A longstanding breakfast option for Champaign-Urbana residents, Le Peep offers all of the classic breakfast fare, but also a variety of unique and healthy options. Before heading back to the Chicago area for winter break, I decided to treat myself and some friends to a big breakfast spread to celebrate the end of another semester.
As far as breakfast places go, Le Peep has a casual and pleasant atmosphere with homey décor. When we arrived at the restaurant, it was quite busy. This was not surprising considering it was 11 a.m. — brunch time — on a Friday. Despite the small entrance way and jumble of people waiting to be helped, we were seated quickly at a spacious table. I decided to start with a small mocha, mostly because I wanted to try the coffee but can only do coffee if it has chocolate in it. It was smooth, chocolaty, and piping hot; just how I like it. It was a bit small for the price ($2.89), but the pretty whip cream finish made up for it.
I sipped on my coffee while perusing the menu, and was pleasantly surprised with the variety of healthy choices offered. I had just completed a 6-mile run, and was more than ready to refuel with a hearty mixture of carbs, protein, and fats. I decided on an omelet from the “Lite Way” menu, which features dishes prepared with egg whites and a lighter portion of cheese. I chose the Garden Omelet ($7.89), which came with peasant potatoes and a dry whole-wheat English muffin. I also opted for a side dish: the LeFresh Fruit Bowl ($6.09), to pack in some extra nutrients.
Despite the somewhat busy restaurant, our food arrived quickly. The omelet was huge and colorful, and the roasted potatoes smelled incredible. Needless to say, I was more than ready to dig in. The omelet was light, fluffy and chock-full of broccoli, tomatoes, green peppers, onions, and combo cheese. The English muffin was nicely toasted, and paired well with a slather of grape jelly chosen from an assortment on the table. The peasant potatoes were nicely seasoned without being overly salty. The potatoes came with almost every main dish on the menu. I’m not a fan of traditional hash browns, but these were more like roasted potatoes; light and slightly crisp on the outside while remaining tender on the inside. They really hit the spot, providing a good source of complex carbohydrates without feeling greasy.
The fruit bowl made a sweet and refreshing accompaniment to my entrée. It was a bit on the pricey side, but had a good combination of grapes, sliced strawberries, and melon. It was topped with a thick strawberry yogurt and a sprinkle of walnuts, providing a good dose of calcium and some healthy fats in addition to my protein-packed meal.
My companions ordered the Salmon Benedict ($9.39) and Lumberjack Breakfast ($8.49), and they did not disappoint. The benedict was beautifully presented, with two perfectly poached eggs smothered in hollandaise sauce, all atop an English muffin. The dish came with the peasant potatoes and “Mom’s Sassy Apples”. My boyfriend really enjoyed the combination of salty fish, rich hollandaise, and thick cream cheese. He said the ‘sassy apples’ were fine, but nothing outstanding — not fully meshing with the other flavors of the dish. However, he did like that they were warm and cinnamon-y, giving off the aroma of fresh baked apple pie.
The Lumberjack breakfast was complete with eggs, bacon, peasant potatoes and a short stack of pancakes. A classic breakfast combination that my friend said was as visually appealing as it was satisfying. He described the bacon as crispy but not overcooked, and said the scrambled eggs were comparable to any standard breakfast place — on par, but nothing exceptional. Because pancakes are one of my favorite foods of all time, my friend let me sample some of his. We both agreed that the cakes were the real star of the meal: light, fluffy, buttery, and delicious. For a ‘small’ stack, the portion was pretty generous, and we both took advantage of the warm syrup that the waitress brought to the table.
Overall, we were pleased with the generous portion sizes and wide range of breakfast options. Le Peep makes it easy for the health-conscious eater to get a wholesome and nutritious meal, but is just as friendly for those looking to indulge. They have everything from the regular omelets and breakfast platters to fancy crepes, pancakes, waffles and French toast. They even feature a ‘South of the Border’ section with breakfast burritos and huevos rancheros, as well as lunch options like salads, sandwiches, and burgers. If you’re on a college budget, Le Peep is more of a ‘treat-yourself’ place than a weekly breakfast staple. However, the food is of high quality, and I now know exactly where to go the next time I have a hankering for pancakes.
Le Peep is located at 2209 South Neil Street in Champaign, and open Monday through Friday, 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m., and Saturday and Sunday 7 a.m. to 2 p.m.
All photos by Carly Prais.