Tucked away under Yugo apartments and guest suites in Urbana at the corner of University and Lincoln Avenue, many of you have likely driven right by BakeLab, though likely fewer have had the chance to stop in and see what’s inside. Started in 2021 by Stacy Shi who previously worked at a 2-star Michelin restaurant in New York City, the inventiveness and experience behind the kitchen at BakeLab is exceptional. Being under a large residential building, BakeLab always has at least a few folks having quiet chats or working on their laptops, giving it cozy café vibes despite being near two very busy roads.
There was plenty of indoor seating as well as a new outdoor space with plants and herbs used by BakeLab for drinks and pastries. The menu is constantly updated including the baristas’ specialty drinks, so take your time selecting.
For breakfast, I wanted something warm, so I enjoyed a sunrise croissant ($6.25) outside among the plants. The egg, ham, parmesan cheese, four-cheese blend, and chives all on a flaky croissant made for a decadent start to my day. The outer edge was flaky and buttery, with “meat” (so to speak) of the pastry in the middle with sizable slices of egg and crispy pieces of ham (nearly bacon). Almost like an open-faced breakfast sandwich, the sunrise croissant was great to eat on the go.
Wanting to try the brand-new barista specials, I also ordered a matcha peachy bliss ($6.25) crafted by staff member Michelle. With a matcha latte base, Michelle customized this drink by adding peach juice. Though I wasn’t sure about this combination at first, I was intrigued enough to try it. I was so glad I did! The sweet peach juice left a wonderful fruity aftertaste that blended incredibly well with the bitter matcha and creamy milk.
Breaking into the many desserts I ordered, I ate a fresh blueberry mini bite ($4.25). The tiny sugar crystals on the exterior of the pastry added a wonderful texture. With just enough berries and cream to add flavor but not overwhelm the senses, this was the perfect little treat. Judging by the name, they use whatever fruits are fresh at the time, so keep an eye on these until your favorite fruit rotates into season.
As a big fan of raisins, I couldn’t help but order a pain aux raisins ($5.85). The rum soaked raisins, vanilla cream, and crispy orange glaze lent a variety of subtle flavors to enjoy. For those unsure about the raisins, I can assure you that the rum, vanilla, and orange flavorings balanced out the tartness of the raisins.
And finally, it was time for the chocolate croissant cube ($8). With layer after layer of buttery croissant, this dessert was too much for one person, so I made sure to share. Though a bit messy and difficult to cut, it was worth it. The salted chocolate topping and the rich, flaky croissant all came together well. If you like your chocolate melted, warming up the cube in an oven or microwave is the way to go!
All said and done, I felt a bit spoiled eating these pastries! The variety on offer at BakeLab was something else. Next time you see the sign on Lincoln Avenue, find a spot nearby to park and stop by for carefully crafted treats. Now open on Monday’s as well, it’s easier than ever to make it there. Don’t forget about half-off pastries for the last half hour from 5:30 p.m. to 6 p.m., either!
Oh, and looking for drinks on campus? BakeLab’s partner location BrewLab in Campustown is a great place to visit!
410 N Lincoln Ave
8 a.m. to 6 p.m., daily