Smile Politely

Pekara’s Restaurant Week offerings will leave you satisfied all day long

Champaign-Urbana’s Restaurant Week began this last Friday, with 30 plus restaurants in the area offering specials and limited time only meals. Restaurant Week will be running through this Saturday, February 5th, so you still have plenty of time to get out and try some great new offerings — although this winter storm may delay us a few days. If you’re looking for suggestions, check out our picks here

I decided to make a trip on Saturday to Pekara to try a few of their RW offerings. The bakery and bistro offered three specials: croissant French toast, Pekara salad, and a sriracha pork torta. Each item was priced at $9 and came with sides and a drink.

As I am still being extra cautious with COVID-19, I decided to order pickup and bring the food back home to enjoy. Ordering on Pekara’s website was incredibly easy and quick. I decided to forgo the salad and go for the croissant French toast and the pork torta. I’m glad I did.

I ordered the food around 10-10:30 a.m., thinking my boyfriend and I would split the meals and enjoy a nice brunch. I foolishly thought that since we were splitting the items, we would be able to eat both the French toast and torta in one sitting. Little did we realize how much food we were actually getting — and how filling it was.

Photo by Sean Wilkinson.

Let’s start with the croissant French toast. I adore French toast and any type of croissant, so this felt like an item designed specifically for me. At $9, it was well worth the price. It was essentially a large croissant, sliced in half, and made into French toast. The toast was topped with sweet cream mascarpone, powdered sugar, fresh strawberries, and blueberries, plus maple syrup served on the side. It also came with a choice of a hot drip coffee or an iced tea. Being the coffee fiend that I am, the choice between the two was clear. 

Photo by Sean Wilkinson.

When I tell you that it’s a large croissant, I mean it. My boyfriend and I split the breakfast and could barely make it through, it was so filling. We both really enjoyed the texture of the croissant and thought that it worked very well as a substitute for bread. It didn’t get overly soggy as some french toasts can. The taste of the croissant was perfectly balanced. The strawberries and blueberries added a nice sweet and sour flavor in addition to the sweet maple syrup. Pair that with the sweet cream mascarpone adding a rich, buttery flavor, you’ve got a match made in heaven.

It paired incredibly well with a black coffee, almost bringing out the notes of the coffee. If I had to make one adjustment to the breakfast, I would have preferred just a tinge more cinnamon in the toast. I love a strong hit of cinnamon and the flavor was there, but just ever so slightly — but that’s just me being picky. This croissant would make for a lovely breakfast date dish, split between two people.

Photo by Sean Wilkinson.

Later in the day, when we were hungry again, we tackled the sriracha pork torta. Again, we were shocked at the size of this sandwich. This is a big honkin’ sandwich. It also comes with chips, a pickle, and an iced tea. Consisting of a ciabatta bun layered with sriracha pulled pork, provolone, lettuce, tomato, avocado, and spicy mayo, devouring this sandwich was no easy feat.

At the same time, it was incredibly easy to devour because it was delicious. I am usually not a pork fan, which after this sandwich, I’m thinking is because I haven’t had pork from the right places. The pork was seasoned very well, with a little bit of a kick. You’ll also get a bit of a kick from the sriracha mayo. Sandwiches can be tricky, as it’s very important to get the right ratios of filling and toppings. The ciabatta as a bun was a great choice, as it helped to soak up the sriracha mayo, but yet didn’t get soggy due to the thickness of the bread.

The lettuce added a nice crunch, and the tomato provided a good sweetness. My half of the sandwich didn’t have as much avocado as I was hoping for; my boyfriend mentioned that his half had a good amount, so I think the distribution was off. Despite that, the sandwich was delicious, and I would absolutely get it again if it became a regular menu item — wink wink, Pekara. 

811 W Springfield Ave
W-Sa 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
Sun 8 a.m. to 2 p.m.

Top iimage by Sean Wilkinson.

More Articles