Tag Archives: yummy

Mahogany Prime

December 4, 2014 by and
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

When you think about that special night out, celebrating a promotion, impressing a client, or perhaps your next anniversary, you want to pick a restaurant like this one.

Mahogany Prime is a restaurant that knows exactly who they are, and they embrace it. It is considered a premium Omaha steakhouse, a place for special events. They deserve the reputation they have cultivated, from making the reservation to the personal “Thank You” as you exit, they hang their hat on impeccable service.

My recent visit was no exception.

When we made our reservation, they asked if we were celebrating anything special. They understand the perfect way to welcome guests is to make their visit personal. Mahogany Prime is decorated like a traditional steakhouse, with dark woods, rich textures, warm colors, and a perfectly set white clothed table. The table and booths are arranged with intimacy in mind, and you feel as if you are the only ones there. It was full when we dined, but not noisy. We were able to enjoy our conversation, something that is difficult in many restaurants today. The lead server greeted us and offered our choice of water before discussing the wine and cocktail offerings. We selected a bottle Terra D’Oro Red Zinfandel from the Deaver Vineyards of California ($45). It was modestly priced and we enjoyed it thoroughly. There is an extensive choice of wines available and the staff is very well trained in assisting with the perfect selection for your preferences. If you want to pick a wine to impress, you’ll find it at Mahogany Prime.

The assistant server arrived to discuss the features of the menu, and her knowledge of the offerings and preparations bore the stamp of a good training program. On this occasion they had three bone-in steaks available, including a Bison steak. Her description of the Lobster Cargot ($29.99) made our selection of the appetizer almost an obligation; we knew we would miss out on something special had we not ordered it.

Just prior to our appetizer arriving they presented warmed plates. Cue the anticipation. In the typical Cargot preparation, the creamy Havarti cheese was toasted perfectly atop succulent lobster in piping-hot, melted butter. And it was served with freshly baked bread so you could enjoy every drop. It was that good!

Next we enjoyed the Mahogany Prime salad ($7.99), a mixture of five greens with slivered carrots, sliced radishes, tomato, tangy goat cheese, toasted candied nuts…all tossed in a house-made creamy parmesan dressing.

As is the way of a steakhouse of this caliber, steaks and the accompaniments are ordered a la’ carte. I selected a 14 oz. Prime New York Strip ($45.99) and my dining partner an 8oz Filet ($39.99). We elected to share the Au Gratin Potatoes ($9.99) and the Fresh Asparagus with Hollandaise Sauce ($12.99).

When our steaks arrived sizzling from the grill and placed in front of us, we were asked to cut into the center of the steak to confirm they were prepared to our liking. Our savvy server looked at my dining partner’s steak and knew it was not as requested. She handled it expertly. Soon a series of managers were stopping by and, before long, the steak was returned perfectly cooked. You might think this would have distracted from a perfect evening, but the staff had been so expertly trained it somehow turned into a big plus. The beef was prime as advertised. The Au Gratin Potatoes were a masterpiece of spuds in a cream sauce topped with seasoned bread crumbs and golden brown cheese. The etherial, lemony Hollandaise sauce was served on the side of the fresh and perfectly
steamed asparagus.

At this point we absolutely could have (and should have) been done, but you can’t celebrate without a little dessert. We selected the house-made bread pudding with Cognac cream sauce to share, but it was a tough choice considering the five layer chocolate cake that was also on the menu. We enjoyed our dessert with espresso before learning that our server had taken the dessert off the check as an apology for the very slightly miss-cooked steak.

I mentioned earlier about the great service fueled by the team-style attention at every step of our visit. The thing about excellent service is that it is competent without being intrusive. It is woven into the fabric of the experience so that you don’t even notice when, say, a server deftly replaces a fork between courses, almost as if by sleight-of-hand.

Give Mahogany Prime a try for your next special dinner. You won’t be disappointed.

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Modern Love

December 3, 2014 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann
If there’s any question about whether Omaha is ready for a new all-vegan restaurant, the first couple month’s of Modern Love’s dinner service seems like a definitive answer.

“We are packed nightly,” says co-owner Isa Chandra Moskowitz. “For the first month we were basically booked every night. So yes, apparently Omaha is receptive to vegan food. It’s awesome.”

The city has been buzzing about vegan food since Moskowitz announced last year she’d be opening a restaurant somewhere in the city—the biggest local news in vegan food since popular lunch spot Daily Grub closed in 2011.

Moskowitz, a Brooklyn native, co-creator of the Post-Punk Kitchen web series and website (with frequent collaborator Terry Hope Romero), and author of eight vegan cookbooks—her most recent, Isa Does It, was released in October 2013—relocated to Omaha a few years ago to be with her boyfriend. After consulting in Omaha’s dining scene, she engineered a meatless Monday menu at the Benson Brewery last year.

A venture of her own seemed inevitable.

“There isn’t a vegan restaurant here, or even really a vegetable-focused restaurant,” Moskowitz adds, “and it feels important to create something like that right in the middle of the country.”

Moskowitz leased the space on South 50th Street next to O’Leaver’s Pub in August 2013. She partnered with Krug Park owners Jim Johnson, Dustin Bushon, Marc Leibowitz, and Jonathan Tvrdik. She then brought on chef Michaela Maxwell, and started renovating.

“I’m still working on the décor,” Moskowitz said after her first month in operation. “I thought it would be better to start with simplicity and build on things when we saw how the restaurant actually looked and functioned once filled with people.”

And the name “Modern Love?”

“The plain truth behind the name was that I couldn’t decide on a name,” Moskowitz says. “As I drove to scout out a restaurant location a few years ago, the song “Modern Romance” by the Yeah Yeah Yeahs came on. And I was like, ‘That’s a great name!’ But friends thought that was a bit much, and it became Modern Love.”

And with Modern Love’s menu of “swanky vegan comfort food,” it makes sense, Moskowitz says.

“It’s comfort food with a modern twist, made with love.”

Some of those modern takes on familiar fare include—for now, as the menu will change every few months—stuffed and fried zucchini blossoms with a zucchini slaw and grilled summer squashes; a modern nicoise salad with chickpea salad and devilled potatoes standing in for the traditional eggs alongside green beans, tomatoes, and olives; a marsala entrée that puts seitan (aka wheat gluten) at the forefront with a root vegetable mash, herbs, and greens; and desserts including pies and non-dairy ice creams.

“The Mac & Shews is far and away the most popular menu item,” Moskowitz said. “It’s our cashew-based mac and cheese sauce, pecan-crusted tofu, barbecue cauliflower and the most amazing sautéed garlicky kale and okra in the world in a tomato vinaigrette. Michaela did a really bang-up job
with that dish.”

For the first month, seating at the restaurant was by-reservation-only, Nice problem for a business owner to have. In order to encourage walk-ins, Moskowitz recently updated her online reservation system so the restaurant is only half-booked on any given day.

“I am not the type of person who’s going to give a speech to convince anyone that vegetables are delicious—which is good,” she says, “because people are just coming in and finding out for themselves.”

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Taxi’s Grille and Bar

October 24, 2014 by and
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Veteran Omaha restaurateur and chef Malcolm (Mac) Thompson opened Taxi’s in 2002 with the late Bill Johnette after their successful run at the much-celebrated Neon Goose. Over the years Taxis’s has also enjoyed considerable achievement and now Mac’s godson, Chase Thomsen, has taken over as Executive Chef. I had not been to Taxi’s for a while, so I decided to make a trip over there and see what’s cooking.

From the outside Taxi’s is not overly impressive, just another Omaha strip mall restaurant. Once inside it becomes obvious that great care is taken to keep this restaurant in top condition with a comfortable, casual, friendly, neighborhood vibe. All of the artwork, tables, chairs, serviceware, and other furnishings are above average quality and look much newer than the dozen years the restaurant has been open. The restrooms are also very impressive and clean. It may sound a little strange to a lay reader, but foodies know you can tell a lot about a restaurant and its operators by the condition of the restrooms.

Now for the best part of Taxi’s…the food! While many of the dishes on the menu spark memories from past dinners at Taxi’s, Chef Chase’s influence on the menu can be seen with several new dishes and some really creative specials. The wine list is well curated. Not too big. Not too small. There are some real gems on that list, and since I was in on Wednesday, all bottles were half price!

I went with the Troublemaker Blend from Paso Robles, Calif. ($20). It was excellent and went pretty well with everything I tried. They also have a full bar and nice beer selections. The service at Taxi’s has always been top-notch, and this visit was no exception.

 

 

 

My dining partner and I started off with the Waffle Fries ($8) and the Dijon Shrimp ($10). The Waffle Fries are basically a creative take on a poutine with a creamy chipotle sauce and melted Gorgonzola cheese. I can sum this one up in one word. Yum! The Dijon Shrimp is served escargot-style in a rich garlic butter topped with bubbling cheese and a crusty French baguette to sop up the butter.

I love this dish because it gives people a chance to see how divine a traditional escargot tastes without having to eat snails in the process, which is a put-off for many people.

I couldn’t have a meal at Taxi’s without having some of their Cabbage and Blue Cheese Soup ($4). This dish never ceases to amaze me. For an entrée, I tried one of the three specials in ordering Bacon-Wrapped Shrimp ($22). These large, grilled shrimp were stuffed with a sliver of jalapeno and wrapped with thick, crispy bacon before being served over Spanish-style rice and topped with a fresh mango salsa.

It was a fantastic combination.

My dining partner went the more traditional route and ordered the Beef Pot Roast ($16) off the menu. This is covered in a rich gravy and is served with Yukon Gold mashed potatoes, sauteed zucchini, carrots, and squash. This could very well be the best pot roast in Omaha. For dessert we sampled the Wild Berry Cobbler ($6). This scratch-made cobbler was served à la mode and was the perfect ending to another stellar meal at Taxi’s.

Many years ago when I was new in town someone told me that Taxi’s is the best neighborhood restaurant in Omaha. That’s a pretty tall order, but in my experience there is a lot of truth to that statement.

Go give it a try and see for yourself! Cheers!

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