Took the Hooligans to Houlihan’s

Allison had her blue coat ceremony today, with Jamie, Quinton, Amber and myself in attendance. The ceremony was held at the I-Hotel and it only made sense to dine at the hotels restaurant, Houlihans. The restaurant, I assumed to be along the lines of of a Bennigan’s, Chili’s or other pedestrian style chain restaurant, I wasn’t setting my expectations high. The restaurant did have a lovely outdoor dining area, and as it was a beautiful August day, so that’s where we chose to sit. The menu was eclectic, and more “gourmet” than I expected.

We started our adventure with Parmesan Frites, and if you know me at all, you will know that tiny, crispy fries, with a variety of different aoilis are my weakness. The fries did not disappoint. Thin, crisp, covered in a buttery Parmesan, with chipotle aioli, tangy tomato & garlic parmesan dipping sauces. They were delicious.

We set in to order our entrees. I ordered Chipotle Chicken Nachos, Nachos with all the fixins and a chipotle-cheese sauce. Quinton chose the Korean chicken, with gochujang (a savory, sweet, and spicy fermented red chili sauce), charred pineapple brown rice, pineapple relish and garlic green beans. Amber ordered a chicken breast, stuffed with garlic-herb cream cheese, veggies, and a huge pile of mashed potatoes. Ashton opted for the Southern California Fish Tacos, which were panko-breaded North Atlantic cod, with a chipotle mayo, napa cabbage, honey cumin dressing, and sour cream. Allison, to whom we were celebrating, ordered a french dip along with more of those delicious french fries.

The food was really good, but a bit on the pricey side. Averaging about $12 an entree, it is a bit more expensive that local restaurants around here, but the food was good, and the service was exceptional. The most unusual thing we had was the pineapple infused brown rice that came with Quinton’s entree. The pineapple made the rice dish more sweet than savory, but still an interesting compliment of the spicy Korean Chicken. The ambiance of the patio was nice and we enjoyed a nice evening. I would recommend a stop if you are even in the area. Not sure why you may find yourself in the burbs of Champaign-Urbana in the shadow of the University of Illinois, but if you are, stop into Houlihans,

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