First timers dropping inside of Bread Basket prepare themselves for a doughy delight of foreign breads perhaps accompanied with unfamiliar cheeses and well-bodied wines. Loaves of bread, in baskets aside checkout, signify the only hallmarks of a bread shop; otherwise, this standby disguises itself instead as a fast food sit-in restaurant with a walk-up-and-order concept.
When the previous establishment of the same name burned down, owner Lea Stames purchased a printing shop on a sad strip of Belmont Avenue, and lit up the block like a Roman candle with her built-from-the-ground-up display. The eatery, with lines of trees and vast windows inviting heavy traffic, brings a Lakeview look to Belmont-Cragin. Only here, you save a roll of quarters from the hoarding parking meters, utilizing the brightly lit parking lot under surveillance.
As for the menu, Bill Sarikas, Stames' son, helped mom research the prices and plates of any competition within a two-mile radius, ensuring Bread Basket puts out the best products at the best prices. Their focus, Sarikas says, centers on quality food at reasonable prices with an emphasis on freshness. Considering Stames also runs a food sanitation school nearby, you realize this family function isn't all talk.
With that said, bury your face into a monstrous double bacon cheddar burger, made in house ($6.95 with fries). My friend enjoyed her tuna salad on olive bread, taking note of the homey plates used for presentation. The meals, which include pizzas, pastas, salads and sandwiches (with delivery and catering available), take about the time required for this kind of affair. All the while, the staff remains toothy, friendly and eager refilling sodas for the number of police officers, families, dates and friends. These same characters can expect wi-fi and outdoor dining in the near future.
Average cost: <$10
Centerstage Reviewer: David-Anthony Gonzalez