Smile Politely

April Eats, Tastes, and Tipples

It’s April, and apparently finally spring, so get out of the house and enjoy the weather. The outdoor seating is finally reopening at every place you enjoyed before this interminable winter began.

The events and times below may change, so please make reservations or confirm.

Dinners and other events

April, all month long

bacaro’s new spring menu

bacaro has launched a new spring menu, which they’re serving up along with an influx of fresh spring ingredients, including fiddleheads, morels, ramps, wild halibut, and more. Check out their Facebook page for ingredient updates and delicious photos of what you’re missing when you’re not there.



(photo credit: Thad Morrow)

April 5

Spice Box Dinner, “A Trip Down Highway 1: A Taste of Florida Dinner”

The Spice Box, the student-run restaurant on campus, will host themed dinners with a guest chef on April 12. Seatings are available every half hour, starting at 5:30 and going until 7:30 each evening. For more information, check out their website. On April 5, the dinner is called, “A Trip Down Highway 1: A Taste of Florida.” The menu will include options for a prix fixe or a special, and menu options are listed here:

PRIX FIXE ($25.50)

  • Homemade Citrus Chips and Pico De Gallo
  • Grapefruit, Avocado, and Fennel Salad A refreshing blend of Grapefruit, avocado and fennel atop spring greens with a light vinaigrette
  • Crab Cakes with Pommery Mustard A play on the Sundowners Crab Cakes in Key Largo, topped with a pommery mustard sauce
  • Blackened Mahi Mahi with Mango Salsa A 6 oz. fillet of Mahi Mahi, blackened and topped with a refreshing Mango Salsa, served aside a bed of black beans and rice.
  • Key Lime Cheesecake with Chocolate Crème Anglaise A play on the Key West favorite of Chocolate Dipped Key Lime Pie on a stick

SPECIAL ($16.50)

  • Homemade Citrus Chips and Pico De Gallo
  • Grapefruit, Avocado, and Fennel Salad
  • Citrus Risotto with Asparagus and Shrimp A delicious risotto highlighted with a light lemon flavor and asparagus topped with spiced shrimp


  • Rum Runner $5.00

(See three additional Spice Box dinners below) 


April 5 and 6 and every ThursdaySaturday thereafter

Black Dog Late Night Menu

Black Dog Smoke and Ale House continues to serve up a special rotating late-night menu on Thursday through Saturday night from 10:30 p.m.–2 a.m., “for all of your boozing and small plate food needs!”

This week, the food menu will consist of:


  • Cornbread – Green Chiles, Pit Beans, Cheddar Cheese & Pulled Pork
  • Fried Chicken Skins – Honey & Chipotle Hot Sauce
  • Cheese Fries – French Fries, Welsh Rarebit & Green Onion Pesto
  • Poutine – French Fries, Cheese Curds & Gravy
  • Fried Dill Pickles – Corn Batter & Ranch


  • Southern Hipster – Fried Tofu, Pimiento Cheese, Beer Mustard & Dill Pickles
  • Korean Dog – Lap Cheong, Smoked Pork Belly, Kimchi & Sriracha Mayonnaise
  • Von Baron – Bratwurst, Bacon, Braised Sauerkraut & Beer Mustard 
  • Corn Dog – Beef Red Hot, Corn Batter & Spicy Ketchup
  • Yuppy Brunch – Breakfast Sausage, Bacon, Fried Egg & Maple Mayonnaise


April 5 and 6

What Will Be Your Legacy? by The Land Connection

“The Land Connection is bringing a one-act play on the future of farming and farmland, What Will Be Your Legacy? to central Illinois. The play presents an elderly farm couple, Gerald and Nettie, wrestling with the question of what will happen to the land that has been in Nettie’s family for five generations. [Actors pictured at right]

“Their dilemma is a common one as established farmers grow gray and neither their children nor grandchildren plan to return to the family farm.  By bringing this issue to the stage here in Illinois, The Land Connection hopes to stimulate discussion about the issues and options for farmers, their land, and their communities. This play ends with no clear answer, but gives the audience plenty to reflect on and talk about when the curtain falls.

“All performances start at 6:30 p.m., feature local food, and are free and open to the public.” The play is at St. Matthew Lutheran Church, 2200 South Philo Road in Urbana. 

(See later dates for the play repeated in Springfield)


April 6, 13, 20, and 27

Farm Breakfast, Prairie Fruits Farm and Creamery, 9 a.m.12 p.m.

Prairie Fruits Farm and Creamery will continue to host farm breakfasts until the end of April, when the Urbana Market at the Square begins. During the breakfasts, you will be able to purchase freshly made breakfast items by Culinary Institute of America-trained Chef Alisa DeMarco, and eat inside the barn. Several fresh farm items, including produce, cheese, and gelato, are available for purchase at the farm as well. Also, see the newest addition to the farm: the three little pigs (pictured here).

Menu this Saturday:

  • Buttermilk Biscuits and House Made Triple S Pork Sausage Gravy
  • Spence Farm Grit Cake with Chevre, Tomato Pesto, Poached Egg and Blue Moon Greens
  • Bowl O’ Goat Milk Yogurt, Granola and Honey
  • Spiced Brown Butter Yeast-Risen Streusel Coffee Cake
  • Ham and Ricotta Tamales
  • Kids Pancakes
  • Goat’s Milk Cinnamon Spiked Hot Chocolate
  • Columbia Street Coffee

April 7 and every Sunday after

Brunch service at Big Grove Tavern

Big Grove Tavern recently began brunch service on Sundays. Stop in to try their new brunch menu, which ranges from small bites, like scones, to full sweet or savory breakfast items, including a version of the horseshoe.

April 8

New Beer’s Day at Big Grove Tavern

“Join us on Monday, April 8th, for New Beer’s Day as we remember the repeal of prohibition on beer. 80 years of good beer and good times. All 20 oz. drafts will be $5 and $2 PBR Tall Boys.” 


April 9

Wine to Water/Just One Shift Charity Event

Several bartenders at Jupiter’s at the Crossing and Billy Barooz will be donating their tips from this evening to the worldwide Wine to Water/Just One Shift charity to provide clean water for those without access to water. Just $1 can provide water for a year to an individual, and the goal of the bartenders is to raise more than $800. 

See our article in the food section on Monday, April 8, for more information about the specials and this charity.


April 9

TIMES Center Benefit Night at The Blind Pig Brewery 

“The Blind Pig Brewery will be hosting its 2nd Annual TIMES Center Benefit Night. Join us as we raise money to help the homeless men in the Champaign area. The Cracked Food Truck will be outside the beer garden as well to serve up some eats! The TIMES Center is a Transitional Living program serving homeless men in Champaign County. Clients receive an array of supportive services to help in preparation for independent living. The program also supports a community soup kitchen serving 3 meals daily, 7 days a week.

“Once again, we will be featuring an Illinois draft line-up you can’t find anywhere else in town. We will update the tap list as we get the kegs!

  • Haymarket Pilsner
  • Emmetts McCarthy American Red
  • Emmetts Victory Pale Ale
  • Local Option Dampf Loc
  • Local Option Voku Hila
  • Half-Acre Daisy Cutter
  • Half-Acre Over Ale
  • Rolling Meadows Springfield Wheat
  • Rolling Meadows Lincoln’s Logger

“Last year you helped us raise over $4,000 for the TIMES Center. Once again, all wages, tips, and sales will be donated to the Center as we hope to raise even more money this year.

**Special thanks to SJ Broadcasting for promoting this event and to the Cracked Food Truck for serving up some delicious food**


April 12

Pure Wine Super Tasting Benefitting WEFT Radio at Buvons

Corkscrew and Buvons will host a spring “super tasting” with Pure Wine company to benefit WEFT community radio. Plus, we will have a silent auction for some very special items. The event will be held at Buvons from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. on April 12. Tickets will be $15 a person and includes appetizers from Blackdog. Special discounts will be available but tickets are limited so please call us at (217) 337-7704 to purchase your tickets.

There will be nearly forty wines from worldwide to taste that originate from the Pali Winery (Steve Grass), August Wine Group (Tim Freehan), Campbell Fine Wines (Laura Keun), Vino del Sol (M.T. Gavigan), and Pure Wine (Wes Schemmer).


April 12 

Spice Box Dinner, “A Night of Simplicity”

See description of Spice Box Dinner on April 5. This dinner is called, “A Night of Simplicity.”


April 18

Left Hand Brewing takes over taps at Blind Pig Brewery

“All 10 guest taps at The Blind Pig Brewery will be taken over by Left Hand Brewing Company … and Left Hand representative Mike Walters … In addition, there will be a special 5 p.m. tapping of a Left Hand Milk Stout firkin infused with Columbia Street Roastery coffee.”

Tap List:

  • Fade to Black, Vol 4
  • 400 Pound Monkey
  • Stranger Pale Ale
  • Week Sauce Coffee Porter
  • Milk Stout Nitro
  • Sawtooth Ale
  • Smokejumper Imperial Porter
  • Polestar Pilsner
  • Ambidextrous Step 3 Ale


April 19, 20

What Will Be Your Legacy by The Land Connection

“All performances start at 6:30 p.m., feature local food, and are free and open to the public.” The play is at U of I Extension, 700 S. Airport Drive in Springfield. Actors pictured on left.

(See description on April 5 and 6 for more information)



April 19 

Spice Box Dinner, “Southern Hospitality” 

(See April 5 for further description of Spice Box dinner)


April 23

Stolpman Vineyards Tasting at Sun Singer

Sun Singer is hosting Peter Stolpman from Stolpman Vineyards for a sampling of their wines from 5:30–7:30 pm. “Join Pete as he educates, illustrates & demonstrates all things Stolpman — from the vineyards, the winery, and of course the wines. Discounts will be offered on all wines tasted during the event.”


  • Sauvignon Blanc 2010
  • La Coppa Blanc 2009
  • La Cuadrilla 2009
  • La Coppa Sangiovese 2009
  • Estate Syrah 2010
  • Hilltops Syrah 2009


April 26

Spice Box Dinner, “Flights of Food”

(See April 5 for further description of Spice Box dinner)

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