(function() { (function(){function b(g){this.t={};this.tick=function(h,m,f){var n=void 0!=f?f:(new Date).getTime();this.t[h]=[n,m];if(void 0==f)try{window.console.timeStamp("CSI/"+h)}catch(q){}};this.getStartTickTime=function(){return this.t.start[0]};this.tick("start",null,g)}var a;if(window.performance)var e=(a=window.performance.timing)&&a.responseStart;var p=0=c&&(window.jstiming.srt=e-c)}if(a){var d=window.jstiming.load; 0=c&&(d.tick("_wtsrt",void 0,c),d.tick("wtsrt_","_wtsrt",e),d.tick("tbsd_","wtsrt_"))}try{a=null,window.chrome&&window.chrome.csi&&(a=Math.floor(window.chrome.csi().pageT),d&&0=b&&window.jstiming.load.tick("aft")};var k=!1;function l(){k||(k=!0,window.jstiming.load.tick("firstScrollTime"))}window.addEventListener?window.addEventListener("scroll",l,!1):window.attachEvent("onscroll",l); })();

Friday, January 29, 2010

Favorite Sandwich?

Lincoln seems to have a severe shortage of sandwich places so where do you go to eat a sandwich?

Lately I've been addicted to the grilled pork banh mi at Vung Tau at 27th & Y. Even if I get a big bowl of pho or noodles I usually get a sandwich to go for later. You can't beat it for $2.75.

Tuesday, January 05, 2010

CheeseSteak Grille

This isn't going to be a full review since they just opened yesterday and I just sort of stumbled across it while I was out running some errands.

CheeseSteak Grille next to the gas station on the NW corner of 16th and Old Cheney. I had noticed Mi Guadalajara closed awhile ago so the new sign grabbed my attention. I drove up into the parking lot for a closer look and surprise, they were open.

I went in and ordered a cheesesteak combo with a 20 oz. soda and fries for $5.95. You can get the sandwiches with either chicken or steak. Besides the regular cheesesteak you can get your sandwich with optional sauces including Thai, Teriyaki, Fiesta (enchilada sauce), atomic and BBQ.

My sandwich was better than I was expecting to be honest. A lot of places make sandwiches with cheese and steak on them and call them cheesesteaks but they're dry and bland. This sandwich was moist and cheesy all the way through. It was served on a nice fresh, crusty grilled hoagie roll.

It seems to be a family-run place which I like. The young woman who took my order confirmed that it was not a franchise. I should have asked more questions but I'll leave the bio and background for the LJS.

For some reason this location has been bad for restaurants. In the past two years Doozy's and Mi Guadalajara have been there with no success. Considering the proximity of Fiserv-ITI, Design Data, Time Warner Cable, Black Hills Energy and several other employers there are probably at least 2000 people working within just a few blocks on a daily basis.

One of the challenges for restaurants in that location has probably been the lack of separation from the gas station. There was never a wall or door, just a low divider. Former co-workers of mine would scoff when I told them to eat at Mi Guadalajara because they said it felt like they were eating in the gas station. That's no longer the case. There's a full wall with a glass door separating the two now. It definitely made the place feel more like a restaurant.

It's definitely a place worth checking out.

Friday, December 11, 2009

Five Guys Burgers & Fries

There's a law of the internet, Godwin's Law, which states: "As an online discussion grows longer, the probability of a comparison involving Nazis or Hitler approaches 1." In my limited experience in online food and cooking forums something similar applies in that any discussion of regional fast food restaurants will eventually turn into a Five Guys vs. In-N-Out flame war, which is just another variation on the East Coast vs. West Coast rivalry that has raged for decades.

Five Guys, of course, is no longer just an East Coast phenomenon now that franchises are opening in places like west Omaha. There was quite a buzz around the opening and if you take a look at their press page that buzz was well-deserved. Five Guys restaurants don't have freezers. All the burgers are made from fresh, never-frozen ground beef and the fries are prepared from potatoes on-site from the cases of potatoes you can see stacked all over the store. I was on my way home from the airport the Sunday after Thanksgiving and decided to stop in and see what it was all about.

The Five Guys in Omaha is located in the strip mall anchored by Hy-Vee just north of 132nd and Dodge at 697 North 132nd Street. At 1:30 on a Sunday afternoon the place was absolutely packed.

The first thing you see when you enter is the giant box of peanuts in the shell which you're invited to snack on while you wait for your food. An unnecessary gimmick in my opinion but for those who can't even wait 5 or 10 minutes for their food those peanuts must hit the spot.

Ordering should be simple since the menu consists of burgers (regular or little) either plain or with cheese and/or bacon, hot dogs, a veggie sandwich and fries. What complicates the ordering process is the toppings, all of which are free. The toppings include:

* Mayo
* Relish
* Onions
* Lettuce
* Pickles
* Tomatoes
* Grilled Onions
* Grilled Mushrooms
* Ketchup
* Mustard
* Jalapeno Peppers
* Green Peppers
* A-1 Sauce
* Bar-B-Q Sauce
* Hot Sauce

As tempted as I was to create the biggest, sloppiest burger I could I decided to create a "Western" burger instead, ordering a regular bacon cheeseburger with grilled onions, mustard, pickles and Bar-B-Q Sauce, along with a regular order of fries.

The wait was 7 or 8 minutes. You can stand at the counter and watch the workers assemble the burgers which is a pretty impressive process. Nothing sits longer than it takes to add the toppings and bun so your burger is still hot when it goes in the bag without the use of any heat lamps.

Five Guys states that their burgers are cooked well-done AND juicy. My burger was pretty good, nice and beefy, but it wasn't very juicy; a little on the dry side to be honest. I was a little disappointed but the toppings covered up the dryness to a certain extent. The fries were really, really good, nice and crispy and golden with decent seasoning, though I wish they had a size smaller than regular which is enough for two people. One complaint with the the fries is that they put them in a cup so the ones at the bottom get soggy from the condensation. This wasn't a problem in my case since I couldn't eat them all anyway.

People should be aware that the regular-sized burger is a double burger. If you only want one patty, order the "little" burger.

Five Guys' website states they're opening 200 stores in 2010 so I wouldn't be surprised to see one show up in Lincoln this year. I'm sure it would do well though I can think of four or five local places I'd rather go for a burger.

Thursday, November 19, 2009

Hey Lincoln!

I have lots of restaurant reviews stored up from the last 18 months or so. Most of them are timely and concern Lincoln and Omaha restaurants.

There'll be posts covering what I eat, which is currently kashi and/or quinoa with vegetables, or sardines with just about anything.

Let's see how this goes again.

Saturday, January 10, 2009

The Boiler Room

No, not that room under the Westerburg High School gym and not that place where Ben Affleck berates Giovanni Ribisi with Glengarry Glen Ross quotes, but a new restaurant in Omaha. Sadly, it does not appear to be a Brazilian steakhouse.

From the press release:
Master Sommelier and Nebraska native Jesse Becker has joined Chef Paul Kulik in his newest venture, The Boiler Room Restaurant in Omaha, Nebraska. Becker returns to Omaha after working as a sommelier in some of America’s best restaurants, including Michael Chiarello’s Tra Vigne, Charlie Trotter’s, and NoMI at the Park Hyatt-Chicago. He spent the last two years at the James Beard Award winning restaurant Frasca Food and Wine in Boulder, Colorado, during which time he passed the rigorous Master Sommelier exam, making him one of 168 people in the world to achieve this distinction.

The Boiler Room is a collaboration between Chef Paul Kulik and the Mercers, the visionaries behind the Old Market arts and dining district in Omaha. Chef Kulik, also an Omaha native, returned recently from working in Berlin and Paris and has previously partnered with the Mercers as former chef of La Buvette.

“I am thrilled to be back in Omaha and to have found colleagues like Chef Kulik and the Mercers,” says Becker. “They have done an amazing job with the space [a former boiler room in the old Bemis Bag factory] and we share an aesthetic for pristine ingredients, prepared without flourish, and wine service that is simple, excellent, and unassuming.”

The Boiler Room will be an ingredient-driven restaurant inspired by “chalk-board menus” where plates will vary constantly, and with a preference for organic produce and meats. The wine list will focus on French country wines and will open with 80 to 150 selections.

The Boiler Room, in the Old Market, 1110 Jones Street, Omaha, Nebraska www.theboilerroomrestaurant.com

Sunday, November 30, 2008


Jesse sends this photo in response to my last post. L'Ortolan doesn't actually serve ortolan. That would be illegal.

I bet if Jesse knew the secret handshake he could get a face full of ortolan under his napkin.

Wednesday, November 26, 2008

By request - Tastee Inn

Jesse and Elizabeth are still in Europe, probably somewhere near Avignon by now, but they've apparently grown tired of horse meat, forcemeat and Ortolan. Jesse emailed this morning requesting a Tastee Inn review and since I was going to be in the north 48th area anyway, I was happy to oblige.

The only rule of Tastee eating, and this must be observed, is you have to get your loosemeat sandwiches to go. Either use the backwards drive-thru or go in and get them. Do not eat them in the restaurant. This cannot be stressed enough. Tastees need a good ten minutes in the bag before they're ready to eat. Go ahead and eat your onion chips while you're waiting. That's what they're there for.

While waiting for 10 minutes is good, the best way to judge when your Tastees are ready is to hold the bag about a foot above a table top or counter. If your sandwiches fall through the bottom of the bag, they're perfect. Don't remove all your sandwiches from their wrappers at once. Spending more time in the wrapper only enhances the taste so your last one will be, at minimum, at least 40% tastier than the first assuming you eat at least three.

I haven't had a Tastee in about three years and I really didn't realize how much I missed them. They're so simple - ground beef cooked until it breaks into little granules, a thin layer of mustard on the bun, and a dill pickle chip - and so delicious. They're not as greasy as you'd expect since most of the grease is either cooked out or at the bottom of the bag, but the buns get nice and soft from what they've soaked up.

Most of the recipes on-line call for extra seasonings and mustard and ketchup mixed in with the beef but I prefer the Tastee way, beef, salt and pepper. Anything else crosses the line into sloppy joe-hood, which is a different, but still delicious sandwich in its own right.

My only complaint about Tastee Inn is the price. At $1.45 each, those little sandwiches are a tad pricey. Of course, much more labor goes into preparing Tastee meat than in making a regular old hamburger. As a firm believer in rewarding good labor, I'm willing to accept the increased cost.