Em J's Cafe, Berwyn, PA Gluten Free and Vegetarian Friendly

I suppose I have known about Em J's in Berwyn, PA for some time now. I was always intrigued that they offered gluten free on their menu - including pancakes, waffles, bread, muffins, etc. but always worried about the potential contamination and their mixed reviews.

Some online reviewers would say, ...Em J's passed with flying colors - great food, service, and price!
Others would say, eh food was okay, the service stunk and price is not worth it.

Still, Em J's stuck in the back of my mind and when my sister suggested an all day breakfast place on a Saturday afternoon, I only knew of two Em J's and Nudy's and I knew without a doubt that Nudy's Cafe would be packed - so voted for Em J's.

It was a bit further than I had anticipated but parking was readily available and it was a straight drive down 30.

The owner himself greeted us upon arrival and helped squeeze two tables together for our 6 top.

We were placed right at the door on a very windy and cold winter day so I was anticipating freezing - BUT somehow or another, I was actually comfortable enough to take my coat off and all - which is rare for me in a restaurant.

Drinks were ordered first. I went with an herbal tea. I have to say, I was rather disappointed with the options of their herbal tea - but figured they likely don't serve nearly as much tea as they do coffee.

I had reviewed the menu over and over and over and over again - but after having just been contaminated earlier in the week and still feeling the repercussions, I was VERY nervous to order anything that I was not making for myself. Those darn lemon poppyseed pancakes were on special and I couldn't stop staring at them.

I let everyone else order first and then asked the waitress close to 100 questions on what gluten free products they had, their brand, what could be made gluten free and vegetarian ( I knew I wouldn't get away with vegan), and the questions went on and on. Thank the lord my waitress was very patient and didn't mind running back and forth from the kitchen.

On a whim, I ordered the lemon poppyseed pancakes but asked to omit the toppings.

A moment or two later and my stomach pains reminded me why I was nervous about ordering food I don't prepare for myself so I sort of sprinted off to the open-kitchen to cancel my order - while the Chef quickly eased my mind. Noting he was more than happy to clean all the utensils, pans, etc. and walk through the entire process with me and make any adjustments I needed. I apologized for being a bit difficult and he said, "No! I get it, you have to take care of you! But I am happy to help." His assurance and patience eased my mind and I left my order as-is.

The food was delivered not too much longer after our conversation. My dish was one of the first to come out and then came round two immediately after and for some reason, the last dish (which I believed to be the most simple plain eggs, toast, and sausage) came out closer to another 5 minutes. This is a big deal when everyone else is starving and staring at their plate waiting for the last one to come out.

I then requested some peanut butter, jam, syrup whatever toppings they had for my pancakes. The waitress brought out an array of options for me and informed me that she opened a new container of peanut butter and used a clean knife. THANK YOU!

The pancakes were fluffy, lemony, and pretty delicious. I do think that the 11.00 for two pancakes is a bit high!

What did the remainder of the table think? We had two orders for the special La Mancha Omelette and both were very pleased. We had a couple side orders of the sausage, which appeared to be a big hit. We had a burger, some pancakes, and eggs and everyone enjoyed their dishes and finished them clean.

Service was bit slower - we had to ask for coffee refills a couple of times and they forgot to bring butter and jam for everyone's toast.

We stayed just chatting with one another for a couple of hours so Em J's does a great job of creating a home-like atmosphere.

All in all, I do think Em J's was a bit expensive for breakfast. I do think the food was delicious. I do think it was gluten free friendly (just let them know it is for an allergy and they will clean everything) and I do think service was friendly, but a little slower - so I can see how during peak hours, others might think service is poor. Although, I wouldn't say poor because all of the servers were rather cheerful and happy to serve.

I will be back and bring more with me!


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