Every day around 10:30 a.m., there's a long debate that happens between my brain and my stomach: what and where to go to eat today? But the debate is not only between my brain and stomach, since then my husband and I always struggle with where to go for lunch. It's probably a very common problem for people to run into: What place can we sit down and dine-in at, yet avoid crazy lunch hour waits? What food haven't we tasted in this town? Why am I waiting for a table to eat at a salad bar?
And yesterday at 11:50 a.m., it was settled. To Bevier Café we go!
How I had not heard of the Bevier Café, especially since I also just dined at the Spice Box the previous Friday, is quite amazing for someone who loves to eat and practically lick the plate clean. Located in Bevier Hall at 905 S. Goodwin Ave. in Urbana, the Café is on the newly remodeled second floor of the '50s-era building and looks like a school cafeteria, but it's a real culinary delight. No, after yesterday's lunch, I would say the Bevier Café might be one of the most underrated dining options in Champaign-Urbana.
Bevier Café is a student-run restaurant which uses fresh ingredients and products from local farms (today's lamb and hard boiled eggs were provided by County Cottage Farm Lab in Fisher, Ill.) and businesses (the bacon provided by the U of I's Meat Sales Room). Before you find yourself making a last minute lunch decision and eating a nasty Big Mac, the menu is also posted on their website a week in advance, so you can pick and choose which days you'd like to dine and you can dream about the meal you'll feast on at the Café.
To my knowledge, it is the junior-level "Food Production and Service" college course that runs Bevier Café, and might I add, they do a damn fine job. But I'm not here to give you a background on the Café; I'm here to show you the real treats we scored for under $20 for two people. For the price we paid, there was a ridiculous amount of food in front of us. I can't really give a grand food critique because I'm not a food snob. I just like to eat good food and my motto is: if it looks delicious in a photograph, it usually is delicious.
So here goes, the food was brought out to us and I was ready to dig in:
A well-sauced hearty chicken lasagna with spinach-infused ricotta cheese for $4.50.
A perfectly seasoned French style stew — cassoulet — with white beans, andouille sausage and locally raised lamb in a tomato-based sauce for $5.00, which I found to be the best dish for the price.
An extraordinarily affordable and fresh house salad with mixed greens, shaved carrots and thick slices of tomatoes and cucumbers for $2.00.
One side of steamed cauliflower and also a side of steamed peas with fennel and bacon for a whopping fifty cents apiece.
And finally, for dessert: a simple, but not too sweet blackberry, strawberry, and raspberry fruit cobbler topped with a toasted biscuit for $2.00.
Here we have the end result. I, indeed, cleaned all of my plates mom:
My favorite part of the Bevier Café experience was not only the quick line, fresh and savory food, but also, the conveyor belt to bus your own table. Watch the video:
Unfortunately, this delightful meal is not available today. But I have checked out the other dishes for today and man oh man, I could already chow down on some Irish pork stew or veggie chili in a bread bowl and finish it off with a slice of cheesecake. Perhaps I'll see you at the Café at noon?
The Bevier Café is open Monday through Friday for a continental breakfast 8 a.m. to 11 a.m. and reopen for lunch starting at 11:30 a.m. (supposedly there have been long lines to get in, but we waited less than two minutes to order) and they close-up shop at 1 p.m.