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Sunday, February 17, 2008

9 South Chargrill

I finally made it to the 9 South Chargrill last week. I was really impressed with what they've done to the old building on the northwest corner of 9th and South. What was it before? A used car lot? Or had it just been abandoned for a decade or so?

I beat my friend I was meeting by a good ten minutes so I had plenty of time to pore over the menu. When faced with 18 sandwiches that all sound good what does one order? One thing that stood out was the Certified Angus Beef® mark in the description of every single menu item made from dead cows. It's becoming a pet peeve of mine because with the marketing push by the American Angus Association and the involvement of Hardee's, McDonald's, and numerous other fast food chains, the appellation has become almost meaningless. True, to be "certified" a beef must be at least 51% black Angus and have a decent degree of marbling along with other more obscure characteristics but it's mostly hype. It really doesn't matter when you're eating a burger or a Philly anyway, but if you're ordering a Certified Angus Beef® rib-eye or tenderloin and it seems like a deal ask the server if the cut is prime, choice or select (this observation comes from working in a restaurant that sold lots of rib-eye specials that were choice for about $13 less than the prime rib-eye on the menu).

Maybe it was the Angus backlash that caused me to order the grilled tomato sandwich, but seconds after I ordered it I was kicking myself for ordering a tomato sandwich in February. Those bruises were for naught. It was served double-decker, like a Big Mac, on marble rye. The tomatoes were crusted with parmesan and grilled and the asiago was melted between the tomatoes and bread. After I'd ordered I was expecting basically a grilled cheese sandwich with some pink mush for filler. 9 South must have a good tomato source because the tomatoes actually tasted like tomatoes and they weren't mushy or mealy, even after the grilling. The waffle fries and cole slaw that accompanied the sandwich were great as well, especially the fries.

That's another thing I like about 9 South. The sandwiches come with two sides. I'm one of those people who can't resist ordering fried potatoes when offered so it was a bonus that I was able to get a little roughage too.

I'd been meaning to get there forever but was wondering if I'd ever make before the inevitable. The fact that they managed to stay open through the South St. construction and the normal growing pains of opening a new restaurant is a good sign for independent restaurants in Lincoln. Judging from the lunch crowd at noon on Thursday, they won't have much trouble staying in business.

I'll be spending a few hours tomorrow and Friday at Newark Liberty International airport so for anyone who ever flies to NYC or points beyond via the tiny Continental jet out of Omaha, I hope to have some food tips for you next weekend.


Anonymous Mr. Wilson said...

I'm a big 9 South fan. For me, the only downside so far is the tight squeeze between tables. Had they constructed the restaurant new I would hold that against them. But not only did they choose to open in a neighborhood that needed a pick-me-up, they did it by remodeling a gas station / car lot. For that, I'm happy to call the close quarters "cozy" rather than "cramped".

8:34 AM  
Anonymous foxspit said...

I like 9 South Chargrill too. For many of the same reasons as Mr. Wilson. But also because of the baked potato. I ordered it with beef and it was an ACTUAL steak they cut up on it and it was cooked to order. Yummy!

Can't wait to try the tomato sandwich now.

3:50 PM  
Anonymous Wisco said...

I tried 9 South shortly after they opened and felt it was "ok" but I'll have to give it another try and bring along my vegetarian Wife this time for a good Tomato Sammy.

Thanks for the review :)

3:38 PM  
Anonymous Mr. T said...

I ate there this weekend and had a good meal. I am a fan of reuben sandwiches and tried theirs. It was good, but I have had better. I still believe that the burgers there are among the best in town.

I totally agree with you on the waffle fries there. They are great. A good waffle fry is fried to perfection, which means a thin, crispy coating on the outside and hardy potato in the middle. Far too many places fry the hell out of their waffle fries to the point where they are waffle fry-shaped corpses of crispy oil and the potato is almost gone.

The fries at Nathan's Famous are possibly the best in the nation in my experience.

10:58 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

From the 9 South Chargrill website:

1-2-2008 All Burgers can now be made vegetarian with a black bean patty of course hold the bacon.

So no need to just order the tomato for you Angus haters.

5:25 PM  
Blogger Swoof said...


Are you a Black Angus marketing shill or someone from 9 South? I'm hoping the former. I'm not a vegetarian so I don't need black bean patties instead of meat. By no means would I ask anyone to "hold the bacon." If everything came with bacon I'd be happy.

The Angus comments you're offended by are based on my experience with the marketing power of a certain group of beef producers. Black Angus is such a vague appellation that it doesn't mean anything when Hardee's, Jack 'n the Box, Whattaburger, Carl's Jr, etc. are serving hamburgers they proudly advertise as "Black Angus."

Why repeat the phrase so often that it ceases to mean anything? If you're serving good meat people will know and tell others.

7:51 PM  
Blogger Buffmeat said...

I love the 9 South Char!! The best selection and it is very kid friendly too.

4:18 PM  
Anonymous Grill fan said...

I believe 9 South has "certified angus beef" all over the menu because it's a specific product they sell, and are asked to promote it. They also want you to know they're selling quality meat, unlike a certain buffet "restaurant" that just opened across the street. (cough cough)

I love 9 South, and although I know many of the employees, I'd love it even if I didn't. They've lasted for over a year, and business keeps growing. Be sure to appreciate the hard work the employees put in to make it a successful place; it means way more to them than just a job!

3:56 PM  
Blogger mr_omaha said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:50 PM  
Blogger mr_omaha said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

2:58 PM  
Anonymous brett said...

This is from owner of 9 South Chargrill race is never a facttor in service at the grill. We strive to inclusive adn welcoming to everyone. As to the Certified Angus comments I am a member of the Black Angus Association and Have 4 generations of beef producers in my family including me. Yes it is a marketing campaign but it truly is a higher quality Angus then the standard Black Angus

4:13 PM  
Blogger Jon and Angela said...

Broccoli Cheddar Cheese and Rice soup today at lunch was water, milk, broccoli, cheddar cheese and uncooked rice. It was terrible!

4:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I had the worst dining experience of my life at this horrible mud hole. The waiter did not know the menu & argued, then ridiculed me. The place smelled like a burnt corpse & the silverware was dirty. Horrible service. No stars, no love.

1:45 PM  

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