If you’ve been in C-U for more than a handful of days, undoubtedly someone has told you to go get breakfast at Courier Café, or you’ve already done so. Courier is the quintessential breakfast spot in C-U; it might be the standard by which we measure all other C-U breakfasts. Courier hasn’t offered breakfast on a Restaurant Week menu since way back when each town had its own RW. I think the addition of breakfast or brunch is not only appropriate, but also a welcome option for the weeklong event.
Courier’s RW breakfast menu includes your choice of beverage, one of three entrée options, and a side of fruit or biscuits and gravy for $12. Normally this combo will cost you about $13, so you’re not saving much money, but the bundle package provides an easy excuse to have breakfast out and order the whole spread.
On Monday my husband and I made our way to Courier, expecting it to be pretty empty. The restaurant was about a third full, and not just with retirees. There were still plenty of tables, so we didn’t have to wait. We knew exactly what we wanted. We are a cake and eggers household, and though I thought about ordering something different for the sake of this article, I couldn’t. I promise you though, if you select the Denver omelette or the Courier breakfast, you will not be disappointed.
The spouse’s RW order was hot tea, eggs scrambled, sausage patties, buttermilk pancakes, and fruit. My order was orange juice, eggs over medium, sausage links, buckwheat pancakes, and fruit. The truth, dear reader, is that I do not particularly care for biscuits and gravy and thus did not want to order it for just one or two bites. Plus, I think it would have been way too much food, though if you were sharing with someone else, it would be fine.
Service was quick — our drinks and fruit salads arrived immediately. The fruit salad was a generous serving, and full of all sorts of fresh looking and tasting fruits. It wasn’t over laden with pineapple; the berries and bananas were excellent. Paired with my orange juice, I felt full of healthy bits and minerals and vitamins and a little smug with my seemingly healthy choices. Of course, I knew that I was about to slather a bunch of butter on my pancakes, and consume every last bite, so I was hoping that my fruit appetizer would at least balance out the sugary carb-fest ahead.
The rest of our meals arrived and the table was crowded with plates, a feast set before us all before 10 a.m. on a Monday morning. I always order my eggs over medium; I don’t like runny whites. It’s a rare occasion when my eggs actually arrive to the table at over medium — more often than not they are over or under cooked. These eggs arrived perfectly cooked, with firm whites and viscous, runny yolks. The sausage links were much better than the sausage patties. The real reason we order the cake and eggers is for the cake — the pancakes. His buttermilk pancakes were perfectly fluffy and tender. My buckwheat pancakes were nutty and a little sweet, and so, so good. They’re crazy filling, and combined with the fruit salad, the eggs, and the sausage, I was so full that I almost didn’t finish them. But I thought that might be a crime against humanity, so I pushed through the fullness and polished them off. There’s something so magical about salted butter on pancakes, and I wasn’t going to waste an opportunity to indulge.
The only thing I don’t love about Courier’s breakfast is the faple syrup — that is, the fake maple syrup. I’d willingly pay the up charge for real maple syrup because it’s totally worth it. Fake syrup is just not that great, and the cloying artificial sweetness takes away from the absolute deliciousness of the pancakes. This is not a Courier-specific problem; very few breakfast spots in town have real maple syrup.
Perhaps needless to say, the spouse and I left Courier Monday morning feeling more than satisfied and uncomfortably full from our breakfast. Surprisingly, I managed to get some work done later that day, despite wanting to crawl straight into my bed to slip into a food-induced coma.
Courier Café is also offering lunch and dinner RW menus, and both are good deals with several options. I’m contemplating heading back for another meal this week. Courier Café isn’t going to wow with off the wall specials or fancy dishes. It’s a cozy restaurant with consistent and comfortable food and prices.
Visit Champaign County’s Restaurant Week continues through February 2nd.
111 N Race St
Su-F 7 a.m. to 11 p.m.
F + Sa 7 a.m. to midnight
Note: Courier Café is closed on Wednesday, January 30th.
Photos by Jessica Hammie