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Bacaro

113 N. Walnut St.
Champaign  Illinois  61820
United States
(217) 398-6982
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Midwest Living Review

Robert Loerzel
An elegant wine bar and restaurant, Bacaro serves inventive dishes using ingredients from local farms.

Bacaro opened as a wine bar in 2001, and there's still an impressive rack filled with wine bottles on the wall behind the bar. But Bacaro has blossomed into a full-fledged restaurant, serving a seasonal menu that uses local produce, meats and cheeses from Champaign-area sources such as Blue Moon Farm and Prairie Fruits Farm and Creamery. The restaurant has a sleek, cool design, with dark purple walls and a silver-painted ceiling. The tables are covered with white tablecloths and lit with disc-shape oil lamps. The wall of the men's room has framed covers from vintage men's magazines such as "Playboy" and "Rogue." Because the menu changes depending on what's in season, it's hard to predict precisely what will be offered, but typical entrees include pan-roasted sea bass, braised veal osso bucco, seared sea scallops, grilled rabbit loin, pan-roasted duck breast and grilled ribeye, each with a creative combination of ingredients. The crusty slices of bread that come with every meal are served with butter in a little ceramic bowl that resembles an avocado; there's black sea salt on top of the butter, an interesting touch. The salads are excellent, including a simple dish of greens, in which every leaf seemed to be coated with just the right amount of the slightly sweet vinaigrette. During our visit, everything we tried was excellent except for the slightly disappointing main dish, a shrimp linguini with zucchini and garlic. The pasta and ingredients were fresh and light, but they could have used more seasoning of some sort. For dessert, the almond olive oil cake was fluffy and moist, topped with cool cherry sorbet and chunks of crunchy almond brittle. In addition to wines, Bacaro makes great cocktails, including specials like the Tuscan punch, a deliciously tart drink resembling sangria. Pastas cost about $17, entrees $28, appetizers $8.

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