[UPDATE: The Blue Sky Cafe has closed and been replaced by Roasted.]
Blue Sky Cafe (Facebook)
22 W. Fourth St. (map it!)
Bethlehem, PA 18015
Open Tues-Thurs, 7 am – 3 pm; Fri & Sat, 7 am – 5 pm; Sun, 7 am – 2 pm
Accepts cash & credit/debit
Vegetarian/vegan/gluten free? Y/N/N
Kid friendly? Y
Date of Visit: Saturday, November 6, 2010 at 10:15 a.m.
IMPRESSIONS: I’ve been excited to share this post for a long time. We got to visit some amazing places in 2010 – across the country from New York City to Portland – but for some reason our little visit to the Blue Sky Cafe sticks in my head more than any other. I’m sure I’m idealizing the experience in my memory, but boy, was this a great little discovery.
Early November found us traveling with my wife’s family across New Jersey and Pennsylvania to visit family. Eastbound and entering Pennsylvania, we did some online searching and found a promising lead with the Blue Sky Cafe in Bethlehem. We snaked off the highway exit, winding down to the small valley that is Bethlehem. Here I recalled some high school history classes and saw the remainders of Bethlehem Steel firsthand. Now the center of Bethlehem holds the remnants of that once-great industry, part of which is converted into a casino. Blue Sky can be found in southern slope of the valley, in a small, cute little downtown street. The door is small, the restaurant space old.
ATMOSPHERE: I love love love the feel of cafes like this. It’s small but not crammed. Great feel of a reclaimed old building, with brick walls, checkered floors, bright lighting.
Very busy hum of conversation, as a steady crowd comes and goes. Work from local artists and photographers on the walls.
A skylight above the kitchen allows a lot of natural light in the back. I counted 11 tables, plus 4 booths and 8 seats at the counter.
Lots of kooky details in the kitchen, including the bottle of bourbon for your bourbon banana french toast.
FOOD: Blue Sky’s menu, too, is fun and creative. All of the dishes are at those standard “cafe” prices: maybe $1-2 more than diner food, but the increased price is made up with higher quality fair. The menu is packed with your standard egg combos, plus omelets, frittatas, stirs (made over home fries), sandwiches, sweets, and a whole load of specials. Pictured above is the Mega Breakfast Sandwich, stacked with scrambled eggs, avocados, tomatoes, onions, and pesto. Came with a side of home fries. Overall, very good, although overpowered by the onions. I think the sandwich would be tops without them, personally.
And then, behold, is the Bourbon Banana French Toast. This is kinda why Blue Sky proved itself to be such a surprising and delightful find. Seriously, I think it’s the best French toast I’ve had. The bread was nice and custardy, the bananas cooked without being mushy, and the covering is more of a reduction with the maple syrup and the bourbon. It’s thicker and almost crispy, like that thin sugary glaze on a glazed donut. Altogether, a great dish. I just wanted to keep eating it forever.
Because we’re close to Philly, there’s gotta be scrapple! My second time trying it. Not bad, soft and spicy, but I’m just not a scrapple man.
Some Pumpkin Pancakes. Fluffy and subtle, a little floury and gummy. Quite good.
Their specialty frittata of the day, with caramelized onions, pears, feta, shallots, and sausage. Really magnificent.
The Jon Solomon’s Veggie Stir. Lots of veggies served with scrambled eggs over home fries, side of toast.
Another Mega Sandwich.
More pumpkin pancakes. We had a big group.
And the Antonio Veggie Stir. Adds sausage to the veggies and feta.Notice the color in all the breakfast dishes!
SERVICE: Our server really made our experience great, too. For the life of me, I can’t remember her name, although she told us she had recently moved from St. Louis, I believe. But she was warm and smiley, she handled our large group smoothly, and you could tell she took pride in the restaurant.
The table setup, too, made the experience complete: Cholula hot sauce at the table, mini salt and pepper grinders. The coffee came in mismatched mugs, and our server automatically brought milk for it.
OVERALL: Part of me wishes I could find a way back out to Bethlehem again, just to go here. It was such a delightful find and we enjoyed some wonderful food and service. Blue Sky would be my regular joint if I lived in Bethlehem.
NOTE: From the time between when I wrote the post and the time I finished it, Blue Sky changed their website. You can still find bits of the old version, which looks cooler and fits their vibe better. The new one is simpler and clunkier. Not sure what happened, but I hope they redesign to something more like the old one.