Lisa Chasanov

Review | The Bread Company brings European cuisine to CU

June 9, 2023

The Bread Company truly offers something for everyone. 

Featuring outdoor tables overlooking an idyllic campus street and a dynamic indoor space featuring broody corners and sun-soaked lofted areas, The Bread Company is wonderfully unique. Whatever vibe you envision for your meal, this popular Urbana café will match it. 

The Bread Company’s cozy outdoor setup featuring tables and benches lining Goodwin Avenue make it a popular lunch destination for those residing in Champaign-Urbana over the summer. To escape the crowd, visitors can head inside for a quieter setting.

Iron details and white stucco walls in the restaurant transport visitors to a different reality — one that is unrivaled by any other spot to grab a quick bite on campus.

The aesthetically pleasing kitchen serves breakfast, lunch and dinner, offering diverse menus that cater to various types of visitors.

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    In the mornings, The Bread Company offers inexpensive hot breakfast sandwiches. For lunch, it serves an assortment of cold sandwiches, hot sandwiches, salads and soups. At dinner time, the restaurant presents an eclectic and upscale menu, advertising an emphasis on French and Swiss cuisine. Among other dishes, the restaurant’s well-known raclette vite served with roasted potatoes, gherkin pickles and toasted bread is sure to provide a unique dining experience.

    An adoring public consisting of students, faculty and community members breaks bread together at the same establishment each day, lending a unique sort of life to the space. This energy lends itself to the image of a European town square lined with open air cafés and small yet mighty restaurants.

    Those hoping for a high-end dining experience on the University’s campus can find exactly what they need at The Bread Company — as can those in search of a casual bite or a good cup of coffee.

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    Maaike Niekerk

    The Bread Company’s grilled chicken sandwich and french onion soup

    Grilled chicken sandwich

    A cool and shady corner inside of the restaurant was a nice break from the blindingly sunny weather outside.

    Even during a fairly busy lunch rush, my soup and sandwich were out in a matter of minutes. The wait for my meal wasn’t a long one, but I took the time to admire the space and engage in some light people watching. People did not seem to be in a rush, using their lunchtime as an opportunity to engage socially with one another and savor their food.

    The Bread Company’s grilled chicken sandwich, exclusively a part of the lunch menu, is close to perfection. The mix of chicken with tomatoes, pickles, onion and cheese is mouthwatering from the moment you see it.

    The bread itself does not disappoint either, holding the moist contents of the sandwich together, although just barely. This isn’t a meal where you’ll need a napkin after every bite, but things might get a little messy if you were to order the full sandwich instead of just the half.

    The bacon chipotle aioli used on the sandwich is phenomenal and sets the flavors apart from other local sandwiches. Filling and flavorful, this will definitely be my go-to lunch option at The Bread Company.

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      Lisa Chasanov

      The Bread Company’s french onion soup includes a striking gruyère cheese pull

      French onion soup

      As part of the half-and-half lunch deal at The Bread Company, visitors can mix and match salads, sandwiches and soups.

      Along with the grilled chicken sandwich, I opted to try the french onion soup.

      With my only previous experience trying french onion soup being the preprepared iteration served at ISR, I was excited to dig into The Bread Company’s take on the upscale classic.

      The gourmet soup looked a little bit intimidating at first, topped with an overflown golden brown cheese crust. Upon breaking in, however, the delicious smell of the broth overtook any other assumptions.

      The soup has an amazing savory flavor, complete with no shortage of onions and an entire slice of bread inside. The cheese compliments the broth perfectly, melting the second it enters the bowl.

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        Even though there was an inevitable sogginess to the slice of bread baked into the soup, the flavor trumped any texture aversion. The bread, cheese and onion made a great combination of flavors for an amazing sandwich pairing.

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        Lisa Chasanov

        Veggie sandwich

        As the 2022 Best of CU winner for vegetarian food, The Bread Company’s reputation precedes it. The restaurant’s lunch menu features several vegetarian sandwiches — as well as options that can be made vegan.

        Among these options are the portobello sandwich with brie and raspberry aioli; the pear sandwich with gruyere, walnuts and caramelized onions; the gruyere sandwich with tomato or olive tapenade; and the aptly named “veggie,” which pairs roasted bell peppers with pesto, goat cheese, mixed greens, red onion and tomato.

        The veggie sandwich is served on crusty white bread toasted in butter, which — though nutritionally inefficient — is a recipe for good taste. The veggie sandwich was a texturally satisfying and warm meal that came out quickly and fulfilled a craving for something hearty.

        The creamy, tangy goat cheese mingled with the healthy slathering of herbal pesto to envelop the vegetables — both fresh and grilled — in a plush blanket of rich flavor.

        Roasted bell peppers — which can be mushy and flavorless if left to bake for too long — were a welcome addition to this sandwich, maintaining their shape and natural juiciness through their short bout in the oven. Counteracted by the fresh bite of mixed greens and coarsely cut red onions, the smokiness of the peppers’ charred skin was a welcome note of complexity.

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          As part of The Bread Company’s half-and-half special, any sandwich can be accompanied by a cup of soup-du-jour or a reduced version of a salad. This option allows for greater exploration of the menu, more balanced meals and a more well-rounded restaurant experience.

          As a vegetarian, I found this sandwich to be tasty and filling. Despite the glaring lack of plant based protein on the menu at The Bread Company, there is reason to come to this restaurant for well made dishes made from high-quality whole foods.

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          Lisa Chasanov

          Lemon garlic salad

          On their lunch menu, The Bread Company offers four salads: house, pear, strawberry and lemon garlic. Each salad comes standard with pre-selected toppings and dressings, indicating that the curation of these dishes was a matter of care and effort.

          The lemon garlic salad was light, refreshing and well executed. It featured, salty, briny capers alongside thinly sliced tomatoes and shallots. The base of the salad was seemingly a leafy green mix that had a fresh, peppery bite to it — tossed in a savory lemon garlic vinaigrette.

          For those who are concerned with the quality of ingredients used in The Bread Company’s food, do not worry — this is the real thing. A salad from The Bread Company is sure to come standard with high-quality produce and a satisfying concept.

          Although many salads with lemon as a central flavor note are sweet and one-dimensional, this salad was delectably harmonious and savory while maintaining the refreshing quality of a traditional lemon salad.

          The lemon garlic salad from The Bread Company may have been my favorite salad that I have tried on campus. It exuded summer with each bite and paired with the veggie sandwich superbly.

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            The one downfall of the half-and-half combo at The Bread Company is the price. A cold sandwich is the most budget-friendly and time efficient option on the lunch menu, but for those hoping to have a slightly more curated experience, variety comes at a price.

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