Tag Archives: Chocolate Cake

Salt 88

August 14, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

This article appears in July/August 2015 Omaha Magazine.

The local dining scene has come a long way in the last decade. These days there are so many great restaurants in Omaha it is becoming hard to keep track of them. I remember a time not long ago when I could count the great Omaha restaurants on both hands. Now I have to keep a voluminous list because there are so many. I’m not complaining. This is a good problem.

One restaurant that has earned a place on that list is Salt | An 88 Restaurant. Salt 88 opened in west Omaha two years ago. It features a unique style of Mediterranean cuisine with some interesting modern American elements. Chef John Horvatinovich has done an incredible job of creating a dining experience that can’t be duplicated anywhere else in Omaha.

Salt 88 is also a beautifully designed restaurant. It features a contemporary look with high ceilings, lots of pastel hues, great artwork, and elegant tableware. The space has a formal look to it, but it somehow still manages to feel casual. Don’t let the strip mall location fool you. This is one of the more striking dining spots in Omaha.

On a recent visit my dining partner and I started off by trying The Other Calamaria ($10). It’s called that because they also offer a Salt and Pepper Calamari, which I have eaten in the past and really enjoyed. This time I let the server talk me into trying its cousin. I was not disappointed. The breaded and fried calamari was cooked to perfection, seasoned nicely with sea salt, black pepper, garlic, green onions, lemon zest, and cilantro. It was served with a tasty Asian-style sauce as well as a red pepper aioli-type sauce. We also tasted the Goat Cheese Rangoon ($9). These were fried wonton wrappers shaped like little purses filled with a creamy goat cheese mixture and served with a garlic aioli sauce. For dinner I tried the Plank-Fired Scottish Salmon ($29). This signature dish is served on a mesquite wood plank, topped with a tomato basil sauce and served with grilled vegetables. The salmon had a rich, smoky flavor and literally melted in my mouth. My dining partner had Chicken Terra ($16). This was a juicy grilled chicken breast served with wasabi gouda mashed potatoes and seared fresh spinach. The combination made for a memorable dish.

For dessert we split the Chocolate Cake ($11). This moist, house-made treat consisted of at least seven layers, all smothered in a hot chocolate sauce. It was the best chocolate cake I have eaten in ages.

I was extremely impressed with my meal, and equally impressed with the assistance I received from our friendly, knowledgeable server. She was responsible for recommending all the incredible food I tried, and she brought it out with impeccable timing.

The bar at Salt 88 has a great list of craft beers and cocktails as well as a carefully thought-out wine list that features some of my personal favorites. The server made a great recommendation for a craft beer I had not yet tried and was well versed on the wine list. They also have a robust happy hour every day. It’s not surprising that Salt 88 has earned a prominent position on my list of favorite Omaha restaurants. I am confident once you give it a try it will also be on yours.

The check was accompanied by house-made cotton candy, a sweet touch capping an even sweeter evening of indulgences.


Plank 1

Brother Sebastian’s Steak House & Winery

April 10, 2015 by
Photography by Bill Sitzmann

Originally published in March/April 2015 Omaha Magazine.

It’s no small feat for a restaurant to be successful for so much as a decade. Statistically speaking, very few make it that long. It’s even more unusual for a restaurant to make it for multiple decades.

Brother Sebastian’s is quickly closing in on four decades as one of the top restaurants in Omaha, which puts them in a very elite category. It is a generally accepted fact that to survive that long restaurants have to completely reinvent themselves every seven to 10 years to stay relevant. Brother Sebastian’s brings that point to question since very little about the restaurant has changed since they opened in 1978. This makes me think that if you get it right in the beginning there is no need to reinvent yourself. This place instead just relentlessly focuses on doing everything right every day. It seems to have worked for Brother Sebastian’s.

To test this theory I recently visited Brother Sebastian’s for dinner. As I walked up to the front door while being serenaded by a choir of monks singing ancient hymns, I was quickly reminded of the many great experiences that I have had there over the years. It truly is a beautiful restaurant and designed to look like a rustic French abby that has many different cozy, dimly lit dining rooms. My dining partner and I were seated by a friendly manager at a lovely, intimate booth in a small room that had a giant fireplace in the center. From our table we really could not even see any other tables, which made it feel like we were the only ones in the restaurant even though the place was nearly full.

We started off with an order of Escargot ($8.50) and Shrimp Scampi ($9.95). The Escargot was tender and moist served on a mushroom cap with rich garlic butter sauce. The scampi was also served “Escargot style,” but topped with bubbling Havarti cheese and the same garlic butter. Both were delicious. Next we made our trip to the salad bar, which is included with all entrees. In general I am not a big fan of salad bars and would prefer to have the kitchen make my salad, but this salad bar was as nice as any I have seen, with plenty of fresh ingredients to satisfy everyone’s tastes. For entrees I had the Rib Eye Steak ($27.95) and my partner had the Chicken Picatta ($21.50). The rib eye was served as ordered, grilled to a perfect medium rare. It was appropriately seasoned, very tender, and loaded with flavor. In fact, it was so good that I would go so far as to say it was the best steak I have had dinning out in Omaha in the last several years. The Chicken Picatta was equally good, with a pair of tender breasts of chicken breaded and served over angel hair pasta with an outline of sauteed spinach in a tangy piccata sauce. For dessert we tried the Chocolate Cake ($8.95) and Lemon Cake ($8.95), both house-made. Either of these would have been more than enough to share and boasted four or five layers topped by rich butter cream icing. Both were moist, decadent, and very memorable.

Throughout the evening we enjoyed our server and were impressed with her kindness, knowledge, and timing. The manager was ever-visible, making sure that everything was running like clockwork and that all the guests were enjoying the same great food and service that we were. Not once did we want for anything. Beverage service is also strong with a wine list that is incredibly expansive with just about every variety, style, and region well represented. There is also a good selection of fine liquors and beers.

Brother Sebastian’s has proved to me that it has managed to not only maintain its high standards for 38 years, but it may even be getting better with age! Cheers!