• Baked Beer and Bread Company, 1113 Mound St., Davenport. 563-232-1251, bakedbeerandbreadco.com.
Beginning with its name, fun is what this restaurant is all about. It's located in a former art gallery in the Village of East Davenport, and the creative juices still flow there. Fun also describes Baked's unique combination of everyday foods and the names of menu items.
It appears to be a small restaurant/bakery from the outside, but looks are deceiving. It has seating for more than 100. As you enter, the wonderful smells of the bakery greet you before the hostess can. A real bonus is that if you have to wait for a table, you wait in the bakery rather than the bar. Who says you can't have dessert first?
Playful is the best description of the owners, Bill Sheeder and his fiancée, Stephanie Sellers. Bill met Stephanie, who owned a bakery in LeClaire, Iowa, during a chance encounter while visiting his hometown of Rock Island in 2012 before moving back to the area in 2013.
Over a cup of coffee at a coffee shop on the corner of 11th Street and Jersey Ridge Road, Bill said, "Let me know if you decide to sell; I am definitely interested in buying." Two days later, he found himself the owner. After a couple of months remodeling, he opened his first restaurant, Brew, in October 2014.
Bill's contagious spirit and "no problem" outlook drew Stephanie in. After selling her bakery in LeClaire, she thought she was done with baking. Little did she know it would come calling again. In 2016, Bill approached the owner of an art gallery located a few blocks away from Brew and offered to buy the unique building. Once again, Bill's "can do" spirit led to another venture. After an extensive remodel of the front of the building, Stephanie opened a delightful bakery and coffee shop there that November.
Stephanie dove into the dough with enthusiasm, producing breakfast pastries, cookies, brownies, cupcakes, cakes, bread, buns and rolls. Turning the rest of the art gallery into a full-service restaurant was no easy task. As Bill quickly says, "It is easy for ambition to overrun logic!" After selling Brew in March 2017, they opened Baked on Stephanie's birthday, April 20.
The bakery does a brisk retail business in addition to producing all of the bread, bread bowls, buns and baked goods for the restaurant. The huge cookies on the menu include the biggest seller — a chocolate chip cookie with sea salt. Their cupcakes and doughnuts with miniature bottles of Bailey's, RumChata and Tito's Vodka on top speak to the fun they have with food. They also produce delicious brownies, cakes of all sizes and almost any breakfast pastry you can imagine.
The restaurant part of Baked Beer and Bread Company benefits from the bakery. While many restaurants claim to use locally sourced ingredients, you cannot get more local than a few steps away.
With 16 rotating taps, a full bar, a cocktail menu and an interesting wine list, it is easy to find something to sip while looking over the menu. Due to space limitations at the restaurant, they rely on Galena Brewing Company to brew their beer using their recipes. Depending on the season, you can order Golden Boner, Muffin Top, Lt. Meowstach or Foxy Blond, in addition to many other craft brews.
A good place to start on the menu is the "Beginnings" section. Our energetic waitress, Selby, had fun walking us through the options — Jalapeno Popper Donuts, Asparagus Bruschetta, Crab Fondue, Parma Sutra or the biggest seller, Cheezus Crust, which we could not resist. A round loaf of sourdough bread is drizzled with garlic olive oil, stuffed with cheese and covered with melted beer cheese and crisp bacon. It was so good we wanted to shout, "Hallelujah!"
All of the soups are homemade and rotate on a daily basis. Netflix & Chili and Baked Potato Soup are always on the menu, along with delicious-sounding salads — Bourbon Pear Salad and Kaled It.
More into carbs than soup and salad on this trip, we looked over the Southern comfort foods. Baked's rendition of chicken and waffles begins with a white cheddar and pepper waffle, topped with crispy fried chicken, powdered sugar, sticky peaches and a maple bourbon glaze.
We opted for one of our favorites, a Nashville-style hot chicken sandwich. Boneless fried chicken is dipped in Baked's signature hot chicken sauce, topped with Sriracha slaw and a citrus herb sauce, and encased in a homemade brioche bun. It was so good Elvis would have been "All Shook Up" by it! Be sure to have choose the mac 'n' cheese made with beer cheese and cavatappi noodles as your side.
All of the smoked meats are done in-house. The fun continues in the menu's pork section with the Notorious P.I.G. and the meatloaf wrapped in layers of bacon, served atop a thick slice of sourdough bread and smothered with dirty mashed potatoes, crispy onion strings, house-made brown gravy and barbecue sauce.
Lovers of corned beef, we could not resist the Reuben, which featured tender smoked corned beef, sauerkraut, zesty Thousand Island dressing and Swiss cheese piled high on a massive piece of house-made rye bread — definitely a sandwich made for both hands.
Carb lovers, take notice! There is a menu section just for you. The Gold Digger includes smoked barbecue pulled pork, topped with beer mac 'n' cheese, studded with their homemade cornbread and served in a sourdough bread bowl. We had enough leftovers for a delicious breakfast the next day.
A good hamburger begins with freshly ground chuck that is hand-patted. It becomes a great hamburger when topped with a homemade bun. With fun names like Glazed and Confused and Californication, it was hard to make a selection.
When we asked our waitress, competent general manager Cody and playful chef Matt McDonald which burger was their favorite, they all responded with, "It's a Big Dill." One bite told us why. The perfectly cooked, juicy 6-ounce burger topped with pepperjack cheese, fried pickles and the signature big dill sauce was served on a brioche bun. It was so good we look forward to having it again.
Brunch is a showstopper at Baked. It is so popular that it is offered from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. on both Saturdays and Sundays. In addition to baked goods and entrees, brunch features several stations. For $8, you can visit the made-to-order omelette station. The pancake bar offers two pancakes for $5 with loads of toppings. A favorite feature is the build-your-own mac-'n'-cheese bar that offers a wide variety of of toppings.
There also are a bloody Mary bar and a mimosa bar, reflecting the theme that good food is fun food!
It is impossible to showcase this place in words. Be sure to check out the restaurant's Facebook page, which has more than 12,000 likes. The pictures will draw you in. Bill and Stephanie understand the importance of atmosphere and customer service, and they invite you in to escape the business of life, to sit, eat great food and have fun!
The bakery opens daily at 8 a.m., and the kitchen opens at 11 a.m. weekdays and 10 a.m. Saturdays and Sundays, closing at 9 p.m. during the week and 10 p.m. on weekends.
Life is too short to not have fun — go and get Baked!
He said: I really liked the rye bread that was featured in the tender Reuben sandwich. The It's a Big Dill hamburger was delicious; I could tell the ground chuck was fresh. You will enjoy the well-thought-out selection of tap beers.
She said: Food needs to be fun. This place hits the mark. I loved the baked goods and could not resist getting a frosted sugar cookie on the way out. I look forward to returning for a leisurely brunch.
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