restaurant review

A Quick Review Of Golden Harbor (authentic Chinese in the Midwest)

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Awesome, authentic and incredible. Golden harbor is just a simple looking place. Lots of little group tables and a few large round group family style tables. The cool part is the signage. IN an age where most Chinese food places are basically Americanized fast food, this place caters to our large Chinese and Asian community here. Truly caters .If  you are a real and truly adventurous foodie then it caters to you as well. A true food experience  There is an American menu but the adventure starts with the Chinese menu. Broad and delicious. All the signs in Chinese and menus prove what I mean. Come here to eat and experience what the food of this beautiful culture has to offer.

Before my wide ranging career in martial arts, it was just the standard fare for me. Eating with people from all over th world, in their homes or guided by them in restaurants taught me so much more. Watching what they ate(rarely on the menu) to asking questions. That brings me to this awesome place. From unusual seafood combinations to tons of tripe dishes it is the real deal. Thai dishes and a large number of plates from Taiwan(not the standard fare).

Ill keep my bad writer review short here and talk with pictures. I had the Chengdu chicken and my wife had the Generals tofu. We also had vegetable dumplings. I’ve  also had the baby squid here and a tripe dish that I can’t remember the name. All awesome. My dish had tons of peppers in it but strangely was not over powering in heat level. I love spice but like complexity. It had that on very level. My wife’s tofu dish was truly the best tofu prep I have ever had. Perfectly cooked. As a former pro fighter that has travelled everywhere, I have eaten lots of tofu. The BEST!    The dumplings aere moist and yet done. No clue what they were filled with but it was delicious. I’ll let the pictures tell the story and we will finish up after the jump.

 

 

Seriously, if you are anywhere near this part of America check this place out. Heck message me here and we will hang out! I like it that much. Ok now the standard business. If you want a link or ad on here we can do that. Want live tweets and pr from our large twitter following? We can do that. Think radio remote but cooler, cheaper and more effective.On location or just ads. Facebook, twitter and blog features. Email tompkinscontent@gmail.com and follow @combatsportlife on twitter. Hit me up at Bob Tompkins on FB.

Go here now!!!!!!

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A Quick Review Of Farren’s Pub (a hideaway destination)

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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.

IMG_4384On 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.

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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!

Get in touch with us for features and ads. Get live tweets and FB from our large social following Inexpensive and fun. We are always fun lol. Email tompkinscontent@gmail.com and follow @combatsportlife on twitter

Todays links

farrenspub.com

triptychbrewing.com

 

A Quick Review Of Cowboy Monkey ( a great meal in a very cool place)

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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.
If yiu would like us to visit your place oorbe part of social media ad program email us. tompkinscontent@gmail.com & follow @combatsportlife on twitter. Links and ads/features here and fun live tweets while we are at your place.
Todays links
The awesome Cowboy Monkey

http://www.cowboy-monkey.com/

The coolest western lifestyle store out there

http://www.legacyhomeandranch.net/

A Quick Review & Pictures Of Courier Cafe ( one of my local faves)

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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.
If you would like to have an ad or inexpensive link here& our interactive social media get in touch. Ads/spokes person/ features & links. Email tompkinscontent@gmail.com and follow @combatsportlife on twitter.
Todays links ( be here for a very affordable rate!!!!!)
http://couriercafe.squarespace.com/

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http://www.legacyhomeandranch.net/

A Quick Review Of Los Zarapes In Mahomet ( yep right here)

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Well, over the 23 years since I moved to this little town this location has had a ton of restaurants in it. Mostly family style diners. The first one I loved. Great salad bar and a cool view out over the highway in its back room. The ones after it were terrible until Los moved there. Now it’s a regular stop for my wife And I.  It’s a quick little vacation for the evening. Kitschy cheese master decor with classic Mexican dishes. Its just a cool break and doesn’t feel like the zillion Mex places in the area.

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I’ll make this part quick and easy to let the pictures do the talking. That always seems to be better, probably a statement about my writing!!!  I love their salsa.  We both do. We slow down on Friday night getting there. Grab a beer for me and a margarita for her. Relax and go over the menu while enjoying chips and salsa!  I most often get the chicken flautas and she gets the burrito deluxe or some version of that. Both awesome. This time we both got combination dinners. We each had some mix of burrito and enchilada with rice and beans. Very good. Classically done. Tons of food!!!  That said, I prefer the chicken. The ground beef is a tad salty for me. She said it was perfect so it’s obviously a personal taste thing. In any case it was all over good!  Take a look at a the pics including some menu snaps and we will talk after the jump.

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If you’re in this central Illinois area, then check this place out. Right off I-74 so if you’re traveling across Illinois/Indiana/Iowa it’s perfect. Take short little vacation here. It’s fun and delicious.
If you’d like to have us come hang out at your place or be reviewed here get in touch. Social ads or just setting up good times that promote you and your brand. We get you talked about, and make people with disposable income aware of you !!! Email tompkinscontent@gmail.com and follow @combatsportlife on Twitter.
Today’s links ( get yours here for a paltry sum)
https://m.facebook.com/loszarapesrestaurant/
tortilla warmer

A Trip To Pizzeria Antica (review of a cool destination here)

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We had eaten here shortly after it first opened but I didn’t have time to take pics and think about writing on it.  First, it’s a true cool destination location restaurant. Our downtown area has become quite hip, and is often referred to as micro urban. I should say that it’s close to where I live but I’m 15 min away in a tiny town. Champaign has about 100k people which is still small to many folks. My town has less than 8k lol. So I often refer to Champaign places as home to me.
  OK on to the fun stuff. First, if straight dominoes, papa John’s etc is the only thing you like, don’t go!  I love all pizza but this is wood fired gourmet rustic. Great locally sourced meats and cheese’s plus produce. Lots of olive oil and charred edges on the crust. Very good, and the place is a true experience. It’s in an old publishing building and very industrial looking. I love that!  You can stand and Look at the specially made ovens which came from Naples Italy. Heck you can see the woodpile!!
   A few pictures and then we will talk about the meal after the jump. Enjoy.

To start of I had a great Morreti Rossa and my wife had the house Chianti. We ordered the cheese plate for a nice start. Great local area cheese’s that were fantastic as well as olives/sweety drops jam and bread. It was very good. Not too heavy or much but classically excellent. Artisan local cheese can’t be beat for an experience.

    For the main we had the pizza pomodorini. Fresh mozzarella and fresh cherry tomatoes plus prosciutto Di parma/parmagianno reggianno and fresh arugula. Excellent. Fresh and nice charcoal edges. Again if this isn’t your thing it isn’t your place. Give it a try though. I’m a Giordano’s and Filippo guy but I love this stuff as well!
  

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It was a great meal in a very cool place. Made for a nice and different experience in our area. The only downside was service this time. I never complain about that but she disappeared!  Dropped off the pizza and never saw her again. We really wanted more drinks (especially me!). Gone. We have fun wherever we go and laughed about it but it wasn’t great. Nobody seemed happy to be there. I hope it was a one off as I really like the place and will return, but that needs work. We travel often, eat everywhere and pay well as a general rule. This was off.
   Again, it’s a great place and we had a wonderful time. Check it out if you’re in the area. If you’d like to be part of our sponsor/ad/ ambassador program email us. From inexpensive links to features or social ads/spokesperson work. Hit tompkinscontent@gmail.com today. Also follow @combatsportlife on Twitter.
   Today’s sponsor is the awesome Westbrook Stables. Get a great riding and training experience in a Western family oriented environment!  https://m.facebook.com/westbrookstable/

A link to today’s restaurant
http://anticachampaign.com/

A Short Review Of Esquire Lounge (my fave in Champaign IL)

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the Esquire is one of the oldest and in the Chambana area. I started going there with my Dad decades ago. It was tiny then. Classic little bar. A grill right in the window, the cook took your order and served you. Back then you could get like 3 things.
        Today it has expanded quite a bit. Two separate bars in two rooms. Lots of windows looking out on to the growing downtown area. It’s become a but if a tech hub around here and that has really helped our downtown become quite cool. The Esquire has changed but stayed the same. Exposed brick walls. Lots of  pool table,gaming and juke boxes. I’ll post some pics of the menu and some other things and we’ll talk a bit more.

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    The menu is bar/bistro but pretty wide. They have good individual pizzas as well.  The bar/beer list is great. The prices are great. I’ve tried a lot of it but I kind of go back to my two favorites. A cheeseburger and fries with a Domain DuPage from Two Brothers Brewing. The burger is great, and they have the coolest fresh condiment bar. That makes the difference!!  Plus that is an awesome beer. I normally lean toward IPA or similar but if a place has this French country ale I get it!  Very smooth, doesn’t bomb your senses or stomach and it’s made here in Illinois.

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  It’s great place to relax and just enjoy spending time. It’s family friendly, clean and just one of those rare places I look for in my travels. Fortunately this one is right here for me. If you like classics come check this place out.
     If you’d like to have us visit your place ( restaurant/bar/hotel etc) or be promoted/ repped by us then email me. We travel the world for martial arts and PR for businesses and write about the travel lifestyle. Hit tompkinscontent@gmail.com and follow @combatsportlife on Twitter.
   Today’s links ( yours could be here).
http://www.esquirelounge.com/

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