by guest blogger, Rich Baringer,
As you walk into the Karlton Café, you’ll notice some classic theater posters from a Quakertown movie house back in the day. The café takes its name from the Karlton Theater, which was in the same building where the café currently resides.
Things have changed a bit since my dad worked at the theater as a teenager. The menu here is a far cry from popcorn and Jujubes. You’ll find a lot to satisfy your hunger these days.
The Karlton Café has a casual, relaxed vibe. Other than the posters, when you enter the cafe, you’ll notice the open kitchen across from a wall full of pizza sculptures by Quakertown artist, Steve Tobin. I enjoyed lunch at the row of tables looking across at the busy kitchen. But you can also eat al fresco at sidewalk tables if the weather’s nice or in the back dining room for a quieter meal.
Chef/owner AJ Buehrer owns the café with his wife, Amanda. His mom, who is “retired,” makes all of the “Mom-Made Desserts” offered each day.
AJ grew up in the Quakertown area and was raised in the food life. Both parents worked in the restaurant business and eventually started an organic farm that supplied high-end restaurants all over the East Coast with produce and meats. AJ’s father was one of the first in the country to popularize microgreens and other now-trendy ingredients in restaurants. AJ not only grew to understand the importance of quality produce, but also learned to enjoy butchering. He butchers much of what he serves in the café
Chef AJ travels to South Philadelphia to buy top-quality proteins and produce to serve at the Karlton. He’s also eager to work with local farms. It depends on his needs at the time. His bottom line is that he is dedicated to serving quality ingredients prepared from scratch. The menu makes that clear.
The Karlton serves breakfast and lunch every day, dinner on Thursday, Friday and Saturday nights and a Sunday brunch. AJ has recently changed and expanded his menu—and it’s one of those menus that will take you some time to decide on what to order.
Breakfast offerings include omelets, egg dishes and creamed chipped beef. Most popular for breakfast are the Benedicts. You can choose from pork chop, beef filet, wild mushroom or roasted pepper Benedicts, all with house-made Hollandaise sauce.
The lunch menu includes salads and an array of sandwiches. For lunch, though, AJ’s soups are the big hit. He makes 6 homemade soups each day and you can enjoy them by themselves or with a sandwich or salad. For those who are indecisive (like me), he offers a Soup Trio—a tasting of 3 different soups. I love that. You can also get soup to go. I didn’t get the soup, but did have a very tasty BBQ shrimp Po’Boy with a fresh-made blueberry lemonade.
For dinner, you can choose from a number of beef, chicken, seafood, pork or vegetarian dishes. Specials are offered throughout the day as well. To keep things on the menu changing, AJ offers special themes each month—July is “Crab Fest”—where the menu features dishes using that month’s theme ingredient.
If you’re having an event or party, AJ can do that too. His Live Fire Grille brings all the café’s top-notch ingredients to your place and will cook it all there for you. You can choose from themes like a Fajita Party, Surf & Turf, or Shish Kabob, orr come up with your own idea.
To me, the Karlton Café is the kind of place we need more of. Quality ingredients prepared in a way that emphasizes their flavor. A creative and unique menu. A fun, relaxed place to spend some time enjoying good food. And a chef who understands and has a passion for great food. The Karlton Café is definitely worth a visit!