When Seattle-area transplants Darrell and Laura Auld opened Twisted Cork Bistro in 2008, the cozy restaurant near 107th and Pacific streets accommodated just a couple of dozen guests and was open only at lunch. The owners have since added dinner service and Sunday brunch, made changes to the kitchen staff, and expanded the space.
What hasn’t changed, however, is Twisted Cork’s commitment to showcasing the bounty of what the Midwest and Pacific Northwest have to offer. The motto on its website states, “Always natural, always wild,” and that’s still a big part of the bistro’s appeal a decade later.
Open daily, the restaurant focuses on natural, locally sourced food. The menu emphasizes fresh produce from area growers, handmade cheeses, and locally raised meat from Nebraska and Iowa farmers and ranchers. The eatery also embraces ingredients from the Pacific Northwest and Alaska, including fresh seafood and a lengthy list of wines exclusively from Washington and Oregon.
The paper menu, which folds like a map, boasts several salads, soups, sandwiches, small plates, and larger entrees. Burger fans may want to try Twisted Cork’s beef-and-pork-based burger, which Food Network Magazine listed in its “50 States 50 Burgers” in 2009.
For our weekend dinner visit, my dining partner and I took our taste buds on a culinary trip that started in Nebraska with a selection of locally produced cheeses and ended in British Columbia with a chocolatey dessert based on a classic Canadian treat.
Perfect for sharing, the bistro’s cheese board features a trio of artisanal cheeses from Branched Oak Farm in Raymond, Nebraska, along with sliced baguette, sesame crackers, and a variety of accompaniments. Visually appealing and full of textural variety, the cheese plate is arranged with thinly sliced pears, honey, fig spread, mixed nuts, and a cluster of grapes.
Other scrumptious bites can be found among the small plates, like the Whidbey Island Shrimp—four perfectly cooked jumbo shrimp served with sliced avocado, grapefruit segments, and a drizzle of sauce similar to Thousand Island dressing.
Falling into the would-order-again category, a scallop entree featured three plump sea scallops that arrived beautifully seared, tender, and moist. Accompanied by lemon beurre blanc and sriracha, the sweet, buttery scallops were topped with a zesty gremolata—a condiment made with fresh herbs, citrus, and nuts—that cut through the richness of the seafood.
A side of charred Brussels sprouts and a scoop of jasmine rice, both excellent, accompanied the scallops. Cooked in vegetable stock, the rice was so good I could have eaten a bowl of it. Don’t let it go untouched.
We also sampled a Piedmontese rib-eye from Lincoln. The grass-fed, pasture-raised beef is leaner than its grain-fed counterpart due to less marbling, but it’s still flavorful. Perfectly cooked to the specified medium rare, the hand-cut, 14-ounce steak is seasoned with a house rub and served with roasted potatoes and asparagus.
Diners who save room for dessert can choose from several decadent sweets, all made in-house. With its smooth, luscious filling, a slice of caramel pistachio cheesecake was rich but not heavy. Chocolate lovers will want to try a Nanaimo bar, a quintessential Canadian treat named after the city of Nanaimo, British Columbia, just north of Washington. The bistro’s version of the three-layered bar features a nut and wafer base, a middle layer of creamy custard, plus chocolate ganache on top. It’s super-rich, fudgy, and gluten-free.
Twisted Cork’s combination of talented chefs, eclectic fare, and warm, welcoming service make for an inviting dining experience that highlights the best of land and sea.
Visit twistedcorkbistro.com for more information.
This article was printed in the September/October 2018 edition of Omaha Magazine. To receive the magazine, click here to subscribe.