Good country cooking is becoming ever more scarce in eastern Pennsylvania Amish country. We keep searching but the results have been lukewarm at best. Schwalm’s feels right but, based on a first visit, we’re just not yet convinced. There were decent things to eat (in a couple of cases, more than decent), but most of what we tried, while all perfectly edible, was simply standard issue luncheonette food.
The eatery, larger than it appears from the street, was packed on a Friday night with what appeared to be regulars, mostly in their 50s through 80s. We took that as an encouraging sign. Our waitress was a sweetheart, eager to please.
The menu, while not by any means Amish, has a nice sprinkling of local Pennsylvania favorites, and you’d do well to choose the two regional sides, potato filling (mashed potatoes seasoned and bulked up with bread) and pepper hash (a crisp and refreshing sweet-and-sour chopped cabbage slaw). The fresh sausage entree, with a menu warning that it’ll take 20 minutes, was dry and overcooked, leaving the normally mild-tasting sausage almost void of flavor.
Cakes are displayed along the counter as you enter. They also boast an enormous roster of pies. A slice of coconut cake was sweet and fresh and enough for two, while our shoofly pie was middling, too light on the crumbs, and flavor. Further exploration is surely necessary.
Here’s what needs to be done: further menu exploration. We suspect that there are enough winners on the menu to put together a recommended eating plan for a visit. We just can’t quite do that yet, from one visit.213 East Penn Avenue Cleona PA 17042 717-274-9942
BEST THING TO EAT: Potato filling