.”

The Worcester Telegram & Gazette News first broke the story.  In today’s internet age it quickly passed along the AP wires to Chicago, Minneapolis, and Seattle, to National Public Radio, to ABC and CBC.   Comments flooded the news.  Soon, if not already, late night talk show hosts will speak of it.

Should the seniors be allowed to eat their doughnuts?  After I quit chuckling over poor Chairman Johnson’s folly, the thought occurred to me – this is the generation that fought in World War II and in Korea.   Our parents’ and grandparents’ peers.   Doughnuts may not be the healthiest, and he may have meant well, but is it the town leader’s responsibility to micromanage what a senior citizen, a voting taxpayer, eats at a morning coffee?

In honor of these seniors, I offer up an old family recipe for Baked Apple Donuts.   I hope a few of you it try it!  And remember this morning to raise your coffee cup in a toast to Ashburnham’s elderly.  They deserve your support.

BETTY’S BAKED APPLE DONUTS

  • 1 1/2 cup flour
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
  • 1 3/4 teaspoon baking powder

Sift and cut in 1/3 cup shortening.   Then mix:

  • 1 egg
  • 1/4 cup milk
  • 1/2 cup shredded apple

With a large spoon, blend mixtures together.  Fill mini-muffin tins 1/2 to 2/3 full.  Bake at 350° for 20 to 25 minutes.  While warm, roll in melted butter and then in mixture of 3/4 cup sugar and 1 teaspoon cinnamon.

Enjoy!

Sara

Spring is nearly here. The greening scent surrounds us.  Birds flutter through budding trees and chirp at the coming warmth.  Although cool showers are predicted for Sunday, today is a brilliant, blue-sky day diner-2483with the temperature expected to reach 70°.  At 2 AM, it will be time to set our clocks forward and spring into Daylight Savings Time, an idea first conceived of by Benjamin Franklin in the dawn of our nation’s history.  All in all, an ideal morning to sample a fresh new restaurant.

Diner 248 opened recently on Highway 248 between Nazareth and Easton.  It sits across the road from the Hampton Inn, and occupies the former Jack Creek Steakhouse.  With fresh paint outdoors and in, varnished wood tables, tasteful floral carpeting and muted colors, the restaurant is both warm and inviting.   As we stepped inside, a cheerful hostess greeted us and showed us to a booth near a back window.

Our waitress introduced herself with a smile and left us with two menus. breakfast-1363She returned quickly with hot black coffee served in tall white mugs.  The breakfast menu at Diner 248 features an interesting selection.   From a meatlovers omelette to three types of Eggs Benedict to Peach Melba and Banana Nut pancakes, there’s something for all.  I was delighted to see Stuffed French Toast on the menu, three versions.  After first eating it at Morgan’s Restaurant a few weeks ago, I was tempted to order it again, as a comparison.  Maybe next visit.  Today my taste buds called for savory rather than sweet so I ordered a simple omelette.

As we waited, we flipped through pages of the local news.  Of special note – Penn State-Lehigh Valley, now in Fogelsville, will move into the closing Lehigh Valley College in Center Valley.  This doubles the space for Penn State-LV.  It also puts it on public transportation routes.  A good move for the Valley!

Within minutes our waitress brought our food. breakfast-1351 M. had ordered orange juice, traditional Eggs Benedict – toasted English muffins topped with Canadian bacon, poached eggs, and hollandaise sauce.  His eggs were nicely cooked, not hard as can happen if the chef isn’t watchful.  Not a problem here – 248’s chef is skilled.  My omelette was flavorful with finely chopped broccoli and the right amount of melted cheddar.  Both orders came with browned home fries.   Only warmer plates might have improved the otherwise most satisfying meal.  Service was great.  Our waitress was friendly, attentive, and kept our coffee mugs filled.

Our bill came to just under $17 (plus tip) for Eggs Benedict with home fries, a broccoli cheddar omelette with home fries and toast, one glass of orange juice, and two coffees with ample refills.

Diner 248 is located at 3701 Easton Nazareth Highway (Route 248), Easton, Pennsylvania.  Phone – 610-252-4300.   The diner serves breakfast from 6 AM to 2 PM daily.   While there, we glanced at their lunch and dinner menu.  It shows an intriguing variety of sandwiches, gyros, salads, entrees, and other dishes.   We plan to return soon!

Sara

Diner 248 on Urbanspoon

Pancakes make me smile. 🙂 Maybe it’s because I remember the many happy Sunday mornings when my children were young and we made pancakes for breakfast.   Big or little, thick or thin, pancakes with chocolate chips, blueberries or bits of bacon.  Or just plain.  My kids loved it when I poured the batter to make special shapes.  Fish or birds were easier to make than tigers but they ate them all.  So good when spread with real butter and drizzled with maple syrup.

pasAccording to the Pancake Appreciation Society, pancakes first appeared in a cookbook around 1439, but they are probably much older, dating back to Roman Times or before.  Using various recipes and methods, known by various names, they are eaten worldwide.

In the Lehigh Valley we celebrate Fastnacht Day on the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday.  But it’s also known as Pancake Day, or Shrove Tuesday – the last feast day before Lent.  It began in medieval times as a chance to use up eggs and fats before the 40 days of Lenten fasting.

IHOP, International House of Pancakes, has built an empire based on the simple pancake.  With over 1,300 restaurants across the U.S., Canada, and Mexico, they now serve over 700 million pancakes a year.   When we were dating, my husband and I sometimes met at IHOP for pancakes and waffles.  A few years later, we took our children there for special meals.  Happy times.

Pancakes are a simple food.   I once read a poignant story about a poor farmer whose wife had died.  There was little in the house for him to cook for his hungry family so, they made pancakes.  Their troubles were real but they found comfort by just mixing a bit of flour, milk, and eggs, and cooking it on a griddle.  Funny how that scene stays with me.

Here’s a delicious old family recipe.   It’s not exact but that’s how old family recipes are.

FARMHOUSE PANCAKES

  • 1 cup flour
  • milk (about 3/4 cup, but don’t add all at once)
  • 1 tablespoon oil or melted butter
  • 2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1/2 teaspoons salt
  • 1 or 2 eggs (depending on size)

Add some milk gradually.  The more milk, the thinner the batter.  Beat in eggs.  There may be some small lumps in the batter.  Don’t worry about them.  Make sure the skillet is always well greased and hot.

Recently I found this fun video on You Tube.  Click the screen to watch it…then go mix up some pancake batter of your own.

Do you have a favorite pancake recipe, or restaurant that serves them?  Please share your story by clicking comments at the top of the article.

Sara

“You’ve not had breakfast out,” a reader wrote last November,  “until you’ve had it at Morgan’s.”  morgans-sign-rv1With glowing praise, she used words such as charming, perfect atmosphere, and relaxed.   A peek at Morgan’s website marked it as the ideal place to visit over the Christmas holidays; life had other plans.  Then, on Valentine’s Day, my husband and I decided to celebrate the day with a leisurely drive across the valley to finally eat breakfast at Morgan’s.  When we arrived, the restaurant was packed but in such a pleasant atmosphere we didn’t mind waiting.  Within 20 minutes, we were shown to our table next to one of the beautiful stone walls.

The breakfast menu at Morgan’s extends beyond the ordinarymorgans1 with dishes like German Apple Pancakes and Four Cheese Frittatas.  Valentine’s specials included a cheese and mushroom omelet, a chocolate Belgian Waffle and stuffed French toast with blackberries.  Difficult to choose, especially when chocolate is involved, but I went with the French toast.  M. ordered eggs and crab hash.  As we sipped from our large coffee mugs, we were embraced by the easy charm and grace of the restaurant.   The red cloth-covered tables were surrounded with family groups and couples, young and old talking quietly…enjoying their meals.

Within a short time, our smiling young waitress french-toast-morgans1delivered our order.  M.’s poached eggs were cooked harder than he likes, but the rest of our meal was superb.   The plate of crab hash, a unique blend of crab meat, onion, and potatoes, was filled with flavor.   My French toast was stuffed with sweetened cream cheese topped with fresh blackberries and a light and lovely lemon sauce. A sensational blend of flavors!   The delicious meal, graceful atmosphere, and attentive service made for a special Valentine’s Day breakfast.  Thank you, Morgan’s.  And thanks also to Diane, for the recommendation!

Our total bill came to just over $20 (plus tip) for two eggs, cottage fries, toast, a plate of crab hash, stuffed French toast, and two mugs of coffee with ample refills.

Have you visited Morgan’s for breakfast?  Please click comments above to share your experiences.

Morgan’s Restaurant is located at 3079 Willow St., Allentown, just off Cedar Crest Rd., 2.8 miles north of Highway 22.  Breakfast is from 7 am to 11 am; lunch & dinner from 11:30 am to 9:00 pm, Monday through Saturday only.  610-769-4100.

Sara

Morgan's on Urbanspoon

The early morning smell of fresh baked muffins is a great start to the day, especially during deep winter when snow and frigid cold lurk outdoors.  Here’s a recipe that’s been in our family for years.  Mix it up in advance.  The original recipe says the batter will keep in the refrigerator for up to 6 weeks but in our household it’s never lasted that long.

REFRIGERATED BRAN MUFFINS

In a large bowl, combine the following ingredients:

  • 1 (15-oz.) box Raisin Bran Flakes
  • 5 cups flour
  • 2 cups sugar
  • 5 teaspoons baking soda
  • 2-1/2 teaspoons salt

Mix well with large mixing spoon then add:

  • 4 cups milk mixed with
  • 2 tablespoons vinegar
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 4 beaten eggs

Mix well again.  Store covered in refrigerator and use batter as needed.

When ready to bake, fill muffin cups 2/3 full.  Bake in pre-heated oven at 400° for 15 to 20 minutes.

Enjoy!

Sara

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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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