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Bushel & Peck's is Beloit's meeting and eating hub

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By Joan Neeno, Special to The Gazette
July 10, 2014

BELOIT—Friends have been talking up Bushel & Peck's Local Market for several years. Richard and I have stopped in for coffee and a quick perusal of the local foods specialty store, but we've never dined there.

When our friends Patrick and Tim suggested joining them for breakfast and a stroll around the Beloit Farmers Market on a recent Saturday, it seemed like a good opportunity to try a Bushel & Peck breakfast. Our friend Nancy joined us.

More than a grocery store with a restaurant, Bushel & Peck's feels like a community center. The city of Beloit and Downtown Beloit Association remodeled the old Woolworth's building and joined forces to find a tenant that would help revitalize the downtown.

The association runs Beloit's vibrant farmers market. The market's success prompted Jackie Gennett and Rich Horbaczewski of Grass is Greener Gardens, which specializes in organic lamb, to propose a full-service specialty grocery that showcases local producers.

Bushel & Peck's opened in 2008 and serves as a downtown focal point.

As we ate, we noticed a large group of seniors gathering for breakfast and a book club. Young families shared meals and communal tables with older couples. College students mingled at the high-top tables, drinking coffee. The market feels like a popular spot in Madison with the eclectic mix of people and laid-back vibe.

Meanwhile, the specialty store section of Bushel & Peck's was busy with tastings of local products and shoppers adding items to their farmers market bags.

Diners order at the counter, and servers bring the food to the table. We had a hard time finding a table, so the five of us crowded around a high-top table. Fortunately, a larger group left, and we zoomed in to take that table. Be prepared to hover on a Saturday morning; the place is busy.

Bushel & Peck's has daily specials to reflect what's fresh at local farms. Breakfast is served only on weekends. During the week, the market offers both lunch and dinner. Farm-to-table dinners are offered the first Saturday of every month.

Tim and I couldn't resist the goat cheese and kale omelet special ($9.95), which came with toast and nicely crisped chunks of fresh, seasoned potatoes. The mild, creamy goat cheese worked well with the rich, wilted kale. It tasted like summer in Wisconsin.

My husband, Richard, ordered the Farmhouse Benedict with salmon ($8.95). It featured a freshly baked biscuit rather than an English muffin. It was very tasty, although a bit light on the hollandaise sauce. The salmon lox was excellent.

We split another special, the banana bread French toast ($8.95). Thick, battered slices of banana bread covered the plate and were topped by slices of fresh banana. We asked for additional maple syrup although we could have done without. The bread was moist, rich and delicious. Richard thought it was the best banana French toast we've ever had. I thought the taste was great, but I was a bit turned off that it arrived at our table at room temperature.

Nancy ordered the peach syrup French toast ($8.95), another daily special. She was disappointed that the peach in the dish barely made an impression. It tasted like regular French toast, albeit really good regular French toast.

Patrick ordered the farm breakfast tacos—two corn tortillas with scrambled eggs and pico de gallo ($7.95). He said they were excellent.

Bushel & Peck's also has an excellent assortment of coffee, tea and other beverages.

Because it was so busy, our servers were frantic but friendly.

If you are looking for fresh, local and community-focused, you can't do much better in this area than Bushel & Peck's. It's really energizing to see a vision realized so beautifully. Even better, it all tastes really good.



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