Joe's Restaurant - Reading, PA reborn in Oregon

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michaelcarraher
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2010/06/01 18:46:46 (permalink)

Joe's Restaurant - Reading, PA reborn in Oregon

Anybody else remember Joe's in Reading.  It was a fancy place in an unfancy neighborhood.  The Stern's wrote the place up in Roadfood once upon a time.  It was known for its cellar - wine and mushrooms.  The place had a great wine collection and a great collection of home grown mushrooms which they worked into some amazing recipes.  The owners opened a second place, Joe's Bistro, in West Reading but sold out both in the mid 90s (the Bistro is still there under new owners).

It turns out Joe Czarnecki, the owner of the Reading Joe's, which his family had operated since 1916, decided the ideal place to pursue their interests in wine, mushroom and cooking was Oregon.  They opened a place called The Joel Palmer House in Dayton, OR (South of Portland about halfway to Salem).  The menu of their is much like what I remember in Reading, especially including Joe's signature Wild Mushroom Soup. 

I can't recommend it because I haven't eaten there (yet).  I'd be curious if any other Roadfooders have and what their impressions were.  I can say that based on how great Joe's food was in Reading, I will make it a point to get there the next time I'm anywhere near Portland, OR.

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    michaelcarraher
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    Re:Joe's Restaurant - Reading, PA reborn in Oregon 2010/06/01 18:48:37 (permalink)
    PS: I forgot about the rule on posting links.

    The website address is joelpalmerhouse dot com
    #2
    Michael Hoffman
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    Re:Joe's Restaurant - Reading, PA reborn in Oregon 2010/06/01 19:27:30 (permalink)
    I just checked their menu. Apparently there's nothing they serve that someone such as myself who is allergic to mushrooms could eat.
    #3
    mr chips
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    Re:Joe's Restaurant - Reading, PA reborn in Oregon 2010/06/02 01:54:40 (permalink)
    The Palmer House is a culinary landmark in the the Oregon wine country. Fantastic food. did not know the provenance of the owners.
    #4
    buffetbuster
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    Re:Joe's Restaurant - Reading, PA reborn in Oregon 2010/06/02 09:44:19 (permalink)
    I remember reading about Joe's in the old Roadfood books and wishing I had been able to eat there before they closed.  Next time in Oregon for sure.

    No surprise to see mr chips has been to The Palmer House!
    #5
    acer2x
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    Re:Joe's Restaurant - Reading, PA reborn in Oregon 2010/06/02 11:27:12 (permalink)
    I've been to Joe's in Reading. One of the best around back in the day.I understand that the original Joe is now deceased. Here is an article on the restaurant in Oregon:

    http://findarticles.com/p/articles/mi_m3190/is_n46_v31/ai_20005602/
    #6
    enginecapt
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    Re:Joe's Restaurant - Reading, PA reborn in Oregon 2010/06/03 03:14:16 (permalink)
    Michael Hoffman

    I just checked their menu. Apparently there's nothing they serve that someone such as myself who is allergic to mushrooms could eat.


    Put your glasses on, gramps. I saw a few items sans champignons.
    #7
    jeffyh
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    Re:Joe's Restaurant - Reading, PA reborn in Oregon 2010/08/13 13:12:38 (permalink)
    realizing that I have no history here (much less credibility... ;-) ) I will second/third/fourth the recommendations regarding the Joel Palmer house. Amazing food!!! The mushroom cheesecake for dessert was especially wonderful...
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    Martin Wilcox
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    Re:Joe's Restaurant - Reading, PA reborn in Oregon 2012/05/13 14:41:18 (permalink)
    I knew the Czarnecki family well and used to stay with them in Reading years ago. At that time Joe snr. was in charge and the food was superb. Glad to hear that the tradition has been carried forward at the new location in Oregon!
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    ken8038
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    Re:Joe's Restaurant - Reading, PA reborn in Oregon 2012/05/16 22:46:01 (permalink)
    I went to Joe's in Reading once. It was on a weekend to the Amish Country with my soon-to-be wife (we're still married) and it must have been about 1980. What I remember is that I was very slightly disapointed based on the hype, and the steaks we had, well, lets' just say we had recently been to Sparks Steakhouse in NY (THE hot NY steakhouse at the time) and Sparks was better. Oh, and the bill (Around $70 with a nice bottle of wine) was I think the most I had ever spent for dinner for two up to that time. The mushroom soup in particular was not nearly as good as my soon-to-be Mother In Law of Hungarian/Austrian descent made regularly.
     
    What I did not know at the time was that I was only a couple of blocks away from what some have called The Greatest Bar Ever, Stanley's Tavern. I did remedy that in 1983, and I was NOT disappointed.  There seems to be no trace of Stanley's on the www, but if you have access to old Issues of The New Yorker, or a copy of a long out of print book called "The Bars of Reading", do a search.
    post edited by ken8038 - 2012/05/16 22:50:22
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    michaelcarraher
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    Re:Joe's Restaurant - Reading, PA reborn in Oregon 2012/05/17 07:41:01 (permalink)
    Michael Hoffman

    I just checked their menu. Apparently there's nothing they serve that someone such as myself who is allergic to mushrooms could eat.

     
    Get real!  Their specialty, like the original Joe's in Reading, is dishes made with mushrooms.  They make that clear.  If you're allergic to mushrooms, don't go there.  This is the most petty complaint I've seen here.  For the record, if you have high cholesterol, don't go to Peter Luger's.  If you are diabetic, don't go to Drewe's frozen custard.  If you're an alcoholic, stay out of bars.  Apparently, you want to pass laws against anything you don't like or can't have. 
    #11
    RC51Mike
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    Re:Joe's Restaurant - Reading, PA reborn in Oregon 2012/05/17 07:51:19 (permalink)
    I'm sure there were and are places that serve better food.  I think what made Joe's special was that the Czarnecki's ran a restaurant and served wild mushrooms they hand picked in the mountains above Reading.  They were doing it long before farm to market and organic food became fashionable.  In that way they were trendsetters and cause for customers to come from all over the world to dine there. 
     
    As to Stanley's it's claim to fame was that it did not allow women in the bar.  Many have tried but Stanley would just ignore them.  A quaint anachronism and a step back in time for better or worse.  It also had no bar stools, a stand-up bar as it was called.  In the early '80's when I lived there beer, as with many places in Reading, cost 25 to 35 cents a glass.  A decent lunch could be had for a couple bucks.  I lunched with female coworkers in the dining room having its own ladies entrance.
     
    The best thing on Minor Street in my opinion was the Bell Alley Bakery.  Drive up a tiny one lane brick alley and go inside a door at the rear of a house.  Inside against the brick wall was an oven door.  The man would open the door and using a peel remove freshly baked too hot to handle soft pretzels.  You would tell him how many you want and he would put them in a paper bag.  I don't remember how much they cost, we'd usually get a bag full to share at the office, but they were dirt cheap.  Easily the best soft pretzel you could ever find.
     
    "The Bars of Reading" was a booklet written by two friends who visited every bar in Reading, over 120 as I recall, for a city of about 80,000.  They had at least one beer in each and rated them.  I have a copy somewhere but might have been lost in a recent move.  What I discovered interesting about the bars of Reading was that of the 120 some bars there, you could safely walk into nearly all of them, have a beer and strike up a conversation.  Few times would you feel or be treated like an outsider.  They were all neighborhood bars, dotting nearly every corner throughout the city.  Simple but homemade, inexpensive and good food could be found at many.  Jars of hot sausage and red eggs on the bar were commonplace.  Over the five years I lived in Reading I had been in dozens of bars but still never approached all of them.
     
    My favorite bar, now gone, was Al Kline's Paddock.  Huge neon signs adorned the neighborhood facade.  Inside, you were greeted by a horsey theme where booths looked like horse stalls and several bar stools were saddles.  German clockwork machines of horses and horse racing memorabilia including a sulky decorated the walls.  It was a theme but not kitchy or "concepted."  It was sincere reflection of the man behind the bar, Al Kline a former horse racer, retired but not gone from his sport and vocation.  That was his life and his history up on the walls.  A beer, conversation and a sardine sandwich was a couple dollars but worth thousands.
    #12
    Marknem
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    Re:Joe's Restaurant - Reading, PA reborn in Oregon 2012/05/18 12:42:38 (permalink)
    Bell Alley pretzels are still there, though it's unclear for how much longer. Reading Eagle reported they were about to close last year, but public reacted strongly and they're still around. I'm not permitted to post links, but if you Google Bell Alley + Reading Eagle, you'll find the stories. Most recent one was published in March.
      

     
    post edited by Marknem - 2012/05/18 12:44:17
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    ken8038
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    Re:Joe's Restaurant - Reading, PA reborn in Oregon 2012/05/19 22:06:25 (permalink)
    RC51 Mike: Thanks for the reminicenses of Stanley's and the Bars of Reading. I actually got to know "Suds and Dregs" (the authors) a little bit. In fact it was them who a friend and I went to Stanley's with. The food writer Calvin Trillin happened to pick up a copy of the booklet which led to a long article about them in the New Yorker magazine, and as a result of that they actually wound up appearing on the Tonight Show with Johnny Carson. Quite a story.
     
    And yes, I did go to the Paddock once. Sunds and Dregs wound up hosting a Tavern Tour of thier favorite Bars in Reading which I and a couple of my friends attended. It was great.
      
      
     
    post edited by ken8038 - 2012/05/19 22:09:38
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