Today the Reading Eagle did a nice piece on Van’s Cafe, the new Vietnamese restaurant in West Reading, so we had to go there for lunch to try it for the first time. For those who are familiar with West Reading, Van’s is occupying the same space as the former Fire and Ice Cafe. The place is casual, the decor minimal, but clean.
I hope I can give it a fair review because my main thought about Van’s is that they won’t win any prizes for speed. We went on our lunch hour, which was a mistake — don’t go there unless you are under no time constraints. After sitting at the table for about 15 minutes we went to the counter to order. I still don’t know if that is how you are supposed to do things there; some people did have a waiter come to take their order, but we and others went to the counter. No one greeted us, seated us, or told us what to do (a simple sign “Please place your order at the counter” would have been helpful).
The food was very good and fresh. They had a few vegetarian options. We both ordered the Vegetarian Spring Rolls and Vegetarian Rice Noodle Soup (huge bowls) called Pho. I don’t think the soup broth was vegetarian, however. Service was very slow and disorganized. (I could see my husband’s blood pressure rising by the minute). Our appetizer came out after the noodle bowls, and I don’t think we would have gotten it at all if we didn’t remind the server. We were missing a set of silverware and had to hunt one down ourselves. No one came to freshen our ice teas or offer water. As we ate we saw people leaving and more coming in and standing waiting to be seated. Tables weren’t cleared as new orders were coming out and there was nowhere to put them or to seat the people who were waiting for a clean table — Did I mention that the service was SLOW?
Prices at Van’s are all under $10.00, and the food is good. Convenient parking is available in the rear. I am hoping that this was not a typical lunchtime at Van’s, and that they were just having an off day. I would love to go back to sample their bubble tea, but I know my husband won’t be going next time. With some people you don’t get a second chance.