In June ownership of The Bread Company on Goodwin was passed from parents to child, when Scott and Ruth Aikman stepped down to make space for their son Derrick Aikman. The Bread Company on Goodwin has been open for over thirty years; that’s no small feat. In recent years, The Bread Co. has offered good food, but has garnered quite the reputation for incredibly poor service. Until this summer, they offered a pretty decent menu of vegetarian and vegan options (we’ll revisit that topic in a future article). When the ownership shifted, the menu was refined, and those items were removed. I had dinner there in August, and as expected, the food was good, but the service was poor, at best. I haven’t been back for dinner since, but two weeks ago, a friend and I opted to give brunch a try.
We got to the restaurant shortly after noon, and were quite surprised to see an empty restaurant. There was one table occupied by a couple. One table. We were immediately greeted and seated. The waitress was friendly and asked us if we wanted to sit next to the fireplace. The ambiance was lovely. The restaurant was quiet, the fireplace was warm and rustic, and because it wasn’t busy in the slightest, we felt pretty relaxed to take our time and look over the menu.
The brunch menu includes quiche Lorraine ($8), sweet and savory crepes ($7.50 and $9.50, respectively), omelettes ($8), and house specialties, which include eggs with toast, smoked salmon, crab cakes, fried and baked goat cheese, bruschetta, falafel, and French onion soup ($4.50-$8). Six different brunch cocktails are available, too, and are five or six dollars. The one page menu is carefully curated, and offers a variety of options for brunch diners. The European-inspired flavors and ingredients are consistent across their lunch and dinner offerings.
A sucker for cheese and sweets, I opted for the lemon ricotta crepes. The sweet crepes are served with a small fruit salad, and a small mixed greens salad. The two crepes were atop each other, drizzled with raspberry sauce, and dusted with powdered sugar. The plate was beautiful and the colors were a light and bright foil to the cold, gray day. The greens were lightly dressed with a raspberry balsamic dressing, and provided some crisp refreshment to the ricotta filled pancake. The fruit salad was comprised of fresh strawberries and green apples; they had clearly just been cut and placed on the plate, as neither showed any signs of oxidation. While the strawberries weren’t as sweet and delicious as those you’ll have this summer, they were as tasty as could be considering it’s the dead of winter.
The crepes were thin and light, and were in no way chewy or rubbery. The ricotta filling was lightly lemony and sweet, without being too thick or too saccharine. Because ricotta is such a mid cheese it can often be bland and uninteresting, but this ricotta filling was the right balance of sweet and lemony, and a lovely, smooth, creamy consistency. I found the raspberry drizzle to be unnecessary for flavor, but a ripe, bright color that brought the composition together visually. The crepes were lukewarm; I would have preferred them to be a bit warmer, but given how the cheese would melt and make a runny dairy mess on my plate, I understand why they weren’t served piping hot. On such a cold day I’d have liked a warmer plate of food, but I could have ordered soup, so really I have little grounds for complaints.
My friend ordered the day’s special savory crepes: ham and cheese baked crepes with asparagus and Mornay sauce. Her two crepes arrived wrapped around the asparagus stalks, with ham and Mornay folded in. There was also some Mornay sauce on top. The cheese sauce was rich and flavorful, with enough creaminess and pepper to foil the saltiness of the cheese. The asparagus was crisp and added an impressive crunch to the soft components of the rest of the dish. The ham was thinly sliced and perfectly wrapped around the asparagus with the crepe. These crepes had a nice textural balance that was interesting (in a good way!) to eat. Her meal was served with red potatoes and toasted baguette slices. The potatoes were a little under seasoned, but well roasted so that there was a little crunch on the outside.
The savory crepe meals are certainly more substantial to the sweet ones, so if you’re looking for a fulfilling and hearty breakfast, opt for savory. The sweet crepes would make for a nice shared dessert, or sweet accompaniment to a savory option. There will most likely be weekend specials when you visit, so if you don’t see them on board upon entering, be sure to ask about them. One of the specials that toyed with my emotions was the chocolate croissant bread pudding, and I can promise you I will indeed order it on my next visit should it be available.
About that service, then. The service on my visit was wonderful. Our waitress was engaged, helpful, and attentive. Was it because there was only one other occupied table while we were there? Perhaps. But I think our waitress just had a good attitude, and was doing her job well. I’m curious to see how service transpires during a much busier dinner setting, and will definitely give it a go quite soon.
The Bread Company on Goodwin might just be the perfect place to bring your date for a post-Valentine’s Day brunch. You won’t be spending $50-plus per person, you can probably sit near a roaring fireplace, and you can still get a sparkly beverage to clink. Not interested in Valentine’s Day as an excuse? Bring a book or a newspaper, and treat yourself.
The Bread Company on Goodwin is located at 706 South Goodwin Avenue, Urbana, and it open Monday through Thursday, 8 a.m. to 10 p.m., Friday, 8 a.m. to 11 p.m., Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m., and Sunday, 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Brunch is served on the weekends only.