Smile Politely

Neil St. Blues’ Restaurant Week turkey leg is a gigantic meat treat

It’s here! The most foodie week of the year: Restaurant Week. It started this past Friday and will continue all week through Saturday, February 6th.

If you’re looking for recommendations or RW 2021 menus for participating restaurants, check out our preview here

I started my Restaurant Week on Friday with Neil St. Blues. The RW 2021 special is a smoked Cajun-brined turkey leg. The two-pound turkey leg comes $12 a la carte. You can also order a turkey leg basket (turkey leg plus one side) for $16 or for $20, the turkey leg and two sides. 

The exterior of Neil St. Blues from the curbside parking spot on Hill Street in Champaign. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

The online ordering process was easy. The Restaurant Week specials (turkey leg or turkey leg basket) were at the top under Daily Specials. I set my pick up time, and as I was driving down Randolph about to pull onto Hill Street, I received a text from the restaurant that my food was ready. I pulled into one of Neil St. Blues’ curbside spots, and a masked server brought my order to the passenger side window.

I ordered a turkey leg a la carte ($12), and it was gigantic.

A tin foil wrapped turkey leg sits on a white table with the author's white hand in a pink long sleeved shirt is next to it, and less than half the size. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

That’s my hand for scale. The turkey drumstick was heavy, hot, and huge.

A turkey leg from Neil St. Blues is unwrapped from tin foil and dark brown, covered in seasoning. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

It was covered in the classic Neil St. Blues seasoning and smelled amazing when I unwrapped it.

On a white dinner plate, the turkey leg stretches diagonally across it, with the end of the bone sticking off the plate. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

It barely fit on my dinner plate. The size alone was impressive, but the flavor was, too. The meat had Cajun seasonings that gave a burst of spice while the delicious smoky taste dominated. The flavors were developed and deep in the meat, all the way to the bone. The meaty monstrosity was such a fun, primal dinner: holding it like a club and ripping hunks of meat with my teeth. 

A hunk of dark meat from Neil St. Blues' turkey leg is held on a silver fork in front of a navy wall. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

You can certainly use a fork and knife if you like. I cut this piece (with a knife) to show how moist and tender the turkey was. I do want to manage expectations: turkey legs have more tendons and ligaments than a chicken drumstick, but I found it fine. This jumbo drumstick was more than I could finish in one meal — and your girl can eat. It was a novel menu item that I recommend you try while you can this Restaurant Week.

An overhead photo of a dinner from Neil St. Blues in Champaign. There is a turkey leg on a white plate, a burger and fries on a black plate, a cup of coleslaw, and a small plate of fried pickles all on a white table. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

We couldn’t order just a drumstick from Neil St. Blues, so I ordered a side of coleslaw, an appetizer of fried pickles, and my husband ordered the Blues burger with fries.

A bowl of coleslaw sits on a white table. The slaw has purple cabbage, carrots, and green cabbage in a white dressing. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

The coleslaw from Neil St. Blues is one of my favorite sides. Creamy and sweet, this coleslaw ($3) is made with carrots, purple cabbage, and green cabbage in a thin white dressing. It was cold and a perfect contrast to the smoked turkey leg. 

Fried pickles in a takeout container on parchment paper are golden brown with a bit of the dark green skin of the pickle poking through the thin batter. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

The appetizer fried pickles ($6) were insanely good. Neil St. Blues poked holes in the carryout container in addition to lightly wrapping the pickles with parchment paper. When I opened the container 15 minutes later, the fried pickles were still hot and still crispy — which is impressive. The batter was a thin layer of salty, seasoned crunch, and the pickle was an explosion of sour and dill. There were quite a lot of pickles for this appetizer, and we dunked the golden-brown discs in the remoulade sauce provided.

A black takeout container is open to reveal a burger with onion rings as two eyes and half an onion ring as a smile on a Blues burger from Neil St. Blues. The burger is open and on one side, there is lettuce, onion, and pickles. On the other is a burger patty with pulled pork, bbq sauce, and onion rings in the shape of a smile. There is an ample portion of french fries. Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

Photo by Alyssa Buckley.

The Blues burger ($12) came with an onion ring smile that totally made our weekend. This burger had a half pound beef patty with smoked pulled pork, barbeque sauce, and onion rings with your choice of lettuce, onion, tomato, or pickles for free. Fries come with the burger, and they are solid takeout fries: still crunchy and hot even after a drive.

Everything we had was good, but the smoked Cajun-brined turkey leg is only available through Februrary 6th, so put your order in here this week.

Neil St. Blues
301 N Neil St
T-Th 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.
F+Sa 11 a.m. to 10 p.m.
Su 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.

Top image by Alyssa Buckley.

Food + Drink Editor

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