Your daily bread
Homestyle baked goods and lunches at new industrial-park cafe
Country Morning Bakery & Café2625 Aztec Dr.
Chico, CA 95928
Taste and see that the Lord is good. Oh the joys of those that trust in him. —Psalm 34:8, quoted on the Web site Mennonite Girls Can Cook.
Country Morning Bakery & Café lies smack-dab in the middle of the Hegan Lane industrial-park neighborhood that also houses UPS, Wizard Graphics Inc., and a maker of flight-simulation components called Flight Link.
It’s not exactly Restaurant Row.
But Country Morning—the only restaurant in the immediate vicinity—certainly seems to be gaining a reputation for its fresh, hearty, homestyle cooking. I had been tipped off about the goodness of the café’s baked goods—fresh breads, pies, cookies and muffins—and just had to try them, sucker that I am for home-baked deliciousness.
I discovered, on two lunchtime visits, just why people are willing to make the drive out to the cozy Mennonite-run restaurant, which opened in mid-November 2009.
It’s most definitely the food.
I first arrived at Country Morning with my lunch date, David, on a weekday at about 12:30 p.m. The dining room was busy with a mixture of what appeared to be laborers, businesswomen and farmers. The sound of their happy chit-chat was audible over the silence of no overhead music.
Behind the counter, in the open kitchen, bustled three women with tidy, below-the-knee dresses and hair swept up beneath neat, black head-coverings. The women, and one bearded man, shared the duties of taking orders and quietly preparing each meal.
I ordered a hot ham-and-cheddar-cheese sandwich on a house-baked, wheat Sandwich Butterhorn bread ($5.29), a cup of chicken noodle soup ($3.29) and a cup of hot tea ($1.49). I threw in a cinnamon roll ($1.99) for good measure—a nice, sweet snack, to nibble on while I waited for my lunch.
David went with a grilled Swiss cheese on wheat ($2.99), a cup of fresh chili ($3.29) and a streusel-topped blueberry muffin ($.99).
Other sandwich choices included a club ($5.49), a chicken fajita panini ($6.29) and an open-faced pizza sandwich ($5.29).
My name was called in short order, and I retrieved our lunch at the counter and went back to our wooden table and chairs which, like the others in the room, resembled those in a family dining room. On a nearby corner table sat an offering of Christian brochures. On one far wall, near a kids’ table with little chairs, hung a plaque quietly proclaiming the goodness of God; another wall sign heartily welcomed patrons as though they were family or treasured friends.
The slices of bread making up David’s sandwich were thick—just short of Texas-toast-sized—and the melted cheese, when he took a bite, stretched out in a delicious-looking, gooey strand, making me want to take a bite, too. The bread of his sandwich, like my Butterhorn, had that immensely satisfying taste of yeast that one finds in home-baked bread.
My sandwich was also very good—the salty tang of the thinly sliced layers of ham, and the flavor of the good-quality cheddar was nicely compatible with the down-to-earth bread. My soup, like David’s meaty chili, was stellar—home-cooking at its best. The wide egg noodles, sizeable, soft chunks of white-meat chicken and bits of fresh parsley commingled happily both in the flavorful broth and in my mouth.
The cinnamon roll and muffin were also excellent, which is why I went back two days later (finding another packed dining room) for another muffin, this time a pineapple-cottage cheese one, also divine. The homemade mixed-berry pie ($10.75) I purchased on that second visit to take home for dessert after dinner that night was equally top-notch.
In a nutshell, in a modern-day food landscape dominated by fast-food rubbish loaded with packaged sauces, preservatives and inferior ingredients, Country Morning’s wholesome food is truly a breath of fresh air.