Month: August 2016
When I say hideaway I mean it in a very cool way. Off the street in an alley but right downtown. Think speakeasy but cool and clean lol. It truly is a destination location and one you should go to! You will see when I start posting pictures in a minute.
I know the Farren family personally as our daughters danced together on a comp tem and we travelled all over the country. They also keep horses at the stable my son owns. They are really cool and unusual people. It makes them great restaurant owners! Actually I have been going here though long before I knew them from those activities. Pretty much since it opened and I found it on accident. An awesome accident.
Years ago I think it was storage for another set of restaurants nearby (ill have to ask Carolyn). It gives it that hideaway warehouse feel with a cool ambience. On to the food though! Year after year they win the best burger award in all the local media. The burgers are awesome but there is so much more. Thinks bistro hip foodie while maintaining a cool bar food pub stance. You will find tech hipsters , finance people and older folks after a college football game. Heck, obviously you also find old retired fighters lol.
On this trip I go the Sante Fe chicken sandwich. Full disclosure, I often get that. A great chicken breast on fresh bread with an awesome pesto. A bit of peppers and cheese and it is perfect. It just has the right amount of pop with creaminess, flavorful without being heavy. Sandy had the mushroom and cheese and it was perfectly done. Too rich for me but right up her alley! Add in a great beer from Triptych ( another of our great local craft brewers ) and the meal was just awesome. Always is. Check the pictures and we will talk after jump.
If you want to get great magazine foodie level food at bar prices, check this place out. It is worth the trip. I might be a regular but you should try it at least once. If you are in central Illinois you should be a regular!
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This building has changed over the years. As a bar or restaurant it started as The Blind Pig about 25 years ago. A small little quirky club. The owner went on to open a very cool brew pub in town and sold this place. After a couple of different things, The Cowboy Monkey moved in. It is so cool and much larger now ( heck I remember when this space was the kitchen for a big Chinese restaurant). Inside it is both early 20th century retro and hip modern at the same time. Outside is even cooler. A large beer garden type area that is open with people walking back and forth to other bars surrounding it and often live music in the streets. Downtown Champaign has a very cool and lively atmosphere and yet not rowdy.
The menu is hip as well. Its jazzed up tex/mex with a touch of baja and carribean. Served in an always visually appealing way and it is delicious! The whole place just gives you a relaxed vibe but also a visual experence that always kind of refreshes me. A great beer list. A fantastic cocktail list with lots of new hip twists on classics. For this meal i went with the great Dogfish Head 90 minute IPA. A good crisp beer with the hoppiness i like but not taking away from the food. My wife had a pomegranite margarita. Gorgeous looking and she said it was great.
Im going to mostly let pictures do the talking here, especially abut how gorgeous the food is. First the food. I had the capistrano tacos. Three corn tortillas with spicy chicken,cheddar cheese with salsa and guacamole. It also comes with a dish of pickled red cabbage. Just finishes it perfectly. Truly a great dish. Sandy had the baja steak tacos. All the same except with great steak and chihuahua cheese, roastec red pepper/cilantro. Also fantastic. Check out the pictures and we will talk after the jump.
I travel all over and eat all over. Im blessed to do so but this place in my backyard is way up on the list. Cool, fun and delicious. Come check it out.
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The awesome Cowboy Monkey
The coolest western lifestyle store out there
The canal district in Indy is awesome. It can be a romantic walk, a place for a great run or an afternoon of kayaking. Loads of incredible museums, monuments and the gorgeous canal. Connecting to White River State Park, the area is a true gem just wander. A stunning 17ft waterfall, fountains and the awesome architecture of the museums (the Eiteljorg is stunning, but that’s another post).
I’m going to eventually make this a 3 or 4 part section of my Indy series as the museums, hotels and architecture need their own. Today is mostly showing you pictures of just walking part of it. OK, with a short stop in the Cole Porter Room at the Indiana Historical Society! You can rent paddle boats, kayaks or ride a gondola. You can also rent bikes,segways or even a Surrey. All this sitting at the edge of downtown. It is both serene and urban hip at the same time. A truly fantastic place for a romantic stroll. Hey I may be a torn old fighter, but I have a beautiful wife to keep happy! I know my romantic strolls.
During this stroll we had been all over so getting a bit tired, we stopped on the Stardust Terrace at Indiana Historical Society and had something to drink. I love terraces on water and this one is gorgeous. Even if you don’t go in the museum part, stop here and hang out. Definitely go inside to the Cole Porter Room. It looks like the bar in the Waldorf. Pictures and other things but most importantly, someone who sings his songs with an electronic grand piano!!! The lady when we went was phenomenal. OK, now for the pictures. Talk more after the jump.
If The canal district is a must see if you get to Indianapolis. No matter where you live but definitely if you are in the Midwest. Romantic,educational and just fun. Plus it can be very budget friendly for a short trip.
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This is an incredibly easy dish to make and can be served several ways. Stand alone, on tortillas or flat bread. Fresh tomatoes and herbs make it pop. It doesn’t take long and the finished product makes you look like a pro. Plus it’s relatively light, which is something as a trainer and former fighter is a huge plus.
I try to use produce from my garden in the summer almost every time i cook. It tastes better. It’s healthier and it makes cooking fun! For this dish I used roma and san marzano tomatoes,cilantro and basil plus a small serrano pepper. It gives a little heat but not much. I love heat, wife not as much. You can toss more on, or as in my case i just put more on my portion.
I take two bonless breasts and cut them into small chunks. Slice up 3 romas and 3 san marzanos unto small pieces, they will break down in cooking. A handful of chopped cilantro and basil pkus the very thinly sliced serrano and you are ready!
A liitle olive oil in a chefs pan(any non stick skillet works) and toss the chicken in on very high heat. A minute or two alone. The toss the tomatoes( juice and all) plus the serrano in. Stir frequently until the mixture breaks down like a stew( sort of) and the chicken is fully cooked. Toss in your herbsand stir. Cut the heat to simmer and cover for a few minutes. Boom!!! I top mine with a bit of bleu cheese but it’s awesome without. Take a look and we will talk after the jump.
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First, this place isn’t what you would expect. Then again it also is exactly what you would expect. Huh? Remember you’re reading a blog from a guy who used to get hit in the head for a job! In all seriousness that’s true though. Courier is both diner and upscale experience at the same time. Hip and in a historic building but has died chicken and a salad bar like my farm town roots. How does that work. First we will talk about the area and building .
In 1837 a man named William Tompkin purchased the land where it is. Im told that it is likely a relative even though there is no s on the end. Lots of spellings and my family came off the oklahoma native territories ( called reservations elsewhere) to Illinois in the late 1930’s so who knows. My dadand siblings didnt have birth certificates!! ( Common in native families at the time). The lad was sold to the well known farming/banking Busey family. Eventually it became the Courier newspaper building in the early 20th century. It closed in 1979, and yes i well remember that happening. In comes Alan Strong!
When i was a kid there was a cool deli on the UIUC campus called Bubbie & Zadies. I was a small town kid dreaming of travel and loved going there. It floodec to the point of no repair once and a few years later he opened the Courier Cafe.
Downtown Urbana where it is located is an eclectic place. Decades before farm to table was chic, urbana was that place. It annoys me and I love it at the same time lol. I mean Urbana,the Courier is always cool.
From breakfast, to burgers and sandwiches. From fried chicken to unusual mixes and steaks. The place is part of a bygone era where you could have a broad menu but it was all REAL FOOD! I travel all over for fights and pr work and it is a rare institution.
On this trip I had the Hammerhead with fries. Excellent roast beef and swiss soaked in red wine Au Jus served on a Bubby Bun. A couple of Domain Du Page beers from Two Brothers Brewing and it doesn’t get much better. My wife Sandy had the fried chicken with baked potato ( always mashed but the waitress said no longer available??!!) And the awesome salad bar. Survey says?? Awesome all the way around!!! Check out the pics( why you reall read this blog!) and we will talk after the jump.
Whether you live here or you want to take a destination restaurant road trio, Courier Cafe fits the bill. It is historic, architectually profound and foodie paradise at the same time. Check it out. Heck, call me and we will go with you.
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Todays links ( be here for a very affordable rate!!!!!)
I truly love just wandering around Caesar’s!!!! The hotel,the casino and the incredible Forum Shoppes. Even more entertaining and relaxing are the gorgeous grounds. Huuuuge! You can spend forever outside enjoying the Vegas sun and the manicured beauty. The place is a must when you are in town. Truly a wonder of the world.
In honor of today being the 50th anniversary of this awesome place I thought I’d toss on one of my weird random walk pictorial posts of this place. These are actually all from a my last trip there so hopefully you realize how much there is to see. These are just grounds and shops. It’s that big! Without further banter, here they are. Talk after the jump.
I hope you see how seriously awesome this place is. I am fortunate to have seen it multiple times. I do not care if you stay at whatever cheap motel is in town, go and see it. You will feel like a KING!!!
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