Monday, February 7, 2011

New dining experience - The Bread Company

After a long week we decided to go out for dinner last night.  Being in a new city for over a month now, I decided it was time to check out the dining scene in Champaign.  After several failed attempts (who knew they close restaurants for the Superbowl) we found an open spot - The Bread Company.  This restaurant praises itself to be an authentic swiss bakery.  Well, having lived in Switzerland, I think not.  Their menu is not very typical Swiss - okay there are a few items such as fondue, raclette, and some pâté (which they list as mousse) which are traditional Swiss dishes, however, the majority of the menu is fairly standard American fare.  I'm also very fond of Swiss breads - yeasty, semi-soft in the center with a hard shell.  Oh how I miss the pain noir (my absolute favorite brown bread that I cannot find anywhere else except for the little boulangerie, Jacquet). 
Perhaps it was an off night, or perhaps the bread is just not up to par, whichever the case, a plate of sliced white bread arrived which was stale, and similar to a brittle piece of cardboard which had been sitting in the sun for too long.  With that we tried to keep an open mind, and decided to go with a starter to share and an entrée each.  Our starter, braised leeks wrapped in mozzeralla and prosciutto (pictured above), arrived cold, limp and oily.  A half of one leek leaf that seemed to have been cooked hours in advance, lay wrapped in a small piece of mozzeralla and soggy prociutto.  Needless to say I was not a fan.  Moving on to the entrees, we each ordered a special: Shrimp and scallop fettucine and pear/gorgonzola/mozzeralla/walnut pizza.  At first glance, the pizza looked fairly good except for the fact that they neglected to top the outer third of the dough.  The first bite offered a punch of blue cheese and a large crunch of walnut (I forgot to mention that the walnuts were left whole and slightly scorched).  As I continued into the next few mouthfuls, there was no balance to carry the sting of the gorgonzola.  The pears were skeletal in comparison to the other ingredients, and the mozzeralla was lost in the mix.  Hungery for something mouth-watering, I swirled some fettucine onto my fork along with a sun-dried tomatoe and slice of scallop.  This did not help my cause; the scallops were overcooked, and the sauce was runny and bland. Memories of Olive Garden began to flood in, and I returned for one more attempt at the pizza. 
Well, my second dining experience here was not so great, but hope it can only get better.  In the meantime, I think I'll be back in my own kitchen this week.

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