Monday, November 15, 2010

Meeting Halfway for Good Eats

During two separate trips to Pennsylvania this past year, I found myself developing some pretty strong emotional ties to a little place in Reading called Good Eatz Green Cafe. Initially started as a gluten-free bakery, Good Eatz eventually rolled out a cafe to accommodate various food allergies and preferences. I first heard of it after a few internet searches to find someplace near my host's family's home where we could sneak out for a bite and where I could find some vegan fare. No, it's not a vegan restaurant, but it was within an hour's drive of where I was staying, had the most intricately labeled menu I'd ever seen in a non-vegan restaurant and had a sort of laid-back "mom 'n' pop" vibe that left my friend and I feeling comfortable from our very first visit.

Some of my favourite picks from the menu were the Harvest Salad (roasted butternut squash and grilled asparagus on mixed greens, tossed with a cranberry white balsamic vinaigrette with dried cranberries, spiced walnuts and carrots), the Sautéed Vegetable Wrap (containing broccoli, butternut squash, sun-dried tomatoes, onions, peppers, grilled asparagus and hummus) and the Vegan Grilled Reuben. The Marinated Tofu "Burger" was OK, as was the Vegetable Burger, but if I get to visit again, I'll likely go back to that scrumptious Harvest Salad or try out one of the numerous other vegan options they have on their menu (the Vegan Shepherd's Pie and Vegan Veggie Lasagna were tempting). Their wraps and sandwiches are all served with a fresh date, some pieces of orange, a pickle and one of the 2-3 salads of the day (either fruit, pasta, potato or rice based and so the waitress told me, always with at least one vegan option).

The servings were generous and the service was great. The prices were reasonable, too. A few of the times we went, someone was setting up to do an open mic sort of thing and the crowd was always a balanced mix of college students and older ordinary looking folks. We always managed to find a table in the small place that offered us privacy, which was really nice. I've lost track of how many times we ate there -- four or five? I'd been looking forward to four or five more and do
hope to return someday.

I hadn't felt comfortable blogging about it up until now, because the truth is that the place does sell animal products, which is usually greeted with a sigh and a shrug by those of us who are stuck in towns or cities with no vegan restaurant options. The place also perpetuates the whole "organic is better" myth, unfortunately, when it comes to the animal products it serves. One waitress informed me during a visit, however, that the vegan portion of the menu at Good Eatz has been increasing quickly and significantly since they've opened and that the demand for vegan fare is obviously there and growing. Fingers crossed that this place of which I've grown nostalgic for other reasons does at some point end up with a completely vegan menu. In the interim, if you're ever in Reading, PA and in need of a place to eat, check them out and talk to them about wiping the animal products off their menu.

The Good Eatz Green Cafe on Urbanspoon

No comments: