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Here are some treats from Art Mart

Over the weekend I grabbed some sweet treats from Art Mart for a casual dinner gathering; I selected three for sharing. Clockwise from bottom right: almond tart with apricot ($3.95); blondie with roasted white chocolate and strawberry balsamic swirl ($2.48); apple pie bar ($2.48). 

My favorite of the three was the apricot tart because it had a firm tart shell, soft and gooey insides, and the chewy apricot on top. I was intrigued by the blondie because of the white chocolate-strawberry balsamic combo; it was sweet and tart and rich. The apple pie bar had a shortbread base topped gooey apple filling and a crumble topping. All three are perfect afternoon treats, or little bits of yummy to share with friends and family. 

Art Mart
1705 S Prospect
Champaign
M-Sa 7 a.m. to 8 p.m.
Su 7 a.m. to 5 p.m.

Photo by Jessica Hammie

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What is this place?

It's no secret that we have a lot of turnover in this town. People, restaurants, stores — they all come and go. 

In our latest version of "What is this place?" we look at this sign at Old Farm Shops in Champaign. 

What is this Ba'get place? It's in the space formerly occupied by Subway, so it's reasonable to assume that it is likely a restaurant. Is it a sandwich shop? Opening right next door to Cheese & Crackers, a deli that has some of the best sandwiches in all of C-U? Is it connected to this Australian Vietnamese fast-casual chain? Seems unlikely, especially considering the aesthetics of the signage don't match. 

Or perhaps my instinct is off here, and it's simply a store that will sell patterned pants and smart tops for women. 

But really, all I can think about when I read "ba'get" is this stupid meme

Have more detail? Share with us! 

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Here’s what the proposed Midtown Crossing development looks like

Update 8:56 p.m.: Since the initial post, the renderings have been updated to include a new cover photo (above) and a new rendering below the map. You can find those renderings here.

The Gazoo points out that there's a new development coming to Midtown from Scott Cochrane called Midtown Crossing. Cochrane bought the mixed-used buildings from MTD after they were put up for auction last year, as well as C Street when it closed.

Though this is far from a done deal yet, things are moving forward: Champaign City Council is set to vote tomorrow on a $300,000 grant from this TIF district to help the project happen.

Check out the rendering of the area above, which proposes Water Street become the heart of the area with outdoor seating/pedestrian mall of sorts. 

Page Roasting Company and Flying Machine Avionics exist down the street, as well as the huge development of Midtown Plaza just down First Street from those two.

Here's a map of the taxing area, and the area for redevelopment below:

The view from Chester Street:

Renderings and maps from City of Champaign.

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Here’s a quick review of Krekel’s

Krekel's Custard recently opened up on Kirby Avenue in Champaign. I drive past it quite often, and each time the parking lot is full and drive-thru line is around the building. The parking lot is small, no doubt, but people are definitely getting their fix of burgers and custard. 

I'd never had Krekel's before, and I managed to stop by at an off time to grab a couple of burgers, fries, and some custard. I ordered a double cheeseburger ($3.53; ketchup, mustard, pickle) for myself, one for the spouse (ketchup, onion, pickle), one order of fries ($2), a lemon shake ($2.59), and a cup of chocolate custard ($1.64; on the recommendation of the employee taking my order). 

Here's what I thought:

The burger was good. The edges were crispy, the bun held together. They were a little stingy with the condiments — I needed more of all three. The spouse agreed on all fronts. 

The crinkle cut fries were excellent. 

The lemon shake was lemony and sweet and creamy. 

The chocolate custard was perfectly swirled, very creamy and not overpoweringly chocolaty. 

The service was relatively fast. For some reason I was served my cup of custard right after I ordered, which made no sense because all orders are to-go, and the rest of the food wasn't ready. By the time I got it home it was pretty melty, but not nearly as melty as it would have been had it been ice milk. 

I'd eat at Krekel's again, for sure. If it's a nice day, take your order across the street to Hessel Park, where the atmosphere is infitely better than in the tiny restaurant or its parking lot. 

Krekel's Custard
401 W Kirby
Champaign 
T-Su 10:30 a.m. to 10 p.m.

Top photo by Patrick Singer; all other photos by Jessica Hammie

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Here’s the first look at Plaza Park plans in Downtown Champaign

The City of Champaign has released some information about the plaza park in Downtown Champaign, which we've covered at length over the last year or so. They have released what they are calling "preliminary design framework", and a detailed report about the process and such as well.

 



You can also review the detailed report that includes a full process overview and input summary here

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Watson’s has a new summer menu

Watson's unveiled an updated menu today for the summer, and it has lots of tasty additions, including a couple of dishes with Alabama White sauce (which I personally have greatly missed), as well as Nashville Hot Fish (pictured above). There will be lots of new cocktail creations, including the Belle Meade Sour and El Hefe. You can still enjoy Slushy Flights, but for those who want a little less sweetness and a little more alcohol, there is a 'Pick Three' Spirits Flight.

Hours remain the same, including 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. brunch on Sundays. Watch for a new brunch menu in the future. Here's a sneak peek at the menu, and some of the latest dishes and drinks.

 

Polish Hammer

Watson's Rice Bowl

El Hefe

Belle Meade Sour

Photos provided by Watson's.

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There’s a new mural going on the back of Furniture Lounge

There's a new mural coming to Downtown Champaign's Furniture Lounge (located at 11 E. University, Champaign) created by local artist Kelly Hieronymus. It will exist on the alley-side of Furniture Lounge, on Walnut Street near University Avenue.

This is the second mural coming to Downtown Champaign, check out the one going by Visit Champaign County's office, and read our Editorial Board piece about public art in C-U.

Here's what the mural will look like, roughly:

Images provided by Hieronymus.

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Go Greek at Pekara

Look at this Greek salad from Pekara:

It's a thing of beauty, and it tastes, good, too. I got it to go (obviously), and it was just as good as if I had eaten it in the restaurant. I was initially worried that there would not be enough dressing, but I was mistaken; there was plenty. 

With tax, a meatless salad is just under $8; add another $2.50 for chicken or tuna. 

Pekara Bakery + Bistro
116 N Neil St
Champaign
M-Sa 7 a.m. to 8 p.m
Su 8 a.m. to 6 p.m.

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The Pocket Prairie in Downtown Champaign is no more

The Pocket Prairie in Downtown Champaign, located on Market Street between Main and University (directly across from Seven Saints and WEFT) has been demolished. The photo above was taken earlier today.

This is presumably to make way for Pour Bros which is going into the building on the south side. You can read about the Prairie Monk here, and read more about the Pocket Prairie here.

Top photo by Patrick Singer

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Avionics made a shrub with Japan House cherry blossoms

Avionics has been serving up several shrub (a drink made with vinegar) varieties this spring, and this one is super cool. It uses cherry blossoms from Japan House's iconic cherry blossom trees and it will be available starting today. Be sure to get in there to try it!

Top photo from Facebook

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Soul Food Sundays at Wood N Hog are delicious

On the first Sunday of each month, Wood N Hog offers a variety of traditional Southern soul food dishes in addition to their regular menu. If you haven't been to Wood N Hog yet, you're missing out. It's delicious. I'm partial to the turkey tips with the mixed sauce (mild and hot, $11.99). The spouse and I got a bunch of food last month and had at it. The fried fish was particularly delicious, and the greens and mac and cheese were fantastic. You can get one meat over rice with two sides for $12.95, or meat over rice with two sides and cornbread for $14.95. 

Do yourself and your loved ones a favor and get yourself some soul food on Sunday, June 3rd. 

Read our review here, and an interview with the owners here. And look for Wood N Hog's food truck this summer.