December 31, 2013

I'm starting to have some pretty warm fuzzy feelings for El Rey. With no less than three trucks, two restaurants (one in Lincoln) and now a delivery car they're really scratching my itch for tacos, tortas and burritos these days.
El Rey Delivery Car!
Locations include:

  • Restaurant (402-502-0674 for delivery) @ 5201 S. 24th St., Omaha, NE 68107
  • Truck #1 @ 30th & Leavenworth Streets (Supermercado parking lot). 
  • Truck #2 @ Saddlecreek & Cumming Streets (Advanced Auto Parts parking lot).
  • Truck #3 @ 72nd Street & Rose Blumpkin Drive (Sports Authority parking lot). 

They even have a website with menu! (Get ready for the music though). And I think their food is really good to boot. Definitely looking forward to calling in a delivery order someday soon since Omaha is relatively deficient in good delivery options as far as I'm aware. 

December 30, 2013

Time for a much needed review update of Benson Brewery!

Last night's dinner varied greatly from our first experience during restaurant week - in a good way - the whole meal was was absolutely stellar. Kudos to the new chef!

Jarred Olives & other tasty tidbits
We started off with beer flights again (how could you not?) And while I wish I could tell you which varieties I thoroughly enjoyed this time, it was almost more fun to leave the picking in the hands of our very capable server.

Three appetizers started off the feasting...

Peppadew Poppers with chevre | prosciutto | chilies, Craft Sausage Platter with house-made mustard and pickled carrots, and the star of the show... White Rabbit IPA Jarred Olives with spent grain bread | select local cheese (more pickled carrots and onions!)

While the poppers were prepared slight differently than last time, they were no less intriguing. But the olives really shone. Something about beer and olives maybe? Or was it the crusty bread? The charred jalapeno with goat cheese?

Who cares?! It was so, so good.

The entree I decided on - with a bit of guidance - was Steak Frites, with its sweet sweet Dunkel jus and pan roasted Nebraska hanger steak, cooked a perfectly medium rare. Oh yeah, there were also some amazingly crispy yet fluffy house frites and an over-easy egg too.


Ultimately a pretty fantastic meal that I'm hoping to repeat soon.

Steak Frites. Look at that delicious mess!

December 27, 2013

We've finally arrived. 

Omaha's first EVER Yelp Elite event took place in a secret location under the cover of darkness where we were schmoozed with free food and drink the like of which you'd be hard pressed to find anywhere else!!!

Or something like that. 

But seriously, this is big time. It's on the Yelp Community Blog and everything! Look at the glorious things that come from having a local Community Manager. (We're just extra lucky to have one as friendly as Will).

Having no other Elite events to compare to [yet] I'd say this one was pretty top notch. Any chance to revisit the birthplace of Lucky Bucket's pre-prohibition style beers is a welcome opportunity in my book. Plus, Localmotive came out of hibernation for a quick visit and brought some tasty tidbits!

There were many faces there, both familiar and new. This really is leaps and bounds from the first ever get-together I tried to orchestrate which ended up to be me and two other people. And this one was better in a way because I didn't have to do any of the planning. 

But seriously, I've actually made some legit friends through my Yelping and look forward to opportunities like this to meet more. 

Now, on to the goods. 

Sample Season is Open! (Guest appearance by Edible Omaha Magazine).
Interpreted Chicken Sandie 
These are a few of my favorite things...
Here's the beef.
Somebody's watching... 

December 26, 2013

When I left Toast I was very unsatisfied...

So much so that I even considered going somewhere else afterwards. Like a drive-through.

Not very usual circumstances for me at any restaurant, because I generally over-order... this time thought I was a conservative, with a cup of soup and half sandwich (wrap).

[Side note: I wish somebody could explain to me why a bowl of soup substitution costs two dollars while fries are free. Is it the cost of ingredients or the effort involved, or both?]

Soup and a wrap and a pickle
Anyway, philosophical musings aside, what I ended up ordering was the Burlington (after several minutes of hurried musing. Everything looked great! I couldn't decide!) with a cup of the tomato basil soup on the side and a pickle.

Food showed up quickly. So quickly I barely had time to sip on my mason jar of water.

But then I felt like Clara Peller (of 'where's the beef' fame)... because... where's the chicken? Seriously.

That's a wrap. Tomato wrap
I would've pointed this out to someone, but wasn't specifically asked the ubiquitous 'how is everything' question because it was lunchtime, and everyone was busy. (Also the reason I didn't specifically seek someone out). I was hungry, after all, and also busy, so I bolted down the soup and vegetable wrap then headed back to Omaha.

To review the food I actually ate, I'd say the tomato and lettuce were pretty good.

The previous reviews, the atmosphere, the menu, the service, all still make me think I had some kind of terrible fluke experience. So I'm going to keep Toast on my bookmarks list to try again next time I'm in Lincoln.

Besides the wrap situation there seems to be so much potential here, but for now I can't with good confidence give a higher rating. Until we meet again Toast...

So much promise, but the delivery was off. 

I was very excited to try Over Easy, there's no other word to describe my feeling now but disappointment. Going down the list it definitely pushes all of my buttons, in theory. 

Locally-sourced ingredients - check! 
Creative take on breakfast classics - yes! 
The interior had me at chalkboard
Reclaimed barn wood walls with local art and warm friendly staff - oh yeah. 

But sadly, the dried out rosemary on the table is what set the tone for some of the meal. 

Let's get the rough bit out of the way first...
Starting off with breakfast blasphemy, the cinnamon roll was hard as a rock &  impossible to cut with a fork. Between 3 of us, we didn't bother finishing it. 

Sad Cinnamon Roll... why can't you be as good as you look?

Bill and I went halfsies on biscuits and gravy and the egg boat, which took the back seat, I felt, as it was again - dried out. And the spicy dipping sauce was sadly just blah.

Coffee was very decent though, and I enjoyed several cups of the Christmas blend (jingle... jolly... something like that). I've had three Christmas blends in as many days and they're starting to run together. 

Coffees and Rosemary
My entree (vegetarian biscuits and gravy) was very unique. No need for the offered side of bacon though - because I'm good with egg protein and this was served with two, over easy eggs atop a mound of vegetable gravy and herb biscuits. If the biscuits were dry also, I don't know (thanks gravy!). This was an enjoyable spin on a breakfast classic. Who would've thought gravy with shredded vegetables would be a win, but it was!
Vegetarian Biscuits & Gravy & Eggs
The absolute best thing we ate however were the potato-hash rounds. Bacony, cheesy, blessings with caramelized onions rolled up and fried. Glorious! 

I could've eaten a whole plate of those (and wish I had) because the distance factor makes it challenging for me to make a return trip. Our road-trip out here didn't really leave me smiling all day, as a good brunch will do. 

December 25, 2013

From these four ingredients, eggnog will spring forth. Amazing, but true. Generally I'm happy with the carton but I heard about this recipe on NPR from Garden and Gun Magazine's "Handy Guide to Surviving the Holidays" and couldn't resist... from the article:

This recipe comes from Mimi Bowen, who grew up in Memphis and who owns a fabulous New Orleans boutique that bears her name. The recipe comes from Mimi's grandmother and namesake Myrium Dinkins Robinson via her aunt, Lynn Robinson Williams, whom Mimi calls the 'Auntie Mame of Memphis.' 

Aunt Lynn, who died in her bed on her ninety-sixth birthday with both a cigarette and a glass of
champagne in hand, sounds like someone I would've actually enjoyed spending the holidays
with. Well into her eighties when she finally passed the recipe along to Mimi, she put it in the
mail with a note reading, "For your file. Don't lose it." I reprint it here exactly as she typed it.

2¼ cups sugar
12 large egg yolks
8 cups whipping cream
Pour bourbon into large mixing bowl. Stir in sugar and let sit several hours. Overnight, if you can wait. Beat egg yolks until they are an ugly yellow color. Fold them into the bourbon and sugar mixture. Let sit for two hours if you can wait. Whip the cream until very stiff, fold into the bourbon and egg mixture. Let sit for one hour if you can wait. Mixture may be cut in half if you are clever enough to know how to divide 2¼ by two! Serve in cups. Serves 20-30 people.
Nutmeg not permitted! ENJOY.
So I began the saga yesterday morning with sugar and bourbon. Simple enough, pour sugar into bourbon and mix. Let it sit. It might seem like a lot of sugar and bourbon. Well, it is. One whole bottle, to be exact, was more like 3.5 cups. But it was plenty boozy in the end.

Several hours later, the sugar had started to dissolve into the booze. I only let it sit for 3 hours or so. Not sure how much better it could get if you let it sit overnight, but maybe worth a try.

Next up, separating egg yolks and beating to an 'ugly yellow color'. I wasn't really sure what that meant, but wanting to stay true to form I did all the whipping and beating with a wire whisk. Next time I'll probably use a hand crank mixer at least. My shoulders really got a workout yesterday. I also have a Tupperware container full of egg yolks in the fridge to make omelettes with tomorrow.

At this point, I noticed the recipe says it serves 20-30 people. Some easy math showed we were only going to have 5 people over for Christmas Eve so I think this will be traveling with me today around town. It might also sneak into my coffee this morning after I finish writing this post...

Anyway, it was time for more sitting. For some reason I thought now would be a good time to cover it up also.

Then more whipping. The cream... oh lord the cream... Thick enough to begin with, this was more serious work than the eggs, as you might expect. Unfortunately from this point I didn't have a punch bowl - so I had to use two pitchers to contain it all.

So much eggnog.

And so thick. So luscious. So boozy.

Look at the legs on that...

Ultimately I will definitely make again, but I might take a stab at Alton Brown's recipe, which uses whole milk and egg whites in addition to the yolks and cream.

Happy Holidays!!!

December 23, 2013

Full disclaimer, I'm already in love with Tasty Pastry. Like, twice in one week love. But why not? It's even getting better... When they're constantly announcing new pizzas like 'white mushroom pizza with b├ęchamel sauce, swiss cheese, garlic confit, mushrooms and fresh jalapeno'. How can I hold back the 5-stary review? A quick jump from 4 to a very solid 5.
White Mushroom Pizza - yes, it's real.
It's ridiculously affordable, it's crazy good, it's quick, it's convenient and damn, it's Tasty.

My love for this little place has grown exponentially over the course of the last month.

From ever-expanding and exciting pizza flavor combinations (white mushroom pizza w bechamel sauce, swiss cheese, garlic confit, and fresh jalapeno!) to ever-changing soups served cafeteria style and some kind of magical slaw recipe to go with the chicken sandwich... not to mention the restaurant namesake pastries.

These things have catapulted this place into my top 5 Omaha restaurants. Keep up the great work!

Recently, I ate lunch at a restaurant connected to a gas station.

No, it was not anything with the words 'country' or 'diner' in it. This was Omelet & Viet Cuisine! (Those words alone should spark your interest...)

But apparently gas station restaurants are the next big thing in cuisine ( but believe me, I'm as shocked as anyone that I'm writing a 5-star review for a place with those 'car wash' flags out front (though these say 'Pho Here' or something like that).

Go figure that Omaha is on the cutting edge of new food frontiers!

I'm so intrigued by the breakfast situation that there's no way around it, I'll have to make the drive to have an omelet also. Since they open at 8am most days (closed Mondays) this is the perfect excuse to get my vermicelli on early and start the day right!

What we did have on this trip, spring rolls, vermicelli and bahn mi were great and fresh (the fresh jalapenos were a surprising kick in the face also). Strange that there were no prices on the menu, but it wasn't out of order with what I'd expect. Something in the range of $20 for 2 people (lunch). The vibe and the music were pretty much spot on with this promotional video I found for the restaurant. Trippy.

Absolutely a unique concept (good food from a gas station?!) and one of the only Vietnamese restaurants I'm aware of in this area of town, as far as I'm aware, so if you're looking for some fresh and tasty food in West-O I'd recommend a trip to this gas station any day!

If you're still unconvinced, check out their website for some teaser photos. Not much better than a giant bowl of pho on a cold winter's day...

When I 'sleep in' or eat a big dinner Saturday nights, I cherish the opportunity for a gourmet brunch. These places will serve it up right and set you on your way to Sunday Funday!

Reservations are generally recommended, as Omahans love their brunch. All of these places start slingin the grub at 10am sharp.

  1. Lot 2 Restaurant Wine Bar - Bourbon for Breakfast, Bloody Mary & PBR, oh yeah, and the food... Chicken & Waffles was probably the best I've ever had. 
  2. Railcar Modern American Kitchen - Get going early here, 9:30am start. Chilaquiles or Lemon Ricotta Pancakes... why not both?!
  3. Jackson Street Tavern - From the moment they served me fresh blackberries in my fruit cup, I was sold. From there, it's all good.
  4. Kitchen Table - Get the bread of the day, probably no matter what. The roasted cauliflower, dried apple and blue cheese levain lingers on my memory to this day. 
  5. Taxi's Grille & Bar - Great Crab Cake Bennie, all the typical breakfast offerings. Or meatloaf.
  6. Dario's Brasserie - Crepes and Oeufs for all. Also frites.
  7. Dixie Quick's - Bonus points for opening at 9am! Negative points for having to cross the river.
(Commemorative shout-out to Tommy Colinas Kitchen. Still not sure what happened there, but they would've easily been on this list only a year ago). 

September 02, 2013

Ordering was a little cumbersome since the giant TV I'm assuming is supposed to serve as a menu board was out of commission. We perused the paper menu when we got up front and settled on 5 different tacos. 

I had to head to the bar to order a beer though... must be some kind of liquor law thing?

Starter was chips and salsa (which I was a little worried would show up at the same time as all our other stuff) but surprised me and arrived at the table early. Chips had a nice spice and the salsa was good. 

The tacos we ordered were Smoked Brisket, Baja Shrimp, Barbacoa Beef, Short Rib, and Alligator. 
smoked brisket taco
short rib taco
barbacoa beef taco
Beyond the Alligator and the Shrimp, we had trouble distinguishing which taco was which. (An issue we had in common with the employee who delivered the tacos).

I didn't read the full descriptions when I ordered and was pretty surprised to see the Alligator and Shrimp tacos. Especially the shrimp... With a name like 'Baja' I'd expected fresh lime, pico, avocado, etc. What we got was popcorn shrimp with a lettuce/cheese explosion. The Alligator was dressed similarly. 

Those two tacos were essentially unpalatable. 

The beefy offerings fared better, with decent flavor and toppings. The leader of the pack for me was the Smoked Brisket, with re-fried beans and jalape├▒os. 

And if anyone from Voodoo is reading this that can do something about it... Please pay some attention to the shells. We lucked out and didn't dare order corn, but were less than excited by the cold flour tortillas. 

I feel that the taco shell shouldn't just be a vehicle to get fillings in your mouth,and that the tortilla should have a little something as well. Namely heat, at a minimum. 

For a total of nearly $30, I would've hoped for better. (Especially since yesterday we spent $13 at a food truck and had a 5-star quality tacos and tortas). 

It's an interesting concept, but for me Voodoo Taco just doesn't compete with the real thing.

Voodoo Taco on Urbanspoon