Even from the handsome outside, one can tell it’s warm and tasty inside Bishop Hill Bakery & Eatery. After all, it has its own daily bread menu.
Started in 2005, Jim and Cheri Campbell and son Tom opened the Henry County restaurant in homage to their roots. “On my dad’s side, there are many generations who lived here in Bishop Hill,” Tom says. The tiny town of 128 is a former Swedish colony.
A graduate of the American Baking Institute in Kansas and a veteran of Sara Lee and other food ventures, Tom oversees the baking and kitchen and is joined by his wife Malissa and three of their six children who currently work summers and weekends.
There are two items that will always be found here – Swedish food favorites and consistent availability of those favorites.
“About four years ago, a couple had driven about an hour for lunch and arrived right before 2 p.m. They were so disappointed that we had sold out of the spinach bisque. It sells two-to-one over our other soups. They were fine with it, but I decided then that I didn’t want to run out,” Campbell says.
Beginning with their baked goods and lunch menu, such European favorites as the bisque, Swedish rye and rusks blend right in to offer a tasty addition to the local heritage. It’s worth it to plan sightseeing around town or visiting one of the region’s many festivals. Go to www.bishophill.com to learn more. In the meantime, ponder what will land on your plate.
The daily bread menu is a daily bestsellers menu, Campbell says. There was a day when he did offer more rotating bread choices, but the demand for the favorite ones continued growing. Campbell had to trade the variety for more quantity of the popular sellers. These fresh-from-the-oven delights can also include seasonal favorites.
There’s always Swedish rye bread, which sets itself apart because of its little bit of honey and a lot of molasses. There also are rusks, sometimes called “skorpa.” This version is a twice-baked shortbread, much like biscotti, and comes in cardamom or Swedish almond flavors. The colony white and honey whole wheat breads not only are available through the bakery but also can be found on the restaurant’s sandwich menu.
As for other bakery selections, the case starts the day full of scratch fruit pies, coconut cream pie, cinnamon rolls, chocolate lover’s torte featuring chocolate cake, creamy chocolate mousse topped with a thin chocolate ganache and shaved chocolate. You can also find dems made of buttery, flaky dough with cinnamon, streusel and glazing; lemonberry stacks made with a shortbread crust, lemon cream cheese, lemon custard and a sprinkle of strawberries, raspberries and blueberries. While you’re there, don’t forget to get a blueberry or white chocolate raspberry scone or choose from a wide array of cookies including a Swedish favorite, the ginger molasses pepparkakor.
When the holidays roll around, limpa with its distinctive anise and orange flavors and cardamom braids take center stage.
Campbell doesn’t hesitate when referring his customer’s top picks of spinach bisque and country chicken pie.
There are gallons of spinach bisque on hand every day along with the spinach parmesan bread. The popular chicken pie is the Saturday lunch special.
“Of course, our goal is to sell out of everything five minutes before lunch ends, but it’s not worth it to me to disappoint our customers who visit us for certain dishes. It’s more important to make everyone happy,” he says with a laugh.
The other daily specials run the gamut from The Jonas, an open-faced turkey with lingonberries, on Wednesdays; heavenly ham casserole on Thursdays; The Olof, an open-faced roast beef on Fridays; and Grandma’s ham loaf on Sunday.
If that doesn’t suit you, there are the iconic Swedish meatballs.
Besides the bisque, there is also a broad list of soups that change daily, such as the cream of potato, vegetable beef, or ham and bean.
As for desserts, take a glance in the irresistible bakery display case.