10 Aug 2010 @ 5:40 PM 

It seems like all sorts of new restaurants are springing up around Omaha, which is a bittersweet development for the OC and myself. I love nothing more, when we have a chance to go out to eat, than saying “Let’s try somewhere new!.” Sadly, there are far more “new” places than our budget allows us to visit!

To that end, we stopped in to the new Buffalo Rings & Wings at 12240 L Street. We stopped in for a late lunch, so we missed the majority of the lunch rush. After a little confusion amongst the wait staff as to where to seat us, we were given a table, and immediately placed our drink orders. Our server, Luke, was awesome at making sure we had everything we needed, and that we never had to wait for a drink refill.

I ordered their lunch special boneless wings with lemon pepper sauce (5 boneless wings and a side for $5.99), as did our daughter with parmesan garlic sauce, and OC represented all of MANHOOD by ordering 10 mild roasted garlic wings, 15 Original Hot wings, and then an additional lunch special with 5 Original ATOMIC wings (Yes, about half of them went home for the rest of our troops to devour). For sides, we ordered saratoga chips and onion rings.

The wings? They’re good. They’re not spectacular – they don’t stand out as the BEST wings we’ve ever had, but they were good. They were flavorful. They had plenty of sauce and were cooked perfectly, for both the boneless wings and the traditional wings. Heat-wise – they just weren’t that hot. Even the atomic wings – while they did provide some longlasting burn – weren’t that hot. The Original Hot wings would be on par, for me, with a Buffalo Wild Wings Medium hot wing. The roasted garlic and lemon pepper sauces were good, but not spectacular. The parmesan garlic sauce was my favorite of the ones we tried.

The saratoga chips? Meh – they were good chips, I will say that, but they also weren’t anything to write home about. The onion rings, however? PHENOMENAL. They were easily the best onion rings we’ve had in a very long time, and when dipped in the garlic parmesan sauce from the wings? Outstanding. VERY VERY GOOD.

The only down side we felt was that there could be a little more flexibility in allowing customers to select more sauces. OC wanted 25 wings with 3 different sauces, but was told he could only have 2 (as an order of 10 and 15). He would have tried more sauces if he could have broken them out in 5’s – and then we’d be able to rate more of their sauces for you! Unfortunately, it is what it is. I understand it’s easier for them to manage this way, but as a customer, especially at a new place, you want to try all the sauces. More accomodation would be nice.

OH – the other thing that was absolutely fabulous – we had the Xango dessert, which was essentially cheesecake wrapped in a pastry shell and fried, and then dressed with cinnamon and sugar, strawberry sauce, and whipped cream. It was AWESOME.

The atomsphere was great – very uptown sportsbar-ish, with enough tv’s on the walls to make my husband’s ADD-addled head explode. Everything was clean and efficient, and aside from the small issue seating us, everything was perfect. It’s not overly pricey (on par with the other wing places in town), and everything was great.

I give it a solid 4 French Fries – it’d go up if the’d let you mix and match your sauces a little more.

~The Critical Wife

Posted By: The Critical Wife
Last Edit: 10 Aug 2010 @ 05:41 PM

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 10 Aug 2010 @ 5:15 PM 

Mexican food is by far one of my favorite “categories” of food. From time to time, we venture out to South O to check out some of the more “authentic” Mexican restaurants, and we have a couple of less authentic, more tex-mex-y type places around where we live. We are always looking for new places to try – and just happened to find one the other day that we hadn’t known about.

While we were out looking for a new/different place to eat yesterday, we stumbled on Salgado’s Mexican Grill, near 90th & Fort. (It’s in the shopping center where the Shopko is. Formerly Julios, Matt’s Grill, and possibly several other random things.)  Going into the restaurant, it reminded me of most of the other middle of the road Mexican restaurants around here.  Somewhere along the line of Julios or LaFondas, is what I expected. 

We arrived around 12:15, and were seated quickly in an empty section.  Upon perusing the menu, the OC and I were both stumped.  We wanted one of everything.  Salgado’s offers a mix of more traditional Mexican fare, along with Americanized versions of many dishes, and even burgers.   OC kind of twisted it up by having traditional Mexican tacos, but with ground beef and chicken fillings.  (This seriously bummed me out, as I was hoping he’d get asada and carnitas.  Darn him.) 

I went the white girl route with the Burrito Gringo.  People…what they didn’t say on the menu is it should be burrito gringoS.  Plural.  As in there is no way one person can finish that burrito in one sitting.  WOW.

Ok, the food – rather than the standard chips and salsa, Salgado’s serves chips with a selection of salsa, beans, and a spicy pico de gallo.  All of these were good – very spicy on the salsa and pico, but the beans were a little bland (fixed this with salt).  The tacos were great – all they were missing was a slice of lime, which was requested but never delivered.  The dish was two ground beef and two shredded chicken tacos in corn tortillas with onions, cilantro, and radish slices.  Flavorwise, they were awesome.  My burrito was also fantastic, and I ate about 1/3 of it before being completely miserably full.  It was filled with beans, rice, and ground beef, and smothered in melted cheese and sour cream.  TOTALLY wonderful. 

The best part – the burrito bigger than my head was $5.99.  OC’s tacos were 7 or 8 bucks total – can’t remember if he got them as a lunch special or a la carte.  Either way, still cheap.  The horchata they offer….wasn’t memorable.  It had a really perfumey taste I don’t love, but it wasn’t bad.  Service was decent, but a little flighty. 

We will definitely go back.

My rating?  3.5 Napkins, brought down only for service.   If I could give it a 3.75, I would.  Very tasty food, very affordable, decent service (not great).   All in all, good, authentic-ish, Mexican food!  Give it a shot.

Rated by: TheCriticalWife

Posted By: The Critical Wife
Last Edit: 10 Aug 2010 @ 05:15 PM

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 18 Jun 2010 @ 7:13 PM 

Okinawa sushi, at 124th & L. (I can’t find a website for them – sorry!)
As you may or may not have noticed, we’re big sushi fans. Omaha Critic is more about the sashimi/nigiri, while I am definitely more about the maki rolls. But when there’s a new sushi place opening, you can bet it’s on our radar. I hit up Okinawa early in the evening on their grand opening weekend. Now – I will admit, I expected there to possibly be some bumps, given that it was their opening weekend, but it wasn’t too bad. We tried the Gyoza appetizer, which was pretty good. We also tried the california roll (if a sushi place can’t do a cali roll, they need to close up!), a tempura shrimp and crab roll (I think it’s called a rocky roll), the shrimp naruto roll, and the “Golden Eagle”.

The sushi, overall, was good. It doesn’t compete with my favorite sushi place, but it was good, and better than some of the other places locally. The service was fairly good, if not really communicative. The cali, rocky roll, and naruto roll all came out together, and we had quite a while to finish them before the Golden Eagle came out. The Eagle, which we ordered on the recommendation of the server, is a tempura roll with tempura banana and a special sauce. Unfortunately, because that came out quite awhile after our other rolls, we were too full to really enjoy it, and took the majority of it home. (Cold – not so great.)

The restaurant, being brand new, was clean and nice, if a little small. The food was good, and the service fairly decent. My only complaint about this restuarant was that they charged us for refills on our drinks. Normally, this wouldn’t annoy me because most places tell you they charge – but Okinawa didn’t. Also, the server started asking if we wanted refills before we were even half way through the drinks, and did refill them far before they were empty. SO – it was just a minor annoyance, but it bugged me.

I’m feeling 3 stars on this one. Some room for improvement, but not bad overall. We’ll definitely give this one a try another time, and see if that moves up!

Posted By: The Critical Wife
Last Edit: 18 Jun 2010 @ 07:14 PM

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 18 Jun 2010 @ 7:12 PM 

Ok, so again we’re not updating quite as often as I would like, and I have the best of intentions. But you know how it is – life gets in the way.

LIFE, man.

Grand China Buffet – Roughly 112th & Chicago (by Parable book store).
Ok, people. Don’t roll your eyes. It’s a buffet. It’s a CHINESE buffet. Sounds a LOT like China Buffet right across Dodge street at 114th. But you know what? WOW. This place offers the standard Chinese buffet, Mongolian barbeque, and…wait for it…SUSHI! Not the premade sushi a lot of buffets have, but fresh, prepared on-site where you can see it, sushi. I’m not going to lie – it’s not on par with our favorite sushi, but you know what? It’s not half bad! Their buffet is expansive, with many, many selections including some non-Chinese options. My personal favorite? Their coconut shrimp. AWESOME. They also have the standard crab legs at dinner, and all the Blue Bunny ice cream you can handle for dessert! SO – as buffets go, it’s a win. The restaurant is clean, the staff has been very attentive on the several occasions we’ve gone. The food is buffet food quality – but not bad, and plentiful. I’m going to give this one a solid 4 napkin rating. It is definitely well worth it.

Posted By: The Critical Wife
Last Edit: 18 Jun 2010 @ 07:12 PM

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 15 Jun 2010 @ 6:28 PM 

Ok the title is a very obscure inside reference to som old game stuff I used to do… Anyway… Zemog’s catered lunch today downstairs. I got an order of their Nachos and I have to say: Yum. So I stood in line and made my order, the gal started prepping it with pride. Something you don’t see much in food service in this town. At that moment, her whole focus was that $6 plate of food. She took great care to make sure that each bite and chip had the right amount of beans cheese and meat. We chit-chatted a bit and came to find out that they make their own beans and Tortillas. She passed off my plate to the next guy who put on the garnishes and I manged to snake one of these home made tortillas. They were pretty darn tasty. Thin, light and had good flavor. So far great experience. So then he motions over to the salsas. “mild” “hot” and “Surface of the Sun”. Hearing the last, I scoffed and got a nice big cup of it. I then took a cup of the regular hot, then headed back up to my desk.

I sat down and started to take apart their sauce… I tasted the “surface of the sun” and had to laugh. It was WARM, but not too hot… (please remember, I have a LOVE for hot food and only Taste of Thailand can make things that are too hot for me) I then tasted the regular hot sauce… Tasted about the same. They were ok, but they had the kiss of death when it comes to salsa… they used canned tomatoes. They needed something else too… I can’t put my finger on what, but the salsa was bland. There weren’t enough layers to it. The funny thing is, I just made my salsa last night. Fresh tomatoes, cilantro, onions, fresh serrano peppers, garlic and salt. Finding the perfect blend is important…. I’m not going to go into my ratios and prep… that will give away my Texas State Fair winning secrets. Yes kiddies, my recipe (that I snagged from a restaurant I used to work at) won the Texas State Fair salsa competition 3 years in a row if I have my facts right… Well… that’s at least what I was told by the head chef and the manager. 😉 He could have made it up.

I will be going back to Zemogs when they come back.

Pros: The enthusiasm of the staff and the food quality
Cons: Canned tomatoes

Overall: I liked it. I loves small locally owned businesses. They are doing their best to make a name and I will recommend them until they tick me off. 😉 As I said… I will be going back.

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 15 Jun 2010 @ 06:28 PM

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 04 May 2010 @ 7:47 PM 
There are some treasures you stumble across by complete accident.  Today, such a thing happened.
A coworker and I went to lunch and we were headed to Jason’s Deli.  When we pulled up, the line was out the door.  We couldn’t find a parking spot within reasonable walking distance and we both became agitated.  So we drove away and I figured we should try someplace new.  We exited out on to “I” street and I said, “Ever have Korean?”  The answer was no, so I drove up “I” street to 108th and cut across.  I was feeling rather Han Kuk Kwan-ish and so I figured some nice Bulgogi would be in order.    We pulled up in front of what used to be the right place and there was a new sign: “Maru”.  It was now serving Sushi and Korean food.  We walked in and the homey mom and pop restaurant was replaced with a spiffy modern look.  No more karaoke room, no more big screen TV… it was all gone.  What was in its place was a totally remodeled, sleek new dining area and an extended menu.  I ordered my Bulgogi  and two rolls:  Mikki and Salmon Skin.  It was a little strange though because my co-worker and I were the only two in the place for a while.  Our waitress seemed a bit new at it, but she was nice and took pretty good care of us.
The food came out and I was a bit sad, I had ordered off the lunch menu which has a different Bulgogi recipe than the dinner menu, but it was still good.  Then my sushi came out.  It looked real good.  The presentation wasn’t as artistic as I like, but they were big rolls.  Fat with filling and thin with rice.  The rice was good and I am happy to say that the fish was fresh.  As we dined others came in, having the same reaction that we had.  Nobody really knows that it’s there.  So I am taking it on myself to say something nice about them.  Am I putting this place on par with Hiro?  I don’t know.  Is it better than Blue?  I think so.  Better than Sushi-Japan?  YEAH!  (Duh!)
I hope the owner takes my advice and does a promotion with Club Roxbury, which is just up the street.  I think it could bring them new business.  I believe that after a bit of refining, that Maru could be something special.  The southwest side of Omaha needs something good.  We’re lacking awesome, Omaha owned and operated food.
The Good: Great sushi, Fresh fish, Great remodel, Nice staff, great location
The Bad: MORE GINGER!!! MORE WASABI!!!  Ginger is like candy… more more more…  😉  There wasn’t much on the plate when it came out.  Made me feel like you were skimping.
The overall impression:  Good job.  Nice place, prices are on the same level as Hiro and Blue.  I am looking forward to exploring their menu more.  I think that it is going to be a place I start dragging people to.  Will it be “Hiro” to me?  Dunno… doubt it… but it’s damn good for what it is.  I will be back.  (Someone Build them a website!)
~The Omaha Critic. (Well Fed)

There are some treasures you stumble across by complete accident.  Today, such a thing happened.

A coworker and I went to lunch and we were headed to Jason’s Deli.  When we pulled up, the line was out the door.  We couldn’t find a parking spot within reasonable walking distance and we both became agitated.  So we drove away and I figured we should try someplace new.  We exited out on to “I” street and I said, “Ever have Korean?”  The answer was no, so I drove up “I” street to 108th and cut across.  I was feeling rather Han Kuk Kwan-ish and so I figured some nice Bulgogi would be in order.    We pulled up in front of what used to be the right place and there was a new sign: “Maru”.  It was now serving Sushi and Korean food.  We walked in and the homey mom and pop restaurant was replaced with a spiffy modern look.  No more karaoke room, no more big screen TV… it was all gone.  What was in its place was a totally remodeled, sleek new dining area and an extended menu.  I ordered my Bulgogi  and two rolls:  Mikki and Salmon Skin.  It was a little strange though because my co-worker and I were the only two in the place for a while.  Our waitress seemed a bit new at it, but she was nice and took pretty good care of us.

The food came out and I was a bit sad, I had ordered off the lunch menu which has a different Bulgogi recipe than the dinner menu, but it was still good.  Then my sushi came out.  It looked real good.  The presentation wasn’t as artistic as I like, but they were big rolls.  Fat with filling and thin with rice.  The rice was good and I am happy to say that the fish was fresh.  As we dined others came in, having the same reaction that we had.  Nobody really knows that it’s there.  So I am taking it on myself to say something nice about them.  Am I putting this place on par with Hiro?  I don’t know.  Is it better than Blue?  I think so.  Better than Sushi-Japan?  YEAH!  (Duh!)

I hope the owner takes my advice and does a promotion with Club Roxbury, which is just up the street.  I think it could bring them new business.  I believe that after a bit of refining, that Maru could be something special.  The southwest side of Omaha needs something good.  We’re lacking awesome, Omaha owned and operated food.

The Good: Great sushi, Fresh fish, Great remodel, Nice staff, great location

The Bad: MORE GINGER!!! MORE WASABI!!!  Ginger is like candy… more more more…  😉  There wasn’t much on the plate when it came out.  Made me feel like you were skimping.

The overall impression:  Good job.  Nice place, prices are on the same level as Hiro and Blue.  I am looking forward to exploring their menu more.  I think that it is going to be a place I start dragging people to.  Will it be “Hiro” to me?  Dunno… doubt it… but it’s damn good for what it is.  I will be back.  (Someone Build them a website!)

~The Omaha Critic. (Well Fed)

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 04 May 2010 @ 07:49 PM

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 09 Apr 2010 @ 8:55 PM 

As last time, I stared blankly at the numbers in disbelief.  I checked and rechecked these numbers, but I stand by the tasters… The majority of them have been with us the whole way!

That being said, I am just going to post the numbers raw….

Sortino Yuk Val Yuk

3

1

2

3

4

4

2

2

3

1

2

2

4

1

2

1

2

1

3

1

2

4

4

5

4

3

2

3

3

2.142857

4

2.428571

4

3

4

3

4

3

4

4

3

3

3

3

2

3

3

3

4

4

3

3

4

3

4

3

2

3

2

3

2

3

2

4

2

4

2

2

2

3

3

4

-2.14286

-2.42857

2.82266

2.847291

So the final score is Johnny Sortino’s 2.82266 and Valentino’s 2.84729…. Valentino’s squeeks past Sortino’s to the next round.

Now for my take on it… Sortino’s, I thought was hands down the better quality Pizza.  The Crust of Valentino’s makes me.. Well… It’s like eating a squishy wet sponge.   I had a friend of mine say that Val’s is just Nebraska Tradition and that people associate it with Husker Games…

Come on… The Pizza I had today was just not that good… and somehow… Somehow… it scored higher this time than it did last time.  But… I still stand my tasters… It’s about what THEY prefer, not what I prefer… I thought the Sortino’s crust was much better.  I thought that the cheese was better and the pepperoni had more of a bite like it should.    The sauce was better, everything, IMHO was just better and fresher…

Sorry Johnny Sortino’s… I have loved you and will continue to love you… but you’re now eliminated….

~The Omaha Critic (confused)

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 09 Apr 2010 @ 08:55 PM

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 25 Mar 2010 @ 9:50 PM 

So last week, I ran out to get Pizza for my team.  I picked up the Valentino’s first then ran out to the Pizza Gourmet on 120th and Gyles… I race back to the office so that everyone can have pizza that at least resembles hot.  I get into the break room, print out the review forms and set up the pizzas for serving.  Set the plates out and napkins, grabbed a slice of Val’s and TPG’s and sit myself down.  I bit into the Val’s and was pleasantly surprised.  It didn’t suck.  Normally when I eat Val’s it’s coming off of their buffet and leave a lot to be desired.  I bit into The Pizza Gourmet’s pizza and was impressed.  It was good.  I started writing down my score…  Talking to my co-workers, it seemed that The Pizza Gourmet had won….

WRONG… Valentino’s put the smack down on TPG… I sat at my desk tabulating the score with my jaw hanging open.  I was so shocked, I called my boss over to verify it.  The score was very skewed to the Val’s side.  Only 30% of the votes went to TPG and 15% of that was mine.

So… the scores were: Valentino’s – 3.12 (Yuk of 2) and The Pizza Gourmet – 2.613 (Yuk of 1.6).  It was the first time a contender had a lower yuk score and lost.  I mean come on.. I was blown away… but these are committees doing the judging… it’s not just my personal choice.

So now we start the play-offs.

~TOC

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 25 Mar 2010 @ 09:51 PM

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 23 Mar 2010 @ 6:33 PM 

Ok Omaha…

It’s coming up on Spring and it’s the time of year when we men-folk start craving that grilled/smoked/charred decadence that is Barbecue.   So… that being said, ladies and gentlemen, start casting your votes (Ok, suggestions really) for the best “Q” in the Big “O” so we can get some reviews.  GO MEAT!

~The Omaha Critic

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 23 Mar 2010 @ 06:33 PM

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 23 Mar 2010 @ 5:59 PM 

Have you ever noticed that the nicer the area, the worse the service? I mean really, I have never had worse service (on a consistent basis) than I do in the Regency/One Pacific Place area. More specifically Ruby Tuesday’s and CPK.  One would think that people in a higher income bracket would expect better service. I have had my best service in the worst neighborhoods.  (Excluding Hiro and Mahogany)

It would be different if this was a one time thing, but it happens every time.  Today we went to CPK (California Pizza Kitchen) for lunch and the service was horrible.  We waited forever to get noticed (Even when we were seated by 11:20) and were one of 3 tables at the time seated.  We didn’t get our drinks until 15 minutes later then took til noon to get our order placed.  I had to suck down an over priced Cobb Salad just to make it back to work on time.  Then when I went to pay, the server was nowhere to be found.  I had to leave my wife, my friends, and my daughter there to pay for it, because I had to get back to work for a meeting.  I am not impressed with CPK’s service and neither my wife (who ordered theire “NEW” cheeseburger pizza) nor I (Cobb Salad) were impressed with the food either.

I give California Pizza Kitchen an “F” for service and a “C” for food quality.

Likes:  There was a lot of Bacon, Avocado and Turkey on my salad, the tea was good, and one of the other servers who came over to our table to help out was nice.

Dislikes: Our server was inattentive, spent too much time gabbing with the people in back (we could see her) and hardly checked on us, then was slow cashing us out.

Overall Feel: I don’t go to CPK very often, and I don’t think that I will be increasing the frequency.  The salad was “Ok” but for the price I would think it would be outstanding.  I think that CPK could do better than mediocrity.

~The Omaha Critic

Posted By: The Omaha Critic
Last Edit: 23 Mar 2010 @ 06:35 PM

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