Mirabelle Bakery

(Mirabelle Bakery's Seeded Boule)
Many of my weekends over the past few months have started aboard a southbound train that deposits me 150 miles away from home in Champaign, IL.  Nick returned to finish his last year at the University of Illinois and we have been traveling back and forth to see each other since September.  We weren't particularly thrilled about the prospect of spending time in a central-Illinois college town, but the discovery of Mirabelle Bakery made it all a bit easier.
(Mirabelle Bakery's Onion and Rosemary Foccacia)
The bakery is closed on Sundays, so nearly every Saturday morning we make the half mile walk from Nick's apartment to downtown Urbana.  We stop at Strawberry Fields, the local natural foods store, for coffee and head up the street to wait in the perpetually-crowded storefront of Mirabelle.

(Mirabelle Bakery's Coffee Cake)
We always select something to eat immediately on the park bench outside, and often purchase a loaf of fresh baked bread to accompany our dinner.  I am a glutton for traditional breads, and Mirabelle may have the finest baguettes that I have ever encountered in the United States.

(Mirabelle Bakery's German Chocolate Pastry)
The only complaints I could possibly muster about Mirabelle would be their coffee which is a weak and pedestrian variety tucked away in a self-service corner.  But, I do visit for the breads and pastries and I would not suggest that they turn their attention away from these incredible offerings.

(Mirabelle Bakery's Onion Roll)
My favorite pastry of all is the Mirabelle Bakery Onion Roll.  The roll is soft and buttery, stuffed with poppy seeds, sour cream, red onions and an indescribable, delectable savoriness that makes my mouth water just thinking about it.  If you have occasion to visit Mirabelle Bakery, this would be my first suggestion to sample.

(Mirabelle Bakery's Pesto, Tomato and Goat Cheese Foccacia)
If you have a heartier appetite, their foccacia servings are huge and easily make a meal.  The crumb is chewy and tender and the toppings are always very fresh.

(Mirabelle Bakery's Seeded Boule)
The other two highlights of Champaign-Urbana have been the Blind Pig, a beautiful bar with over 21 taps and Prairie Fruits Farm goat cheese.

(Prairie Fruits Farm Herbes de Provence Goat Cheese)
This locally produced goat cheese can be purchased at Strawberry Fields, and while a bit pricey (about $7 for 6 oz.), it is worth every penny.  We do not have a car available to us, but I am hoping to find a way to make a trip out to the creamery in the spring, if the owners will have me, to see the farm's operation first hand. I often fantasize about making my own goat cheese and it would be fun to see a local example.

While we would both rather be living a normal life back in Chicago, it has been fortifying to find these high-quality, local and affordable establishments in a town with too many trashy sports bars and fast-food chains.  I have to admit that I didn't expect to miss things about Champaign-Urbana, but I will.

For an inside look at Mirabelle Bakery and to learn more about the food in Champaign-Urbana from a well-versed resident, visit the lovely blog Champaign Taste.

127 W. Main
Urbana, IL 61801