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Crane Alley

Crane AlleyCrane Alley

Taps: 19 / Bottles: 150
Cask: N / Beer-to-Go: N
BA SCORE
91
outstanding

16 Ratings
Ratings: 16
Reviews: 15
rAvg: 4.09
pDev: 8.56%
$$$ - a bit pricey


[ Bar, Eatery ]

115 W Main St
Ste 1
Urbana, Illinois, 61801-2722
United States
phone: (217) 384-7526

visit their websiteWebsite view map and get directionsMap @cranealley

Notes:
None, yet.

(Place added by: Jables)
Place: Ratings & Reviews
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Ratings: 16 | Reviews: 15 | Show All Ratings:
Reviews by mynie:
Photo of mynie
mynie

Indiana

3.94/5  rDev -3.7%
vibe: 3.5 | quality: 4 | service: 4 | selection: 4 | $$

An enjoyable but unremarkable little joint. Only, it's not so little so much as it's narrow, and once you get past the bar is just keeps going and going, into a dining area and then even up some stairs, to a little drinkin' cove where private parties are sometimes held.

Ahh, the joy of a smokeless bar. You Illini (is that the right term? Is Illinoisians better?) don't know how good you got it. Places just don't seem very packed when there's no smoke around, so even though this place was pretty busy, it wasn't uncomfortably busy. The vibe is a little bit upscale but not quite pretentious, and the crowd was about ten years older than the kids at the Blind Pig.

What else is there to say? Not much, actually. The atmosphere and decor are intentionally pedestrian--nothing upsetting, nothing unpretty, but also nothing that makes it stand out. And that's not a bad thing, since I got nothing to complain about, but it's also not a good thing since there are plenty of other places in the area where you can get a good beer. The tap list was solid and wide; even if there were less than ten selections, there was still a beer for every mood. No rares or one-offs on tap, but the bottle selection had a few gems.

11-23-2010 22:30:17 | More by mynie
More User Reviews:
Photo of NateMac13
NateMac13

Illinois

4.75/5  rDev +16.1%

10-28-2013 03:12:12 | More by NateMac13
Photo of JstnP
JstnP


4.43/5  rDev +8.3%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4 | food: 4.5 | $$$

A little bit on the expensive side, but they have plenty of beers in a comfortable environment. They could use a little more on tap I suppose, but their bottle selection is generally excellent. It's located in quiet downtown Urbana, well away from the usual U of I crowds. Like someone else said before me, the crowd here is about 10 years older than at Champaign bars like the Pig. It's also a very big building, so it's easy to snag a back corner table far away from everyone else if you want a bit of solitude.

Food is pretty good, but I've had better for cheaper. Above average for sure, but maybe not the best bang for your buck.

03-30-2012 20:08:46 | More by JstnP
Photo of CaptainNomihodai
CaptainNomihodai

Illinois

4.45/5  rDev +8.8%
vibe: 5 | quality: 4 | service: 5 | selection: 4 | food: 5 | $$

This is the best bar in the Champaign-Urbana area. Clean and well lit, the bar area is occupied mostly by pool tables and some seating. There is a nice semi-secluded area with more restaurant-ish seating as well (but you get table service wherever you sit). There are a couple of TVs, but the sound is off (a good thing) and the music is quiet enough that you can actually talk to people. Ultimately I find it a very comfortable establishment with a friendly and inviting atmosphere.
The beer selection is probably the best in the area, though obviously not as good as some of the Chicago bars so I can't give them a 5 for that. They have 19 taps, one of which is reserved for PBR but the rest are consistently high quality. This isn't the most taps in the area, and they could use more, but as far as I'm concerned it's not the number of taps but what you're pouring from them that counts. They also have an extensive bottle selection with a few things that you might not have expected to find.
My only real complaint is that they use the fake 14oz pint glasses, so I docked them a point on quality.
I've always received excellent service, and the staff is very friendly often going above and beyond what would normally be expected.
Crane Alley is also a nice restaurant, serving food much better than what you would normally expect of a bar. The food is fairly standard American (soup, salad, burgers, steak, etc) leaning maybe a bit on the "fancier" side. I personally recommend the calamari and the Reuben. That being said, they can get very creative with the food specials, serving some eclectic dishes which are most certainly not "standard American" but are always delicious (especially during the Summer when they can source fresh local ingredients from the farmer's market). If I could afford it, I would probably eat there every day.

Full disclosure: I don't work at this place, but I probably spend more time there than some of the employees.

05-10-2011 16:53:01 | More by CaptainNomihodai
Photo of Gonzoillini
Gonzoillini

Illinois

4.03/5  rDev -1.5%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4.5 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4 | $$

Crane Alley is fast becoming one of my favorite spots to grab a good beer if I want to watch a sporting event.

The atmosphere is a combination of things, beer bar / pool hall / and restaurant. The front room has a long wood bar that runs the length of the room. 3 or 4 pool tables are opposite the bar, with a few scattered tables in the bar room. TV's are on (muted usually w/ subtitles) above the bar, usually tuned to Chicago sporting events or ESPN. The back room has a more formal dining area and doubles as a room for large groups. The upstairs has another bar (that is only used for private events and such) with a few more tables and pool tables.

The service at Crane is hit or miss. On a busy weeknight or weekend it is going to be crowded and your going to wait for your next beer or course. I always prefer sitting at the bar because the service is so much better than dealing with the wait staff on a busy night. I am a part of the Champaign Urbana Beer Club that meets on the 3rd Wednesday of every month at Crane. Our service for our large group (that spends large amounts of money) has been very spotty lately. However, if you come during off peak hours and sit at the bar you will not be disappointed.

The selection at Crane Alley is varied. They have fewer taps than either Radio Maria or Blind Pig, but they have a massive bottle list. However, all three bars seem to have similar tap lists at the given time. I would guess they have about 13-17 taps at a given time.

The food at Crane is pretty solid, mostly pub food that consists of burgers, chicken sandwiches, salads and the like. However, their specialties are usually pretty amazing, and they have some solid upscale appetizers.

The value at Crane is pretty solid. They usually have some daily deals ($4 samplers on Monday, $1 of Dogfish head on Wednesday, $1 off all draft beer on Sunday, etc...), and the prices are in line with other local bars.

Overall a very solid restaurant / bar that works for many different groups of people. I make it my go to if I want to catch the Cubs / Bulls / Hawks while sampling some new and exciting beers.

04-27-2010 22:40:37 | More by Gonzoillini
Photo of emerge077
emerge077

Illinois

3.93/5  rDev -3.9%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$

The only place that was open on Labor Day in Urbana, so we stopped here for a bite and a beer. Inside it was dark with dark wood on the walls, and brick red paint towards the back. Bar on the left, tables on the right, 3 pool tables, then more intimate booth seating in the back. A second floor mezzanine level overlooked the entire space. During the day the crowd was laid back, but it seemed they had the capacity for mad college throngs. Bathrooms weren't so clean.

We opted for a table outside, literally in "Crane Alley". There were planters and hanging baskets, lights strung in a criss-cross pattern high above the alley. It had a nice relaxed feel to it.

Inside, bar service was a bit slow initially due to an indecisive couple choosing a 4 beer flight. Took almost 10 minutes to get acknowledged, but the tender was very good after that with samples and quick pours. My other knock on the service though was the 12 oz. cheater "pint" with the thick glass at the bottom. Lame.

Hop 15, St. Amand, FFF Pride & Joy, 2 Bros. Moaten, Rogue XS Imp. Stout were all on tap, with Arcadia Jaw Jacker on cask. The bottle list was long and well rounded, grouped by style with brewer, state/country of origin, and ABV listed. Only 3 lambics, but I applaud them for carrying Boon Kriek at least. A ton of IPA/Pales, Stouts, obscure imports like Nøgne Ø. There were also a few nice specials, like $4 beer flights on Mondays.

Food was great, spinach salad had a nice balsamic vinagrette with gorgonzola and toasted walnuts. Salmon crostini was tasty and nicely presented on a bed of greens. The rotating taps/cask paired with quality food will bring me back here someday.

09-08-2009 16:20:06 | More by emerge077
Photo of champ103
champ103

Texas

3.8/5  rDev -7.1%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 2.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$$

This is a place I visit often when I come back to central Illinois. A nice bar with pool tables, and an area upstairs. There is a nice beer garden in the alley next to the bar. There are plenty of goodies on tap and in bottles. The last time I was there, Hail to the Chief (how appropriate for Champaign/Urbana), Storm King, Hop Devil, and several Dogfishhead beers were on tap. Along with a couple of German beers. The bottle list is a bit more extensive with the highlight being Ola Dubh 12. The food is great. Lots of sandwiches and several other entrees that are top notch. They have the best fish sandwich in Champaing/Urbana. About the only thing I have to complain about is the service. The waitresses are slow and don't always get the order right. Besides that a great place to quaff some quality beers in downtown Urbana.

09-24-2008 03:34:04 | More by champ103
Photo of Gehrig
Gehrig

Illinois

4.5/5  rDev +10%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | food: 4.5 | $$$

A terrific place to go with a very good beer selection, Crane Alley is nestled in Urbana's small but sometimes lively downtown. Featuring a good variety of drafts and definitely bottles, it provides plenty of different micros, while regularly rotating in new kegs. a nice feature is the upcoming notices, giving advance word on what drafts to expect in the coming days. The food is rather good and, while sandwich heavy and a bit pricey, is of very good quality. There are several pool tables, the wood interior makes for excellent ambiance, and there is a decent-sized upstairs loft for small parties. This is the first place where I had Affligem.

Well worth spending some time here if in Urbana-Champaign. Definitely recommended.

03-02-2008 20:14:20 | More by Gehrig
Photo of klewis
klewis

Ohio

4.5/5  rDev +10%
vibe: 4.5 | quality: 4.5 | service: 4.5 | selection: 4.5 | $$$

A very pleasant atmosphere. Dimly lit with a classy type of look and decor. With an absence of the loud music typical of the campus bar, I actually found myself talking softly to my company. A big plus of this place is its menu, which features not only lots of wine and mixed drink selections, but has an up-to-date listing of all of the draft choices and even a "coming soon" listing. Draft selection featured a great lineup of brews of various styles and origins and the bottle selection was equaly diverse. Prices were reasonable, but perhaps a bit high. Service was fast and friendly. Highly recommended.

12-16-2007 20:10:37 | More by klewis
Photo of Blupoet03
Blupoet03

Illinois

3.68/5  rDev -10%
vibe: 4 | quality: 4 | service: 3 | selection: 3.5 | food: 4.5 | $$$

Crane Alley is a relatively new bar, as far as Urbana bars go. It is smoke-free, with outdoor seating available. It hosts many pool tables (and a pool league).

During dinner hours, a host(ess) will greet you at the door and seat your party. The food menu is varied and good - classy enough for a date but wont completely break the bank. The bottled beer menu is exceptional and the tap variety is good.

Service is great for a restaurant, but not all servers will know much about the beers. Most can tell you what is on tap without looking, though. Considering that we want to focus on the beer here, I had to mark them down for that.

Overall, Crane Alley is a great place to hang out or take a date. The food is good, the beer selection is above average, and they run good specials if you like Guinness and Harp.

A beer tasting group is rumored to meet in the upstairs section once a month. From what I hear, people bring in their own selections based on a theme or style, but I don't have details... Anyone who does is more then welcome to beer mail them to me!

07-10-2007 21:56:13 | More by Blupoet03
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Crane Alley in Urbana, IL
91 out of 100 based on 16 ratings.