The Big 10 with Jeff D'Alessio, Feb. 25, 2018

The Big 10 with Jeff D'Alessio, Feb. 25, 2018

With Dublin O'Neil's bringing delish back (fish sandwiches from the late, great DeLuxe) and an Urbana institution set to serve its last meals today (you'll be missed, Milo's), we asked this week's panel: What's the local menu item from yesteryear you most wish would make a permanent comeback?

JOE SMITH
Retired Senior Civil Engineer, City of Urbana

"Back in the '70s when I was in my mid-20s, my father would come to town on occasion on business and would take me to Carmon's on North Neil for breakfast with his business associates.

"Everyone always ordered the huge, homemade cinnamon rolls, a warm and gooey sweet bakery treat. They were fantastic.

"I don't know the history of the ownership of Carmon's, but at some point, they quit serving American-style breakfast and became a French bistro (in 2011) and finally closed (in 2012). I'll always remember the cinnamon rolls and hanging out with my dad."

RUTHIE HARPER
Bartender/server, Hendrick House Catering

"The sign in the window of Dublin O'Neil's advertising the return of the DeLuxe's fish sandwich made what I had heard and read become reality. I actually drove around the block to make sure I'd read it correctly.

"I fell in love with DeLuxe's fish sandwiches in the late '60s. Sometimes, I would eat one there and get one to go.

"I love fish, and over the years I've tried fish sandwiches from many different places and tried many different batters at home. Some have been very good, but none have been as good as the DeLuxe original recipe.

"Now, I have one big problem. I'm fasting 40 days for Lent, only one meal per day after 6 p.m. During Lent, I can eat fish and poultry but nothing fried. You talk about 'lead me not into temptation.' I'm sure glad that I serve a forgiving God."

KARI JOHNSON SMITH
Owner, Champaign Jewelers

"I miss the pineapple gimlet at Boltini's.

"Boltini's announced that they were closing when I was pregnant with my daughter, and I was so disappointed that I would not be able to have my favorite cocktail again. Luckily, they stayed open a month or two after she was born, so my husband and I had our first date night after baby at Boltini's."

DEBBIE HIRSCHI
Senior Tax Manager, Martin Hood

"I really miss the moo shu pork at the China Inn, which was on West Springfield. The dish was not unique to them but they used moo shu wrappers or pancakes and not egg roll or wonton wrappers, like so many others do. The filling was delicious also. It was just the right sweet/savory/crunchy mix.

"One memory I have of dining at the China Inn was when one of my husband's grad students held a celebration dinner there when she finished her Ph.D. She was of Chinese heritage and knew the owners. They seated us in a quiet corner and served us family style.

"We did not order but they brought out dish after dish of wonderful food, most of which I had never seen on the menu. Their closing also left a huge void in sit-down, eat-in style Chinese restaurants in Champaign-Urbana."

RUSTY FREELAND
Attorney, Meyer Capel

"One of my favorite menu items from a bygone era was the warm yeast rolls at the Greater Downtown Champaign Food and Beverage Company.

"In college, my girlfriend — now wife — and I would go there for lunch and get multiple baskets of rolls with butter and strawberry preserves. Combine these with another signature item — an Elaine's salad — and you had a great inexpensive lunch.

"The atmosphere was part of the appeal, with the open kitchen and bar creating lots of energy and interest. My mouth is watering just thinking about those rolls."

JAY HOEFLINGER
President, Champaign Lions Club

"I would choose the banana pancakes at Uncle John's Pancake House on Kirby Avenue.

"When I was an undergraduate in the early '70s at the UI, very few of us had cars at school, so we were limited to destinations within walking distance. I and my Scott Hall dorm mates — including my future wife, who lived upstairs in Scott — would make regular treks over to Uncle John's before it closed at 2 a.m. We would even walk in sub-zero temperatures, freezing my sweetheart's earrings to her ears.

"The pancakes were good, but it was the great friends, the walk in the dark and our youthful ability to eat a big meal after midnight that made it special."

JERRY MORELAND
Student resource supervisor and assistant basketball coach, Urbana High

"Back in the day, the '70s into the early '80s, the original Taco Bell on University Avenue in Urbana served The Bell Beefer. It's basically a Mexican sloppy joe sandwich. It was the bomb.

"I love the creative genius of Taco Bell, but they've got to bring this sandwich back. There's much I desire already, but the Bell Beefer would certainly enhance T. Bell's success and my eating pleasure.

"Yo quiero Taco Bell."

KATHY KALER
UI's Assistant Director of Academic Services, Student Development

"For me, nothing compares to my all-time favorite — a creamy cajun pasta dish from the Sea Merchant in Urbana. It was loaded with chunks of chicken, jumbo shrimp and slices of sausage, all served over linguini.

"I always broke into a sweat while eating it and had to have a big glass of ice water handy, but it was absolutely delicious and I would savor every bite.

"I've never forgotten the taste of that dish and every once in awhile — most recently, last week — I try to re-create it. I've come close, but I sure wish I could dive into a big bowl of the real thing one more time."

SHIRA EPSTEIN
Co-owner, Champaign Surplus

"I have been missing Katsinas since it went away years and years ago. It was my absolute favorite place to eat growing up.

"Since it was down the street from the store, I would go often with my grandparents and parents at lunchtime and we'd sit out in their garden patio room. We loved their Greek salad, their various soups and sandwiches — and their onion rings were ridiculously good. Used to share those with my grandmother.

"I'll also eternally miss the Mediterranean pasta salad with tuna from Great Impasta. I get a hankering for that on a regular basis."

PETER TOMARAS
Former restaurant and hotel operator

"The Tomaras family laments the passing from the restaurant scene of Milo's, closing today in Urbana.

"We will miss the consistent quality of their foods — the freshest salad greens anywhere, the best tilapia filets and salmon in C-U, comfort foods like chicken pot pie, the weeknight specials, the wide variety of signature menu items. The personal, caring attention of owner Jane Anderson and her staff are rarely experienced in any food service arena — always, they were willing to accommodate the personal preferences of customers for substituting sides or even prep methods.

"Finally, Milo's Sunday brunch was unparalleled — who will ever fill that void? Adios, Milo's. Wonderful dining memories will endure."

Sections (2):News, Local
Topics (2):People, Restaurants

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Ellen wrote on February 25, 2018 at 12:02 pm

I'm not on your panel but I miss Shakey's Pizza that use to be on North Prospect (I couldn't tell you about their pizza) but their chicken and mojo's were so good. I also miss Ponderosa Steakhouse and the ORIGINAL Garcia's Pizza. It is just not the same as it was in the 70's. 

Oh, and the Italian dressing from Jolly Roger. OH EM GEE....It was so so so good!!