I first came to Champaign-Urbana a decade ago for a campus visit after I had been accepted to graduate school here. As is customary, my future department hosted me throughout the day, and the visit concluded with dinner at The Bread Company, where I ordered the fried goat cheese croquettes. I’m not going to say that the goat cheese is what convinced me to move from New York City to the middle of Illinois — but it definitely helped.
This review is not a first-time impression; there are no new-to-me foods. I’m sure Bread Company has changed their menu throughout the years, but I wouldn’t know. I always get the goat cheese. Think of this as less of a review and more of a celebration of what Bread Co. does best: bread and cheese, in all its forms.
When my husband and I are celebrating, we have three go-to restaurants: Nando Milano, Sun Singer, and the Bread Company. Bread Co. may not strike people as a celebration-type of restaurant. They no longer have traditional waiter service; diners order food at the counter and someone brings it to the table. Diners get their own water, and the silverware is in buckets on the table. Some dishes, including the beloved fried goat cheese, is served in paper trays. Clearly, an entirely different vibe than, say, Nando, but we swap them out equally for birthdays and anniversaries. The food is just that good.
On this outing, we ordered two small plates: fried goat cheese croquettes and baked goat cheese. A year or so ago on another date, we only ordered one goat cheese appetizer, and about five minutes after the first arrived, I made my husband go and order the other — and we’ve been ordering both ever since. I know what you may be thinking, “No one needs two goat cheese appetizers.” But they work so well together.
The fried goat cheese croquettes ($8) were, honestly, heaven. They bread fluffy goat cheese, fry it in little balls, put them in a serving tray with honey, and serve with slices of bread and fresh strawberries. They are probably my favorite things to eat in all of C-U. They were sweet, delicious, and work just as well as a dessert as a way to start your meal.
The baked goat cheese ($9.50) was served in a little ceramic pot filled with marinara with the cheese on top and a Tuscan basil sauce. This was served with the same bread as the croquettes, which was a simple small white loaf sliced in reasonably thin slices. Because one was savory and one was sweet, they just balanced each other out perfectly. I typically do treat them as appetizers, but I always save one bite of each for the end of the meal.
Although I normally get the crab cake salad, I decided to get a pizza on this occasion to keep with my cheese and bread theme, which I’ve had before but not in a long time. For our mains, we ordered the traditional pepperoni pizza ($15) and the pesto pizza ($17).
Their pizzas are thin crust — and yes, I did dip the crust in the baked goat cheese, and yes, it was also amazing. The pesto pizza was topped with thick slices of brie and artichokes. The pizza usually has mushrooms as well, but my husband does not eat them, so he ordered it without. While he thought the brie should have been sliced thinner, overall, it just wasn’t a winning combination for him. He was more curious than excited when he ordered it on a whim, so take his disappointment with a grain of salt.
The pepperoni pizza was very good. The pepperoni were tiny, so they didn’t overwhelm the thin crust. The pizza also had a surprising, but welcome, kick to it. I assume it came from the pepperoni, but it helped add interest and really took the pizza to the next level as a more interesting taste.
Although this is a dinner menu review, I would be remiss to mention that Bread Co. also has one of the best breakfast sandwiches in town (I mean sandwich in the general sense — they are all amazing). I recently came for lunch for the first time in a while, so in that case I did try something new (to me): the grilled chicken sandwich, and I haven’t stopped thinking about it since. In fact, by the time this review is published, I will probably have gone back to order it again.
The vibe of Bread Co. is cozy and relaxed, and for me, it will always hold nostalgia for my first time in C-U. The food is good and in many cases, exceptional. I do wish they still had waiter service; often your food arrives all together, and sometimes we had to track someone down to get a refill on drinks. But truthfully, I will happily forgive all of that to continue getting this food.
If you haven’t tried the goat cheese, please do, and you may find yourself returning for the next decade for one more bite.
The Bread Company
706 S Goodwin Ave
M 9 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.
Tu-Th 9 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Sa 4 to 9 p.m.