LTH Home

Recs for good eats in Champaign/Urbana, area

Recs for good eats in Champaign/Urbana, area
  • Forum HomePost Reply BackTop
     Page 1 of 8
  • Recs for good eats in Champaign/Urbana, area

    Post #1 - June 25th, 2004, 4:40 pm
    Post #1 - June 25th, 2004, 4:40 pm Post #1 - June 25th, 2004, 4:40 pm
    Hi,
    Since we travel to the Champaign area often to visit our daughter, it would be nice to get some recs for good, family type restaurants in the area. We have been to most of the upscale type places in the area, know about Curier, lil porgys, and have our fav mexican place in area, but would love to know some just plain good eats places. Thanks in advance to all you experts out there!
  • Post #2 - June 26th, 2004, 10:42 am
    Post #2 - June 26th, 2004, 10:42 am Post #2 - June 26th, 2004, 10:42 am
    Hi,

    You took my steam away when you already have been to Lil'Porgys! You could check out and report on:

    Ye Olde Donut Shop
    60 East Green Street
    Champaign, IL 61820
    217-359-3311

    The last time I was in Champaign, I noticed this donut shop had a new side: Ye Olde BBQ. The Donut Shop was famous for running out of donuts early and closing for the day. I guess someone found a way to keep the enterprise going for the balance by adding BBQ. I just have a feeling you cannot get donuts and BBQ at the very same time. If you go, please do report!

    I have alerted a known Champaign/Urbana resident of your query and I hope he chimes in. Meanwhile, there was a thread on another board. Please follow the link on the response written by me as it has another link with more information:

    More Champaign recommendations

    Whatever you do, please do report back as Champaign-Urbana is an often visited place.
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #3 - June 28th, 2004, 3:05 pm
    Post #3 - June 28th, 2004, 3:05 pm Post #3 - June 28th, 2004, 3:05 pm
    You can get donuts and BBQ at the same time at Ye Olde Donut Shop; however, it's only open from 6am-2pm on weekdays, and closed weekends (though they'll be open this Sun. for the Fourth of July). And they still tend to sell out of donuts early. (Try an old-fashioned donut if you get a chance.) They no longer serve BBQ ribs, which is a shame, but they do serve good rib tips, as well as various BBQ sandwiches. They also serve very good onion rings and hush puppies, though those aren't always there, either. One word of caution: there are no tables. There's a counter with a couple of chairs, and another counter (running along the windows) with five or six stools. So if you're a large family, you're pretty much obliged to do take-out.

    Aside from YODS, I don't know that much about family dining in C-U. But coincidentally, I was at Taste of C-U last weekend, and there were a couple of promising places. I'd had the ribs at Johnson's Ribs-n-Tips once, and wasn't impressed, but I had the rib tips at the Taste, and they were pretty good (the sauce was bland, though). They also serve soul food lunches. (They're not open for dinner Tue., and they're only open Sun. when a band is playing.)

    Johnson's Ribs-n-Tips
    116 N. First St., C (a block north of University Ave.)
    (217) 355-2916

    Za's was serving amazing huge ice cream bars hand-dipped in melted chocolate. According to the people at their booth, they'll be serving these in their restaurants starting next week. Aside from this, their specialty is individual thin-crust pizzas (I don't consider myself qualified to render a judgment on these, though they haven't knocked me out when I've had them); they also serve pasta and paninis. They have two locations: one in Campustown, on Green St. between Wright and 6th (I can't find a phone number), and the other at 2006 W. Springfield Ave. C. (217) 355-4990.

    And I have to throw in a plug for Ruben's Chocolates, though it's not a restaurant at all. They make excellent hand-made gourmet chocolates (expensive, but not as expensive as some).

    Rubens Chocolates
    121 W. Church C.
    (217) 355-3064
    Closed Sun.
  • Post #4 - September 6th, 2004, 9:10 pm
    Post #4 - September 6th, 2004, 9:10 pm Post #4 - September 6th, 2004, 9:10 pm
    Wow!

    My girlfriend and I just rode all the way from the quad of U of I to Lil' Porgy's BBQ on Springfield.

    The ride was definately worth it. I was telling her "...Cathy2 had better be right about this place or else..." :lol:

    I have to say that the 1/2 chicken with the mix bbq sauce is excellent, and was pleasantly suprised that the lemon shake up had no metallic taste that I often notice in county fairs.

    However my girlfriend's bbq chicken sandwich was average. The mild bbq sauce didn't do it for me and the meat was a lot drier than the meat on the 1/2 chicken.

    Overall, great dinner. Easily worth the 6 mile bike ride.
  • Post #5 - September 6th, 2004, 11:03 pm
    Post #5 - September 6th, 2004, 11:03 pm Post #5 - September 6th, 2004, 11:03 pm
    Wing!

    How are you doing? It appears you are continuing your studies at U of I Champaign. Maybe one of these days when I am in your area we can dine together.

    Please put on your to-do list a visit to Ye Olde Barbeque which is in the same location of Ye Olde Donut Shoppe. I am darn curious about that operation. Of course if you don't ever go, no big deal because nobody else I have inquired with has gone either! :D

    Ye Olde Donut Shop
    60 East Green Street
    Champaign, IL 61820
    217-359-3311

    I'm just curious about a place that begins the day as a donut shop, which always had a reputation of closing with the last donut sold. Morphs during the day to a BBQ on the premises. Given the idiosyncratic nature of the donut shop, it wouldn't surprise me if you could not buy a donut when the BBQ operation is running.

    OOPS! :oops: I just read Adam Stephanides report on YODS --- I guess I missed it the first time around. Well, Wing I wouldn't mind your take on it sometime.

    Anyway I am certainly glad my Lil'Porgy's stood up to the Wing challenge!
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #6 - September 8th, 2004, 2:59 pm
    Post #6 - September 8th, 2004, 2:59 pm Post #6 - September 8th, 2004, 2:59 pm
    More on Za's: the ice cream bars are apparently only at the W. Springfield location. I had one there, and it wasn't as amazing as I'd remembered the ones at Taste of C-U to be: no doubt partly because I wasn't eating it outdoors under a blazing hot sun, and also partly because I'd let the chocolate coating stick to the plate.

    As long as someone else from C-U is reading this board, I'll throw in some more recommendations. First, there's my favorite restaurant in C-U, Bo Bo China, on Green St. in Campustown between 4th and 5th (352-2272). They're inconsistent, but at their best they're the best Chinese food I've had in C-U hands down. Some dishes I'd suggest are crispy chicken with three chilies; pork intestine dishes (I'm serious; if you're too squeamish to try this you don't know what you're missing); stir-fired pork with cilantro (they aren't kidding about the cilantro); hot braised crab; and fish dishes, in particular the pomfret fish with seasoned soy sauce. I've posted about this place several times on chowhound.com, so searching there may bring up some dishes I've forgotten (some of the posts were under the restaurant's former name of Yen Jing). The menu situation is confusing: the main menu is on handwritten paper slips posted on the wall, most of them with English translations; but there are also photos of a variety of dishes stuck in the window and elsewhere; and there's a printed menu on the counter, which has some dishes not found in either of the other places. They also serve an all-you-can-eat buffet, which isn't bad, but I'd stick to the individual dishes. They're open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday.

    Then a couple places which aren't restaurants. The Cake Artists' Studio, at 1100 W. Bloomington Rd, Champaign between Prospect and Mattis (403-0900) mainly does wedding cakes, but they also do very good individual tarts and pastries. Persimmon Grocery, a new store, is on Walnut St. in downtown Champaign just south of Bacaro. While they're mainly a gourmet grocery, they do sell a few ready-to-eat items. I had a couple of their deli salads, both very good. They sell a few desserts. One, called something like a chocolate croquant, is delicious. I wasn't so impressed with the chocolate lava cake, and I haven't tried their tiramisu yet.
  • Post #7 - September 9th, 2004, 9:51 pm
    Post #7 - September 9th, 2004, 9:51 pm Post #7 - September 9th, 2004, 9:51 pm
    Adam: Are you a student at UIUC? If so, please leave some contact info (like email). If you are magically in Accounting/Finance/Computer Science then I think we'd have plenty to talk about. :p

    But about BoBo China - I've only been once, and it was during the buffet. Seemed to be standard americanized chinese fare. As far as that goes, I do enjoy the General Tso's chicken from empire chinese right down the block. The chicken seems to retain its crispiness even after sitting in the sauce for a good twenty minutes - probably due to the fact that they use very minimal batter (which means, no doughy texture when you bite into the morsels of chicken). Sauce is mild-spicy - just right with a bowl of white rice.

    I want to try Mandarin Wok but I want to go when I have my chinese friends with me. They claim a different menu of much better items. I will post once I get the chance to experience it.
  • Post #8 - September 9th, 2004, 11:09 pm
    Post #8 - September 9th, 2004, 11:09 pm Post #8 - September 9th, 2004, 11:09 pm
    Wing wrote:They claim a different menu of much better items. I will post once I get the chance to experience it.


    Try to get a copy of the chinese menu, which we can scan and post with a translation on the Useful Stuff board.

    Thanks!
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #9 - September 10th, 2004, 9:17 am
    Post #9 - September 10th, 2004, 9:17 am Post #9 - September 10th, 2004, 9:17 am
    wlingjpera wrote:Adam: Are you a student at UIUC? If so, please leave some contact info (like email). If you are magically in Accounting/Finance/Computer Science then I think we'd have plenty to talk about. :p


    I'm not a student at UIUC, though I once was (first in Sociology and then History).

    wlingjpera wrote:But about BoBo China - I've only been once, and it was during the buffet. Seemed to be standard americanized chinese fare.


    I really would suggest that you try it again, ordering from the menu(s) and picking a non-Chinese-American dish, of which there are plenty aside from the ones that I recommended. While I'm not an expert on Chinese food, I have eaten at some of the "authentic" places in Chicago's Chinatown, and I'd say Bo Bo China is as authentic.

    wlingjpera wrote:I want to try Mandarin Wok but I want to go when I have my chinese friends with me. They claim a different menu of much better items. I will post once I get the chance to experience it.


    I ate at Mandarin Wok a couple of times several years ago, ordering from the untranslated menu posted on the wall (I don't know if there's a printed untranslated menu). I wasn't that impressed by it; I preferred Bo Bo China (or Yen Jing, as it was called then).
  • Post #10 - November 13th, 2004, 12:07 pm
    Post #10 - November 13th, 2004, 12:07 pm Post #10 - November 13th, 2004, 12:07 pm
    Adam Stephanides wrote:Persimmon Grocery, a new store, is on Walnut St. in downtown Champaign just south of Bacaro. While they're mainly a gourmet grocery, they do sell a few ready-to-eat items. I had a couple of their deli salads, both very good. They sell a few desserts. One, called something like a chocolate croquant, is delicious. I wasn't so impressed with the chocolate lava cake, and I haven't tried their tiramisu yet.


    I recently posted a review of bacaro (my favourite restaurant) to chowhound and thought it might be useful here too. First off, I'd like to say that I love Persimmon too - even just to get a fresh baguette from Mirabelle's bakery without having to go to Urbana. They also sell a lot of really reasonably priced wines and the spicy tuna sandwich is great and very generous in proportions. For more info their website is http://persimmongrocery.thadmorrow.com.

    As for my bacaro review: I love this restaurant. On Sunday nights the wines are half price and so I've tried plenty! The staff make excellent wine pairings suggestions and they have the best deserts in town (without doubt). On my last Sunday visit - thanks to the cheap wine - I splashed out and tried the truffle risotto. The experience was exquisite. Before I was served, my meal I was brought out the truffles to smell, touch and admire before they were shaved onto my meal by the chef. They are amazingly aromatic and a gustatory treat. It was a wonderful evening, as always at bacaro. Note also that it is open until 11pm - making it one of the few places in Champaign where you can get a good dinner after 10pm - you can eat at a table (more romantic?) or at the bar (lots of fun with friends!). http://bacaro.thadmorrow.com.
    Last edited by thomas.archer on November 18th, 2004, 12:27 am, edited 1 time in total.
  • Post #11 - November 13th, 2004, 7:32 pm
    Post #11 - November 13th, 2004, 7:32 pm Post #11 - November 13th, 2004, 7:32 pm
    Hi Thomas,

    Welcome to LTHforum.com.

    We very much appreciate having another correspondent from Champaign. Many of us find reason to go down there on occasion. Though it is not a culinary wasteland, it does take some hunting and pecking to find good local haunts, so all new information is valued.

    I appreciate the links and when they are unavailable, an address is appreciated.

    Thanks for posting!

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #12 - November 15th, 2004, 10:18 am
    Post #12 - November 15th, 2004, 10:18 am Post #12 - November 15th, 2004, 10:18 am
    The bread from Strawberry Fields in Urbana is to die for.

    I recommend the Sunday Brunch at Silvercreek in Urbana. And just south on Race Street The Courier Cafe - Have the Skinny Dippers (amazing potato skin conconction), and of their shakes, delicious homemade soups, great sweet potato chip, and a conconction they call The Quesadilla - a tortilla stuffed with mushroom, onion, eggs, and cheese.

    For bar food - Murphy's is not quite the spot that it was back in the day, but they still have handcut fries and tasty burgers.

    For hippy food - M-F at lunch, check out Red Herring in the basement of the Channing Murray - delicious homemade breads, soups and sandwhiches.

    The roast beef on baguette at the Bread Company comes with a lovely creame cheese horseradish.

    Espresso Royale makes a cappucino that Starbucks wishes it could.
  • Post #13 - November 15th, 2004, 11:58 am
    Post #13 - November 15th, 2004, 11:58 am Post #13 - November 15th, 2004, 11:58 am
    Having spent the majority of my teenage years in Champaign, I would have to recommed LaBamba for your late night cravings. Their slogan is "Burritos as big as your head" and they truly are. I know that there is one or two of them up in the Chicago area, but I grew up on La Bamba in Champaign and have to go back there everytime that I visit. The grand burritos are made with tortillas that are at least 18" in diameter and they are all made to order. Trust me, if you want good food fast, and need something for the late nights after hitting the bars, try them out.
  • Post #14 - November 18th, 2004, 12:23 am
    Post #14 - November 18th, 2004, 12:23 am Post #14 - November 18th, 2004, 12:23 am
    Dear Cathy2 et al,
    Thanks for the warm welcome.
    This may be too much but I have to write about bacaro again. [By the way, to make up for my last post, from http://bacaro.thadmorrow.com/factsheet.html, their address is 113 North Walnut Street in downtown Champaign across from the Esquire and near Kopi, Persimmon Grocery and Radio Maria (brunch!)].

    I was just there tonight, sitting at the bar when at around 9.15 or 9.30 the chef-owner, Thad Morrow, brought out a huge serving plate of polenta and proceeded to serve some to every one seated at the bar! Apparently this is something they do there every now and then! Wonderful. A very pleasant surprise indeed and enough reason for me to return and try a few more of their 180 italian wines...

    Before that treat was put before us I had tried the fall menu's duck (fantastic - succulent with apricot, farro and pomegranate!) and the unassuming ravioli (an absolute must try - I never knew pasta could be this good). If there is a place that does better deserts i want to hear about it - the vanilla bean cheesecake is my favorite (get the excellent staff to recommend a desert wine to accompany it).

    As for beyond fine-dining in CU:
    icfan wrote:LaBamba for your late night cravings

    I had never had rice water before I visited this place and have never looked back - it is a guilty treat, especially post some 'student-ville' socializing! Tastes like the milk of sweet rice pudding without the rice... how could it be bad?

    For something which hasn't been mentioned yet, Hinode near the Art Theatre on Main do $1 Sushi on Mondays. I think they have an excellent sushi chef even if the decor is not much to write about. The staff are friendly and helpful. I recommend the Shrimp tempura roll. [Also, green tea ice-cream: num, num].

    For Mandarin/Szechwan take-away the portions from Peking Garden (355-8888 at 206 Randolph, which is one-way headed North) are huge and there is a parking lot right next door. They also offer delivery.
  • Post #15 - December 21st, 2004, 1:43 am
    Post #15 - December 21st, 2004, 1:43 am Post #15 - December 21st, 2004, 1:43 am
    The Thai food scene in C-U has exploded in the last year, with two new good places opening - on both sides of the twin cities.

    My favorite is Thara Thai in Champaign, located on Bloomington Road just west of Prospect (Bloomington Road is the first stoplight south of the bridge that goes over I-74). It is a tiny, 10-or-so table mom-n-pop operation. The waitress, Pon, is very friendly and eager to please. I've never had a bad meal here. The pad thai is great (always my measure of a true Thai restaurant). I also recommend highly the spring roll appetizer, the tom yum soup and the panang curry. Entrees range from $6.95 to $10.95. An absolute bargain.

    I've only eaten at Siam Terrance in Urbana once. It is a pleasant, classy environment. It is located on Main St., around the corner from Courier.

    Don't even bother with Nitaya Thai in downtown Champaign; once the only game in town, it's a wasted meal!
  • Post #16 - February 6th, 2005, 11:35 pm
    Post #16 - February 6th, 2005, 11:35 pm Post #16 - February 6th, 2005, 11:35 pm
    This Tuesday (Feb. 8) Bo Bo China (see my posts above for the address) is having its annual Chinese New Year buffet, which features a number of unusual dishes they don't normally serve. It lasts from 4 P.M. to 10 P.M., and in the past it's been very crowded during peak hours.

    Incidentally, I ate there last night and had stir-fried pork stomach with sour vegetables, which was very good.

    EDIT: It turns out that when you follow the numeral 8 with a right parenthesis, the board software automatically turns it into a smilie, unless you disable smilies.
  • Post #17 - February 10th, 2005, 6:17 pm
    Post #17 - February 10th, 2005, 6:17 pm Post #17 - February 10th, 2005, 6:17 pm
    Hi Everyone
    As it happens I am in Champaign-Urbana this week and had a chance to try a Jacksons Ribs n Tips. My impression is below

    Jackson's Ribs-n-Tips
    116 N. First St., C (a block north of University Ave.)
    (217) 355-2916

    Actually it is Jacksons Ribs N Tips, the address is correct and it is across the street from the police station. I had the rib dinner at 6.50 with 2 sides and sauce on the side. They also had full slabs at 17.50. The dinner contained 4 good sized meaty ribs with tips intact. They are pit cooked with some hickory smoke and perhaps a note of mesquite. They seemed to have a basic salt pepper rub and where cooked to perfection and moist although not steamy moist. I enjoyed them very much and it was quite a bit of food for 6.50.

    One of my rib joint bugaboo's is that some places do not seem to do a good job, if any, of removing the backside membrane. These ribs where clean which raised them up a notch in my book. The sauce has a slight tang, not all all overpowering and seemed to complement them well. But if you are looking for an out of this world sauce this aint the place. The sides where baked beans and cole slaw. No greens or cornbread where offered on the menu. The slaw was homemade and good with some slices of those purple salad onions in it, maybe a little too creamy for me. The baked beans where in a mild sauce and also tasted homemade. All in all I would give the place 3 out of 4 bones for the ribs and the value.


    I also made it to Dos Reales and was very impressed by not only the quality of the food but the service as well. The steak fajita quesadilla had very fresh ingriedients and the marinated steak was tender and flavorful. The service was friendly and attentive. I would put this place a step or two above most of the mexican places I have tried lately. Full dinners ranged in the 7.00-9.00 range and considering the quality I think it is a bargain.


    As someone else had posted, BO-BO chinese on campus had a New Years buffet tuesday night. A few seconds after I walked in I noticed there where about 25 people dining. I was the only non asian present. The hostess noticed this too and immediately explained what was going on. She very frankly told me they spent weeks preparing for this and explained that they had no americanized dishes on the buffet, giving me an out if I wanted to leave. I noticed she did this to every caucasian that walked in, and most did not stay.

    But being the adventurous sort that I am, I paid my 9 bucks and started filling plates from the buffet. No dishes where marked in any language btw. The potstickers and soups where ok, actually about the same as any other chinese place I have been. They had some spareribs that must have been stewed in a ginger sauce. I couldnt get enough of these. I have never tasted pork cooked with ginger before, now I know what i was missing. If by any chance anyone knows what these are called I would like to be able to order them again back home.

    There where some grilled or broiled snow crab legs but I passed on them and instead had what was the halved underbody of the crabs in a buttery sauce. They where good but a lot of work. They also had some whole head on shrimps in a spicy red szechaun sauce. A little messy but quite good. There was a spicy beef in a garlicky sauce that also had dried red peppers in it. They served whole fish, snapper?, that was cooked perfectly and was nice and flaky and moist. There where 7 or 8 other dishes that I had no clue on, but I did note almost nothing there was breaded and deep fried.

    The sauces that where served where not the thick gummy type I am used to but quite light and semi-viscous. And there was fruit everywhere. The college kids where piling fresh fruit high on plates and sharing it. A sweet table was also provided including those white tennis balls with plum filling inside and some yeasty little bow ties with sugar coating. This was one case where I wish I had an experienced LTH'r with me as I am sure I am missing a lot of good stuff. One example would be a cake pan with what looked like beef and greens in solid gelatin. I am sure it was good as everyone around me was filling up on it but I chickened out when it came to trying it. From what the hostess told me, the day to day buffet is the standard americanized fare and none of the chinese people ever have it. Behind the cashier is a wall full of yellow notes in chinese and she said that is the true chinese menu.

    Thats all for now, I will head back home tomorrow
    Bob
    Bob Kopczynski
    http://www.maxwellstreetmarket.com
    "Best Deals in Town"
  • Post #18 - February 10th, 2005, 9:39 pm
    Post #18 - February 10th, 2005, 9:39 pm Post #18 - February 10th, 2005, 9:39 pm
    I'm glad you enjoyed the New Year's Buffet at Bo Bo China, Bob. Maybe with two people recommending the place, more people will try it.

    "From what the hostess told me, the day to day buffet is the standard americanized fare and none of the chinese people ever have it."

    Actually, they usually do have a few non-Americanized Chinese dishes in the day-to-day buffet. But as I said before, I'd order from the menu anyway: for one thing, the food's fresher.

    "Behind the cashier is a wall full of yellow notes in chinese and she said that is the true chinese menu."

    Yes, that's the main menu. There's also a single menu on white paper, kept at the hostess/cashier's stand, which has some dishes not on the wall. (Don't confuse this with the pink paper menus, which have Americanized dishes.) And the photo menus in the windows have some authentic, as well as Americanized, dishes. (This is a bit different from what I said in my first post; they seem to change the menu arrangements every few months.)

    Speaking of ribs, by the way, Ye Olde Donut Shop is now serving ribs (as distinct from rib tips) again, but only on Fridays. I haven't tried them yet, though.
  • Post #19 - March 13th, 2005, 9:34 pm
    Post #19 - March 13th, 2005, 9:34 pm Post #19 - March 13th, 2005, 9:34 pm
    I'm taking out my executive board (for a registered student organization) out for dinner at Bacaro on the 3rd of April - on the club, of course. :) I was wondering if anybody had some entree / appetizer / dessert reccomendations? I am looking forward to dinner there very much!
  • Post #20 - April 3rd, 2005, 7:54 pm
    Post #20 - April 3rd, 2005, 7:54 pm Post #20 - April 3rd, 2005, 7:54 pm
    A couple of updates on places I mentioned before: the Friday before last I had the pork ribs (as distinct from rib tips) at Ye Olde Donut Shop, for the first time in over a year. Actually, the place had changed ownership and staff a few weeks before I first posted on it here, but I hadn't mentioned it because I didn't see much, if any, change in the food. But the ribs I had were far inferior to those I had once had. If you go there, I recommend sticking to the rib tips.

    On a happier note, I ate at Bo Bo China yesterday and had a very good dish I hadn't eaten before. It's called "stir fried wood ear" (or "tree ear"), but in fact it also contains pork and green onions, in addition to the title ingredient. "Wood ear" is a sort of fungus that grows on trees, and tastes sort of like mushrooms, though the texture is different (but nothing to be scared of). The extreme right column of the handwritten menu on the wall behind the cashier is labelled "New Dishes" and contains three untranslated items; stir fried wood ear is the second of these.
  • Post #21 - August 4th, 2005, 9:47 pm
    Post #21 - August 4th, 2005, 9:47 pm Post #21 - August 4th, 2005, 9:47 pm
    I had dinner tonight at a new restaurant in Urbana, Hedgerow Bistro. As the name suggests, it serves bistro-type food. The dishes I had -- an appetizer of seared bay scallops and an entree of salmon -- were simple, but very good. The menu is very short, but the entrees will change weekly. It's pricey, with entrees averaging around $20, but if the meal I had was typical, I'd rank it as the best fine dining restaurant in C-U.

    Hedgerow Bistro is located on the SE corner of University and Lincoln Aves., and is tucked in the back room of a flower and gift shop called English Hedgerow, which is the only name on the building. It's only open Tue. through Sat. between 5:30 and 8:30. Since the room is pretty small, it's probably a good idea to make a reservation on weekends, to be on the safe side. The telephone number is 365-0055.
  • Post #22 - August 6th, 2005, 10:06 am
    Post #22 - August 6th, 2005, 10:06 am Post #22 - August 6th, 2005, 10:06 am
    Champaign's downtown area is rightfully proud of the development that has occurred there. Last night we caught a film at the Art Theatre, a renovated single screen alternative house. Then a half block walk to One Main, and a new restaurant called KO Fusion. The One Main building also houses Jim Goulds, a beautiful new steakhouse. There were people everywhere. It was a beautiful summer evening, and Great Impasta, and Boltini had sidewalk tables. KO Fusion also has outdoor seating. Inside at KO Fusion the decor is worth the trip, modern, great lighting, very cool. The menu is eclectic, lots of sushi, a sake and martini list, steak, fish, vegetarian. We were snacking, and ordered a salad, a meatball appetizer and a volcano roll. The salad was artfully plated, half a kalamata olive on a grape tomato in each corner of a square plate, romaine set on end in the center, a nice sprinkle of feta and a good vinaigrette. Not a particularly generous portion, but not bad. The meatball app was OK. The volcano roll was tasty, baked shrimp on top of a California roll. Price for each dish was around $7. Service was very good. I'd like to return and check out more of the menu. One thing I really liked is the variety of price levels available. You could easily roll up $100 a couple, or get by with sushi and sake for $15 a person.
  • Post #23 - August 24th, 2005, 2:03 pm
    Post #23 - August 24th, 2005, 2:03 pm Post #23 - August 24th, 2005, 2:03 pm
    "Champaign's downtown area is rightfully proud of the development that has occurred there. " - ChefJeff


    Business travel has taken me to C-U pretty regularly since February of this year and I have only recently discovered the Walnut/Neil-University Ave area. I think the development or renaissance that is taking place is fantastic. I have been searching for some local non-chain estabishments offering some delicious fare (and think I have more options to explore after reading these posts). I think my first discovery so far is Radio Maria. I tried a half Adobo Chicken salad and the Salmon Limon entree from the lunch menu. Both were excellent and a pretty good value compared what you might find in Chicago. It didn't hurt that I dined alfresco on a gorgeous sunny day with a cool breeze. I also walked down the street to Persimmon Grocery for some gelato. The vanilla with a hint of bay leaf hit the spot. The gourmet grocery is a fantastic place to explore as well. I'm hooked. I hope to check out Bacaro soon.

    http://www.radio-maria.net/
    http://persimmongrocery.thadmorrow.com/

    On a side note, I attended the Italian Night event at Sam's Wine in Chicago and received a complimentary SCHOTT ZWIESEL wine glass. I haven't tested it's durability but the concept of durable crystal is great. Great wine and food plus a great wine glass to keep. What a deal! More info below.

    http://www.schott-zwiesel.de/html/references.htm
    http://www.schott-zwiesel.de/html/tritan1_e.htm
    http://www.brentwoodwine.com/schott.html
    http://www.samswine.com/Events/index.aspx
    Tim
  • Post #24 - September 5th, 2005, 8:59 pm
    Post #24 - September 5th, 2005, 8:59 pm Post #24 - September 5th, 2005, 8:59 pm
    I LOVE downtown Champaign now. It is fun, it is cross-generational. And it has lots of different kinds of food and drink.

    We went to Jim Gould's for Sunday Brunch...very nice, reasonable, a great way to spend early sunday afternoon.

    My one complaint is that if you are going to have a white tablecloth restaurant as this one is, and charge the prices that fit such a restaurant, that you MUST ask male patrons to take off their baseball caps when they walk in the door.

    Even the club two doors down is maintaining a dress code. Come on! Sunday brunch with white tablecloths, excellent food and drink, and the prices to match does not allow for a campus atmosphere with the baseball caps. GET WITH IT! Make it one way or the other.
    :arrow:
  • Post #25 - January 23rd, 2006, 10:08 pm
    Post #25 - January 23rd, 2006, 10:08 pm Post #25 - January 23rd, 2006, 10:08 pm
    In addition to the very good gelato at Persimmon Grocery (which they are continuing to serve, even though it's winter), they serve excellent soups. They serve two varieties per day (though they sometimes run out of one), and change varieties every few days. And for the quality, they're very cheap -- $3 a cup, $5 a bowl -- making them the best culinary bargain I've come across in C-U.

    There's a new Chinese restaurant in campus town next door to Bo Bo China, called Lai Lai Wok. They have an extensive menu, with a lot of unusual dishes; unfortunately the two times I ate there, I was less than impressed. It's also more expensive than Bo Bo China.

    Speaking of Bo Bo China, I had a good dish there last night: roast beef tongue with garlic sauce, though in fact they were out of beef tongue and substituted pork tongue. Also, their annual Chinese New Year buffet is coming up. This is the one day a year when I order their buffet, as they have a number of traditional dishes rarely found in buffets. Iirc it's this Saturday (Jan. 28th), but you probably should call first to be on the safe side.
  • Post #26 - February 16th, 2006, 11:14 pm
    Post #26 - February 16th, 2006, 11:14 pm Post #26 - February 16th, 2006, 11:14 pm
    Our recent outing to UIUC was a successful trip -- we stopped at the new THREE FLOYDS Brew Pub on the way down -- located in Munster, just inside the Indiana border. They currently have a delicious stronger version of Robert the Bruce called Bob da Broot on tap (a strong wee heavy -- sweet, malty and of course hoppy as you might suspect from FFF)

    The cook is doing interesting things with the menu.
    (the tag line for the brewery is "why be normal" and the food follows suit.)

    We started with the Scotch Eggs which were hard boiled eggs, pickled in beer, wrapped in sausage, rolled in bread crumbs and deep fried. Served with a remoulade over mixed greens.

    Image

    Then we split a Reuben, which had very moist corned beef and was served on raisin toast! Pumpernickel with golden raisins and rye with dark raisins. Served with great fries.

    Image

    There were about 9 FFF beers on tap (including a couple like Bob da Broot that you cannot get elsewhere and about as many guest beers.)

    You can also stock up on STONE Brewing (Arrogant Bastard) and other beers that don't make it to Illinois (due to our corrupt distribution laws) at the Liquor Stop, which is not far away. Gas was also only 2.15 per gallon there.

    Then down to Urbana where we loved SEABOAT. Pictured is the Seaboat sandwich with the works -- side of fried okra perfectly crispy, small macaroni and cheese which was peppery and cheesy, and sweet potato pie which had both sweetness and spice. There was something on the menu called Bean pie which intrigued us but we did not try. Next time.
    Everything was made to order and all we had hoped.

    Image

    Other high points were during our night on the town -- Mike and Molly's pub was pretty empty (we started drinking early) while we were there in the early evening. They have a very nice scotch selection, and a few uncommon beers like Kulmbacher Eisbock on tap (a strong German dopplebock almost never seen on draft). Then we headed over to Blind Pig pub which had Scaldis on tap (a very strong, sweet, Belgian ale also rarely seen). They were also about to put on PECHE MORTAL on tap on 2.14. This is an excellent 10% imperial stout brewed with coffee beans from Dieu du Ciel brewpub in Montreal. In all they had about 12 taps and a English style hand pull. Quite a nice line up for the area and a friendly bartender too. It's a smoky place, but a great ambience with wood paneling salvaged from a church and old wooden beams.
    (Unfortunately we did not make it to Crane Alley -- we tried to go there sunday but it was closed -- but that would have complete the beer trifecta)

    Both Picadilly and Friar Tucks liquor stores helped us to round out some beer selections we can't get here in Chicago (especially Friar Tucks has a broad German/Eastern European selection we don't see at Sam's)

    After the bars, we grabbed a pizza to go at Jupiter. A trendy bar atmosphere belies the the high quality of their pizza. A very good cracker crust and quality toppings. Ours had spinach, basil, sun-dried tomatoes and large chunks of extremely tasty sausage.

    Our UIUC hosts took us out for dinner so we tried Jim Gould's (Bacaro was closed). We got the steak tartare appetizer which was coarsely chopped steak with lots of onions, capers and gerkins (we like a lot of stuff in it and hackepeter). Very nice presentation on ice surrounded by toasts and a good size portion (larger than either Lachettes or Edelweiss portions in chicago).

    We also got the crab cakes, and they were filled with crab and perfectly crisp.

    Griffin got the rack of lamb (about 6 little chops) which was happily lamb-y. The mashed potatoes were also very good. I got the fried oysters -- they weren't crispy but they were large and flavorful and came with frites. We got creamed spinach on the side and it was so filled with cheese and butter and cream I had palpitations. But in a good way.

    Our hosts had the salmon. They said it was overcooked which was too bad. The prices were a little high and the beer selection was dissappointing. Bass and Guinness were their exotic choices. We headed to Blind Pig afterwords to get another Scaldis on tap.

    Griffin got to have the brisket at Lil Porgy's while I had a cafeteria lunch. He said the meat was a little dry but the sauce was excellent.

    Besides some great donuts at Ye Olde Donut Shop, our other breakfast was at Le Peep. This place is deservingly well thought of, with an extensive menu containing traditional and creative options (like benedict with corned beef hash in place of the "canadian" bacon).

    The final highpoint was our visit to the Meat Science department on campus for fresh lamb. We got fresh lamb neck for somewhere near $2 per pound. Lamb shoulder chops and ground lamb for somewhere closer to 2.89. Also sausages. mmmm. meat science. The lamb was fresher than any we have gotten on Devon (which isn't a knock on Devon).

    So we headed back north on Valentine's day, happy with our beer, meat science and seaboat experiences. The final coup however was stopping at Maple Tree Inn on the way back into town. What a gem! We were expecting to have to eat at the bar due to the holiday, but surprisingly they were not fully booked (we were a little early perhaps).

    We started with a pan-fried leek and artichoke torte topped with gorgonzola. I had Gouden Carolous Grand Cru (Strong Belgian) and Griffin had the Flossmoor Imperial IPA (Maple Tree has an excellent beer list). For entrees I selected the Crabe avec Crabe (fried soft shell, and a few nuggets of lump crabmeat) with sweet potato fries and an added order of grits. It came with 3 small soft shell crabs, perfectly fried. The grits with carmelized onions were lovely -- possibly an acquired taste, but I have trouble finding grits in chicago so I welcomed this option!

    Griffin got the Thibodeaux Surf and Turf with blackened pork tenderloin, seafood including mussels, clams and crab and gorgonzola cream sauce over red pepper pasta. Everthing was excellent. Including the bread pudding that Griffin ordered when I was in the bathroom. Soaked in brandy. A perfect ending.
  • Post #27 - February 16th, 2006, 11:22 pm
    Post #27 - February 16th, 2006, 11:22 pm Post #27 - February 16th, 2006, 11:22 pm
    HI,

    I hope you might include names, addresses and phone numbers of your various stops. This is an excellent post filled with lots of ideas of what to do in Champaign! Thank you!

    I go to Champaign from time to time, this is the first I heard of buying meat directly from the AG school. Where do you go for this? Do you have to make any special arrangements?

    (Please resize your photos to 600 pixels wide because it distorts the margins)

    Thanks!

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast
  • Post #28 - February 16th, 2006, 11:54 pm
    Post #28 - February 16th, 2006, 11:54 pm Post #28 - February 16th, 2006, 11:54 pm
    Those fries look great, but was the raisin bread a positive or negative attribute?
    Ed Fisher
    my chicago food photos

    RIP LTH.
  • Post #29 - February 17th, 2006, 12:03 am
    Post #29 - February 17th, 2006, 12:03 am Post #29 - February 17th, 2006, 12:03 am
    sorry about that!
    here's the follow up

    Three Floyds Brewpub
    9570 Indiana Parkway Munster, IN 46321
    http://www.threefloydspub.com/

    Sea Boat Restaurant
    1114 N. Market St., Champaign, IL 351-6209
    (Corner of Market and Broadway)

    Jim Gould
    One Main Plaza, Champaign 217-531-1177.

    Le Peep
    2209 South Neil St., Champaign, IL 352-7599

    Ye Olde Donut Shop
    60 E Green Street Champaign, IL 61820

    Lil Porgy's
    1917 W Springfield Ave., Champaign, IL 398-6811

    Jupiter's
    39 E Main St., Champaign, IL 398-5988

    Blind Pig
    120 North Walnut Street
    Champaign, Illinois, USA

    Mike & Molly's
    105 N Market Street
    Champaign, IL 61820

    Crane Alley
    115 West Main Street
    Urbana, IL 61801
    (217) 384-7526
    http://www.cranealley.com/

    Maple Tree Inn
    13301 Western Avenue
    Blue Island, IL 60406
    http://www.blueislandbiz.com/mapletree.html

    and finally, the University of Illinois Meat Salesroom
    102 Meat Sciences Lab
    1503 South Maryland Avenue
    Urbana, IL 61820
    call 333-3404 for price list & specials

    I think their hours are 1-4 weekdays
    Griffin will have to post if he has more info than this!
    We saw a flier for it in a friends office and Griffin figured out where it was.
    It is humorously located next to the cemetery on the south/east corner of campus...
  • Post #30 - February 17th, 2006, 12:07 am
    Post #30 - February 17th, 2006, 12:07 am Post #30 - February 17th, 2006, 12:07 am
    griffin's wife!

    The addresses are a terrific addition to your post. I know it is the tedious part of posting, though it sure does clarify where to go! I just cannot wait to buy meat from the meat sciences department!

    Thanks!

    Regards,
    Cathy2

    "You'll be remembered long after you're dead if you make good gravy, mashed potatoes and biscuits." -- Nathalie Dupree
    Facebook, Twitter, Greater Midwest Foodways, Road Food 2012: Podcast

Contact

About

Team

Advertize

Close

Chat

Articles

Guide

Events

more