October 14, 2014

As of December 2013, Dolce has switched ownership. Not sure if this change is immediately apparent to some, but for me two of my favorite things about the restaurant were apparently closely tied to the previous ownership.

Gina Sterns (of pastry fame), originally opened the restaurant in summer of 2011, and during this time, I frequented Dolce for lunch due to convenience, yes. But also because they had my favorite sandwich in town...the Goat Cheese Chicken Panini. And, yes, the cupcakes were also to die for.

The restaurant was sold to Jason Kuhr and Tyler Mohr, owners of J.T.K. Cuisine and Cocktails in Lincoln. And it took me a really long time to return. Under Stern's ownership, I visited Dolce around a dozen times. Never did I visit for dinner. My previous review was based on all those successful lunch visits, plus a birthday cupcake special order.

I will agree that the location is kind of awkward compared to where I'd expect to find a cafe like this... but this area of town is severely under-served for this type of fare and I think it's a welcome addition.

Hopefully it's here to stay because Dolce is 5 minutes from my office and I've been the past two days for lunch (which I think is saying something as well).

Yesterday I had the Zucchini & Asparagus salad with added Salmon for a $3 up-charge. Today was the Goat Cheese Chicken Panini. Both were delicious, well presented, and light with underlying healthful sneakiness. They were also both accompanied by their house focaccia bread and what I'd describe as rosemary chips with balsamic vinegar and olive oil as a complementary appetizer. Both times the owner came by to greet our table, chat a bit, etc as well.

Today was also the first time I got to sample one of their cupcakes (also the almond sour cream cupcake that Dennis had). I thought the frosting quantity was perfect, but some might say I'm a frosting fiend so take that for what you will. The best part about the cupcake was that it was only $2! Much cheaper than I could say for some other cupcake places around town... and, yes, tastier.

I don't think I'll be driving over here during non-workdays, but this will be my go-to lunch spot from here on out. Strong statement, I know, but I really appreciate the concept and the mission statement, which ends with 'The Art of Eating."

Under the new ownership, I've only been twice. Part of this is because they stopped serving lunch on the ownership change. And only in 2014 (I think) did that start up again). 

But now it's time to update my review. 

The Yelp reviews really tell an interesting story. Of the 46 current reviews, 25 were under the previous ownership and 21 are under current ownership. Starting with just an average, pre-sale average rating was 4.4 stars, with a post-sale average of 3.7 stars.

Pre-sale ratings break down like this: 
  • 5-stars - 19  (73%)
  • 4-stars - 2  (8%)
  • 3-stars - 3  (12%)
  • 2-stars - 1  (4%)
  • 1-star - 1  (4%)
Post-sale numbers: 
  • 5-stars - 9  (43%)
  • 4-stars - 3  (14%)
  • 3-stars - 5  (24%)
  • 2-stars - 1  (5%)
  • 1-star - 3  (14%)
Anyway, enough with the data. 

I recently bought a Groupon for a Prix Fixe dinner at Dolce since I was apparently feeling nostalgic and on doing, noticed they're open for lunch again!

Squash Soup for lunch
Sadly, the menu has totally changed. Gone is my favorite goat cheese and chicken panini and other lunch staple salads (not to mention mac & cheese with the option for meatballs), replaced with a warm goat cheese salad (with option to add chicken) and/or sandwich options of Muffaletta or Annunziata ... And a $25 lunch, including tax and tip.

Warm Goat Cheese Salad w Chicken
The food was still good though, I really liked the soup, but the salad showed up... differently... than I'd imagined. Unlikely I'd order it again.

I'm used to feeling cheated when it comes to beets and salad, but not lettuce. The goat cheese croquettes were placed on sliced roasted beets, with a sprinkling of arugula. (In case you're wondering, the chicken is the piece in the middle).

... and yes, we also split a bread pudding for the table. That was delicious.

Bread pudding with caramel and ice cream
The new bar back is a classy touch, but I still think the hostess stand is somewhat awkwardly placed. Not sure if there's even a better place for it, actually. I wonder if not having one is an option. 

Anyway, on to our trip for dinner. I last-minute realized the Groupon was going to expire soon, and we headed out west on a Tuesday evening to sample the 'Date Night' menu. (Tuesday, Wednesday or Monday... I can't remember now). I hate the looks you sometimes get at nice places when using Groupons, so I like to announce that I have one right away and get that out of the way. Who knows if it effects the service or not, but I know we'd all like to think 'not'.

In this case, our server was attentive and friendly. Not too much, not too little. Good, I'd say.

We started our meal with the 'Taste of the Moment', a salmon tartar concoction I forget the name of now. Whatever it was, the moment was fleeting because we polished it off pretty handily.

Starter, Taste of the Moment
Next up, Soup du Jour, a smoked tomato. Really pretty special with a bold smoky flavor. All it needed was some bread... which we asked for (and received). I have no idea if the rolls are made in house, but they really didn't do it for me - this coming from an admitted carbaholic. (Don't get me wrong, I still slathered it with butter and ate it all).

Next up for entrees were the Tuscan Steak (a tender 6 oz. kobe flatiron) and the Pan Roasted Chicken. Both dishes were presented very well, and had solid, hearty flavors indicative of the fall to come. I preferred the meat in the steak dish and the sides in the chicken, personally. What I originally wanted to try, the Kobe Ragu, took a back seat to an either-or recommendation request in which the chicken won out when I asked the server.

Tuscan Steak
Pan Roasted Chicken
Dessert was, once again, the star of the show. Dark Chocolate Mousse with rosemary toffee, gluhwein syrup and fresh berries. (And to save you on the Googling, 'gluhwein' is a German mulled wine). It all went down very nicely to round out the experience.



The new Dolce is something unique and one of the better restaurants in West Omaha. Unfortunately my recent meals here haven't lived up to what I loved about the original, but they're forging their own path, and I think it's a welcome one.


Dolce on Urbanspoon
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