Memorial Stadium – Champaign, IL

8 09 2008
  • 1402 S. First St.
  • Champaign, IL 61820
  • (217) 333-3630
  • Website
The south endzone of Memorial Stadium filled with fans as the Fightin Illini take on the Panthers of Eastern Illinois

The south endzone of Memorial Stadium filled with fans as the Fightin' Illini take on the Panthers of Eastern Illinois

I finished up my weekend in Champaign at the newly renovated Memorial Stadium on the campus of the University of Illinois.  Like many other Big Ten schools, U of I decided they needed luxury suites and to do so, they chopped their upper deck seating on the west side by quite a bit.  The benefit for me is one of the best press boxes I’ve ever worked out of and a relocation of the camera platforms from a basket hanging off the upper deck that I had to climb over the rail to get to to platforms at the back of the concourse which is much safer and comfortable. 

From the outside, the home of the Fightin’ Illini doesn’t look much different.  The architects were able to keep the integrity of the building.  Something that couldn’t be done a few hours north at Soldier Field in Chicago.  Inside, the west side is a totally different building.  When you first walk in to the stadium, you come to a huge open concourse area.  Plenty of room for the thousands of fans who show up on a Saturday afternoon to walk around comfortably.  The walls are lined with concession stands and souvenir kiosks.  If your seats are in the lower bowl, you can easily get to those seats from where you enter.  When the stadium was redesigned, they made it possible to walk from one side to the other which was something you couldn’t do just a few years ago.  Read the rest of this entry »


Blues BBQ – Urbana, IL

5 09 2008
  • 1103 W. Oregon St.
  • Urbana, IL 61801
  • (217) 239-9555
  • Website
  • Menu
Blues BBQ on Oregon St. in Urbana, IL near the University of Illinois

Blues BBQ on Oregon St. in Urbana, IL near the University of Illinois

I made a mistake.  I had planned on going to grab a couple slices of pizza after I got off work from a pizza joint that gets rave reviews.  Instead, I chose to go get BBQ.  That in itself is not a bad choice.  The restaurant I chose was the bad choice.

I noticed Blues BBQ last night when I went to Manolo’s (review HERE) to get pizza.  I almost went there then because it *looked* like a neat place.  When I left Memorial Stadium tonight about 8:00, I headed back to the area to get some Q. 

Blues BBQ is located in a little shopping district on the campus of the University of Illinois.  From the outside Blues looks like an upscale BBQ place.  It’s not the roadhouse you think of when you usually think of BBQ.  This should have been a huge warning sign.  When you walk in, again, you’re met with an upscale, eclectic feel.  There are a handful of tables in the dining room.  Most of them share seats with long, red benches.  There’s a bar that runs along the windows which is about the only thing in here that you would find in a typical BBQ place.  Read the rest of this entry »

Farren’s Pub and Eatery – Champaign, IL

5 09 2008
  • 308 N. Randolph St.
  • Champaign, IL 61820
  • (217) 359-6977
  • Website
  • Menu
Farrens Pub and Eatery on Randolph St. in Champaign

Farren's Pub and Eatery on Randolph St. in Champaign

Farren’s Pub and Eatery was a suggestion I got from a poster over at Chowhound.  I wanted to find some of the harder to find places in Champaign/Urbana and I definitely did with this place.  I spent all morning at Memorial Stadium getting ready for tomorrow’s U of I/Eastern Illinois game.  By the time our lunch break rolled around, I was starving.  I left the stadium and headed back towards downtown.  Farren’s sits on Randolph Street which is a one-way a few blocks west of Neil which is the main business district.  My GPS was telling me I was there, but I wasn’t seeing it.  As I was driving by, the sign jumped out at me at the last second.  I had to go up to the next street and turn around.  The only parking around Farren’s is street parking and since it was 3:00, I didn’t have any trouble finding a spot in front.

The main entrance sits quite a ways off of the road.  I wasn’t quite sure which door to go in.  The only sign is the one out front at the road.  There are no markings on the door or windows that frame the door.  I pulled on it and it opened so I figured that was it.

There’s not a whole lot to the pub but what is there is gorgeaous.  You walk down a ramp that reminds you of a wheelchair ramp to get into the space.  There are just a few tables and the bar in the dining room.  There was only one other table being used when I got there.  I grabbed one close to the bar/kitchen to make it easy on the waiter/bartender.  Read the rest of this entry »

Subway – Ashkum, IL

4 09 2008
  • 410 N. Front St.
  • Ashkum, IL 60911
  • (815) 698-2108
  • Website
  • Menu
The Subway store located inside BP Fast N Fresh in Ashkum, IL on the way to Champaign

The Subway store located inside BP Fast 'N Fresh in Ashkum, IL on the way to Champaign

You haven’t lived in a small town until you’ve lived in a place that gets excited a Subway is moving in to the gas station.  How small is this town?  It’s the only national chain other than Dairy Queen that has ever set up shop.  Yes, that’s the town I grew up in.  This review is actually a holdover from a couple of weeks ago when J and I were home for the Ashkum Homecoming.  I didn’t snap a picture and really just forgot about it until I stopped at my parents house on my way to Champaign tonight.

Like I already mentioned, this particular Subway is located inside the only gas station in town about half a miles from Interstate 57 in Ashkum, IL which is about halfway between Chicago and Champaign.  Before Subway moved in a year ago, the only food option this town had was pizza from the local grocery store or pizza from the operation that occupied this space.  The townspeople were ecstatic when it was finally annouced Subway would set up shop.  My mom actually eats there at leaset three times a week. 

J and I got up after a long night of drinking and catching up with some of my old friends.  The only options for lunch at the park where the homecoming was being held were greasy foods like hamburgers, pizzas, and brats.  She wanted something a little healthier and I didn’t want grease so we walked down to the BP for lunch. Read the rest of this entry »