By Emily Harrington
I wish my kids were more adventurous in the food department. I wish we could take them to every restaurant we patronize. I wish they liked avocado toast and molasses-ginger cookies. They just don’t. For that matter, I don’t like avocado toast, and I just want a chocolate chip cookie!
However, I can usually find something on any menu. Flying Machine Avionics was no exception. This hipstery Champaign coffee shop is located at 202 South First Street after a move from downtown Urbana. You can find it behind the Dallas and Co. parking lot. Don’t park at Dallas, however, as a sign clearly states on their door. The parking is hit or miss. At 11 a.m. on a Saturday, we luckily found a street spot.
My husband and toddler opted to go somewhere else as soon as we saw all the people huddled over their laptops. (There’s Wi-Fi, of course.) It became a good opportunity for me and my kindergartener to have a date. (This would be a great partner date place, too.) I was relieved to see a dad struggling while managing his little girls. This set me at ease. They have high chairs, too. I would not bring little ones or toddlers; however, 5 and older, I would say is appropriate.
We chose a small table by the window. It’s industrial, warm and artsy. The tables even have water in old beer bottles.
I skeptically looked over the menu. Nothing screamed out at me. Everything was “funky.” I opted for a cup of vegan chili (cup $3). I was too early for the other soup of the day. I also got an egg sandwich with veggie cream cheese, muenster cheese, tomato and greens ($6). I opted to add bacon, too. Now it got tricky. They regularly make baked goods on site. Typically, they have some kind of cookie and muffin, zucchini bread and croissants from Central Illinois Bakehouse. I got my son a blueberry-raspberry muffin ($3). And a chocolate milk, presumably created for kids. They also suggested a vanilla steamer (basically a white, hot chocolate) or hot chocolate (8 ounces $1.50). I got two, small black coffees ($2 each). It’s always too hot for me to drink on the spot. And since I’m such a thoughtful wife, I got my husband one, too. The weekend fuel.
The chocolate milk was mixed right then, and it was served in a mason jar. It was really cute. It also made my son feel special. Sadly, he didn’t like the muffin. (Mommy did). Maybe because it didn’t taste like the packaged ones. I asked for butter, and I thought that would help. It didn’t.
Now my husband made the mistake of telling him they’d have grilled cheese. So, he wouldn’t stop asking about it. We ended up asking them to make a grilled cheese, and they kindly accommodated us. Since I was already ordering him something else, “The Dip” caught my eye. It’s either a platter ($8.50) or a side ($3.50). The server described it as hummus, but it has eggplant and hominy. Veggies are served on the side. I got the smaller portion. It’s served with crostini. It was good. My son ate half of his fancy grilled cheese. I ate the rest. My entire bill was about $30.
This place is for serious coffee connoisseurs. The local PAGE Roasting Co. has a board of offerings. These must be some fancy beans, for their drips are primarily $15 for 12 ounces! The headliner was “Democratic Republic of Congo.” This concoction has notes of chocolate, cherry cola, lemon tea, plum and sage. Yum. There are also black, green, herbal, iced and red teas (12 ounces $2, pot $2.75, 12 ounces of iced $3.25!) They bag the teas there.
The food plays second fiddle to the amazing, extensive and exotic caffeinated options. If I was adventurous, I’d try these interesting sounding combos:
- Chemex: this is a brewing process that uses an infusion method similarly to drip coffee. The filter, however, is thicker so it takes longer. This produces a richer cup of coffee than a drip cup.
- Harvest Moon: saffron, sea salt, maple syrup
- Sweet heat latte: honey, chocolate, cinnamon and cayenne
- Savoy bread pudding: local goat cheese, spices and tomatoes. A sweet version is also available with cardamom, cinnamon and rose frosting.
- Roasted root: caramelized onions, local goat cheese, roasted beets and greens on a baguette.
Breakfast is served all day. At brunch they have creations for kids: granola ($4) and egg/cheese sandwich ($5).
Emily Harrington is a Chambana townie. She left her 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. job in communications so that she could be a 24/7 mom to two busy boys. Still interested in writing, Emily uses some of naptime to practice her passion and keep her mind right. Emily is a happy wife with a happy life because she fell for a fellow townie. Emily usually finds herself engulfed in balls, blue and belly laughs.