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Friday, March 24, 2006

Doughboyz

People looking for reviews and information on Doughboyz should head over to Lincolnite. Mr. Wilson has been there three times and has a review focused on the Chipotle Orange Shrimp pizza as well as a more comprehensive review of the restaurant.

Wednesday, March 22, 2006

Housekeeping

It's been too long and plenty of people have been reminding me I haven't posted anything for awhile. I've been feeling kind of blogged out and basically quit updating my other blog for good.

Anyway, before I get started back into posting on my dining experiences in and around Lincoln I'd like to point people to Berch on Food, a food blog by Bay Area lawyer, Michael Berch. I first stumbled across it a couple of years ago while looking for reviews of local restaurants. He likes the food in Lincoln and Omaha quite a bit and was here last month. He offers an omnibus review of several places including The Oven, The Black Crow, M's Pub, and Venue. Thanks to Michael's friend, Maggie, for inspiring me to write something.

Readers know how much I love The Oven. I haven't been to M's Pub in years and my only visit to Venue was underwhelming. I intend to get back at some point though. As far as The Black Crow goes, it used to be one of my favorite restaurants in the state, but my last visit over a year ago was kind of disappointing. Contributor Jack Jackson visited The Crow recently and reported the following.


The Black Crow

By Jack Jackson

Yeah, I know the Black Crow is in Beatrice, which makes it an odd place to review for a blog called “Eatin’ in Lincoln,” but here we go, and there we went.
I wanted this to be a more positive review, but it just can’t be. I wanted it to be a more positive review than it is because The Black Crow was one of the first truly fine dining experiences I’d ever had about ten years ago. But that was a learning experience and I’ve learned a lot about food since then, and my expectations have become sharper.
The first problem I had tonight was that this whole week featured a Valentine’s Day menu. That’s fine. The menu wasn’t a big shift, but it was noticeably less creative, emphasizing steaks. There were no nightly specials.
The main problem with Valentine’s Day Week is that they literally litter your tablecloth with that shiny paper confetti and ribbon. Through no fault of my own, (or maybe entirely because of my doings), I’m sure I ate at least two pieces of this confetti. The confetti sticks to your hands and it falls on your food.
The next problem is the main problem with the Black Crow: service is terrible, and it seems to have gotten worse. We (a table of three) waited more than five minutes after seating to be offered bread or water, and no one came to decant the bottle of wine I’d brought. The restaurant was not that busy, and I recognized at least three of the staff from years before, so they have experience. Do they simply lack discipline and precision?
The next disappointment was the bread. Normally it is good, but tonight it was way too dry and flaky, crumbling to the touch. We had to ask for butter, and that took awhile, too. Some time ago, they shifted from always bringing butter with bread to bringing olive oil with bread. This shift is a major downgrade, and we should not have to ask for butter with bread.
Next disappointment: my companion’s orders were screwed up. They ordered two identical entrees, one medium-rare sirloin with mushrooms, the other a well-done sans mushrooms. You guessed it: the medium-rare was served without mushrooms and the well-done was served with. The server vociferously dressed-down his helper in front of us and that was embarrassing.
The garlic mashed potatoes served with their steaks were unbelievably dry, and lacking in taste. They were hard to swallow they were so dry. The chef must make them hours ahead of time and let them roast in an oven. They never used to be that poor.
As for my entrée, it was excellent. I had a lamb leg with a parmesan-jalapeno polenta. I didn’t think I would like the polenta, but it was a nice flavor match with the lamb. The lamb shank was a very large portion (it was a whole leg, after all), and it tasted very fresh. The jalapeno polenta was not hot spice-wise, and gave an interesting combo pop in the mouth.
But does the poor service ruin my entrée and eating experience? I suppose. I don’t think it’s worth going back, since there are so many restaurants in Omaha that can do service and food at the same time. I’ve had below-average service at the Black Crow nearly every time, with the one exception being when I knew the server. But I want to be more positive, because I think the head chef, Ray Arter, is a hard-working, talented guy.
And that shows up nowhere better than his desserts. I suppose it would be worth a trip to eat just desserts, because the caramel bourbon sauce was and always will be, in Ray’s own words, “The bomb.” Actually, I think he said, “Yeah, that shit’s the bomb.” I had cinnamon apples covered with a puff pastry with caramel bourbon sauce and a fresh scoop of ice cream. My companions had some kind of chocolate blast brownie bomb taste-ation of a beastly thing, with the caramel bourbon sauce and even a Belgian chocolate sauce. Both were excellent, excellent, excellent.
But then both are topped with that whipped cream in a can that comes from the dark side of the moon where we also get Velveeta and Cool Whip. If you’re going to make an awesome dessert from scratch, can someone please, please explain to me why you cut corners and spray that white fluffy science project on the top? I say shame on all pastry cheves who do that. Make some fresh whipped cream. It’s not hard to do, because I can do it.
The prices are reasonable, but the service sure doesn’t match the price. I wish the Black Crow would spend more time educating their servers, or possibly remove a couple of tables so that the service could become more excellent. Until the service improves and those mashed potatoes get better, I probably won’t be back, even though I want to go.