Thursday, June 5, 2008

Bars at the Crossing

On Wednesday's now, Kriddy and I are in an APA pool league at Jupiters at the Crossing.

Right next to Jupiters 2 (Jupstew) is another bar, Billy Barooz. Both Jupstew and BB are Carlos bars, like Seven Saints. The man gets a lot of my money. Granted he's probably got a huge house, but I'd bet that I spend enough at his bars to make him a mortgage payment a year.

We started out at Billy Barooz to eat before heading next door to Jups2. I prefer the BB food rather than the pizza at Jups. BB has a good menu and is the Carlos bar you would most likely take a family to for a sit down dinner. It's probably the only bar he has that has a kids menu.

Last night I had the ribeye steak sammich, which was delicious. It looks like they changed out the steaks because the last time I had it, the meat was thinner and stringier, last night it was about a half inch thick, prepared perfect (medium rare; pink throughout) and the bun was good too. I got it with the vegetables which last night was steamed baby carrots and broccoli. Kriddy went with the kids mac and cheese and fries. The mac wasn't too impressive, Kriddy thought it might have been kraft. If it was, they made a lot of money off it. It wasn't bad, it just wasn't great and looked like something anyone could make.

On Saturday's they used to (and might still) have a special of the smothered sausage. This is DELICIOUS. A polish style sausage covered in peppers and onions. Served with a side of spicy jardinière. The mixed vegetables normally are a squash and zucchini mix which is outstanding.

On Sundays they had (and might stil have) the country fried steak which Kriddy got most every football sunday. BB has the NFL sunday ticket and enough tv's to have every game on. (Update Sept. 6: Billy Barooz no longer has NFL Sunday Ticket)

One of my favorite meals there is the Cajun Creole Pasta. It's AWESOME! The pasta itself is good enough, but it's got shrimp, peppers, spices and some hot sausage, served in a spicy creamy cheese sauce. It's sooo damn good. I'd eat it everyday, except that since I'm lactose intolerant, it REALLY rips me up. Add to the cheese that shrimp can also devastate my insides and when I eat that I have to have a restroom available three hours alter. But it's worth the pain every now and then.

The beer selection isn't that great. There are 4 different taps on each side of the bar. On the north side is Guinness, Smithwicks, Blue Moon and Stella Artois; on the south is Coors Light, Miller lite (or high life), Leinenkugel Sunset Wheat, and Sierra Nevada Pale Ale. You'll note there are no AB products on draft. They have all the AB's in bottle. BB's also carries Natural Light for one special person who shows up every now and then. They carry about 20-30 bottles and you can probably find something in a style that suits you. Kriddy's favorite beer there is Sam Smith Oatmeal Stout. My standby is Goose Island Oatmeal Stout (although I'm not sure they still carry it). Up until yesterday there were no 22 oz bombers but now they have New Belgium Fat Tire.

BB was the bar that got me to stop drinking miller lite. Ok, it was a bartender there, but still, it was at that bar. Right where the Stella tap is, was the beer that got me off macro's. It was Bells Amber. The handle that looks a little bit like a tooth with a light brown ball. Several months after switching beer, they changed that to Bells Oberon (which I didn't like, I missed my amber :( ). That's about when I started to try all their beers. It's to the point there now, that several bartenders won't even serve me Miller lite anymore.

The bartenders are friendly and accommodating. They'll change the tv's to whatever you want, and if it's slow enough, they'll just give you the remote. There are "for entertainment only" poker games but only a couple. There's also the game center where after 10 at night you can play Adult games, like the Photo Hunt (or as kriddy calls it T&C). There is a Touch Tunes internet jukebox. After 10 p.m. I've been known to terrorize the remaining patrons with music they hate. Marilyn Manson's Cake and Sodomy is one of my favorites for that. Playing that at 10 really cleans out the people who ate dinner and are just staying for "one more drink" "ok, maybe one more but this is it" "ok one more".

BB's used to be my everynight bar, back when I was going out drinking with my nEighbour. One night he'd drive and I'd get to drink, the next he'd be loaded up on some REALLY STIFF Jack and Cokes.

BB's was and still is one of my favorite bars. I've got some fond memories of sitting in there drinking. But there's not much else to do in there than sit and drink.

If you need something to do... go next door. Jupiters at the Crossing is now Champaign's playground. Like the original Jupiters, there are pool tables. The original has about 4 tables, the new one had about 3 times as many. The main floor has about 6 tables and the basement also has a bunch. (I've never been to the second floor; but I think it has darts).

In addition to pool tables, there's an air hockey table and all kinds of other games. There are kid's style games that give out tickets that can be redeemed at a machine that gives out prizes. They've got skeeball! On the first floor next to the motorcycle racing games is the basketball freethrow game. Kriddy kicks ass at that. Her favorite downstairs game is Deal or No Deal, while I enjoy the hunting game.

Oh, there's also 4 lanes of bowling. It's not full sized bowling, the lane is about half as long. You throw shotputs down the lane and hit pin's on strings. It's as much fun as you should be allowed to have while drinking. Kriddy has been known to not set her beer down while playing. I effort throwing the ball REALLY hard. I like the pin explosion.

The food is mostly pizza and related items. There are all kinds of pizza, if you want something on a pizza, they've probably got it. I've heard people say the pizza at Jups Classic is better, and I tend to agree; although I don't eat pizza much due to the afore mentioned lactose intolerance.

Now for the beer...

This is the Carlos bar with the largest selection of beer. It's not the variety you'd get at Crane Alley, but it's probably got the fifth largest selection in CU. The beer list was initially put together with input from Andy at Seven Saints. They've got nearly the full line of Great Divide beers including Yeti, Hercules and Titan. There are several Lefthands. There are still a few bottles of Goose Island Bourbon County Stout floating around at some of the bars (there are bars in the basement and the first floor, and probably on the second... dunno, haven't been up there). There's a wide variety of Rogue beers there, along with several trappist ales too.

In the past 2 times I've been there I've had New Belgium 1554; New Belgium Fat Tire; Rogue Shakespeare Stout; Great Divide Hercules; Rogue Chocolate Stout; Great Divide Yeti; Goose Island Bourbon County Stout; Great Divide Titan and probably some others.

The bartenders are ok about the beers, but they are more jack and coke makers than providers of great beers. Most of the time, they don't know the beer you ask for, and then spend a long time looking for it... "it's the one in the bottom shelf in the middle... with the white label". Last night I asked for a Fat Tire and got a 1554. Asking for an amber and getting a black isn't great. I drank it anyway, but wasn't too happy about it.

Jupiters at the Crossing is probably the best place to take a person if you want to entertain them and have them try some really great beers. It's best to go there after 10 p.m. because that's when they kick the kids out. Saturday and Sunday afternoons have a lot of kids birthday parties. (CU doesn't have a chucky cheese, the nearest is 50 miles away).

Between the two bars, you can get some great food and some great beer. It's too bad I can't transfer my tab between the two. Or maybe it's a good thing, I'd probably spend even more money if I could get BB food at Jups or Jups beer at BB.

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