Friday, Levi, Natalie and I drove over to Champaign to eat and watch Woody Allen's Blue Jasmine. We started at Dublin O'Neil's. A modest sized pub, the interior adorned with brick made to look like old stone and wood and big iron lighting almost makes you forget you're in Illinois. We decided to go there because I keep meaning to stop in and because it was right around from the theatre. What we discovered was O'Neil's offers one on the most cohesive and cross-the-board Irish menu I've ever seen in the area! Shepard's Pie (with actual lamb!), Fish n Chips (where the fish looks like it used to be a fish and not a fritter), Bangers and Mash and black pudding all graced the menu! I was so excited, I had no idea what to order!
Our waitress was very knowledgeable and sweet-letting us take our time with the menu and even walking us through their beer list-well balanced between Irish and non-Irish selections. I chose the Triptych Summer-Dinkel, a local brewery's seasonal Hefe-style beer. I found the balance of such a new brew surprising! Too often new breweries try to impress or make a statement with creating pretentious heavy-everything with too many flavors flying at you at once. The Summer-Dinkel was light, refreshing, great with my food and had a wonderful balance of flavor without taking over. I will definitely order it again!
Natalie and Levi both settled on the Fish n Chips, but I was having a hard time deciding between the All-Day Full Irish Breakfast (genius!) and the Fisherman's Stew. The waitress recommended the Fisherman's Stew and I know better than to argue with someone who has been this solidly knowledgeable thus far into our experience. Our food arrived and unfortunately, I was so mesmerized by my own plate-I forgot to get a shot of Levi or Natalie's fish before it was too late! That's the thing with doing what I do-you have to make sure your camera is faster than your hungry boyfriend!
My dinner arrived and was beautiful! I love any chef who leaves the shells on the seafood and makes the guest do the work! Slipping the clams and mussels out of their shells I was overtaken by the fun I was having! Interactive food in highly underrated as we are too eager to just grab a fork and dig in! To commune with your food is a lost activity-one food enthusiasts are trying to turn around and grill fanatics are experts in. My portion of stew was not huge, but it was so incredibly satisfying with the warmth, the mild spice and eating with my hands-I would not want for some time.
After dinner, we went over the The Art Theatre to see Blue Jasmine, Woody Allen's new film. For those who found Woody Allen through Midnight In Paris, this is not his mainstream work. This movie is the quirky, anti-climatic process that make many people pass on his movies. What was great about Blue Jasmine was watching the characters move through the world in their imperfect and often embarrassing selves. Woody has a way of writing a character in 360-that few others have been able to do. Simply breathtaking.