Las Herraduras – Delicious Mexican Food

23 04 2009

Well, the Wiscos are back in business! Today we decided to try a new restaurant – Las Herraduras. Las Herraduras opened a couple of months ago, and Mr. Wisco had read good things about it. The restaurant is at First & West O Street, on the north side of the street.

The outside of the restaurant doesn’t have much of a decor, in fact, there aren’t many signs outside. We walked in expecting that it would be very basic on the inside, and were pleasantly surprised by how nice it is on the inside. The owners have done a great job of decorating on the inside. There are smaller tables and larger ones that could accomodate a group.

The restaurant is owned by a couple, and the wife was our server. She brought over some chips and salsa, and asked for our drink order, and the restaurant has applied for their liquor license, but doesn’t have one yet. But, they have a large selection of soda and traditional drinks like horchata. There were three types of salsa served with the chips, and they were all fantastic. One was fairly tangy, made from tomatillos, another had a smoky pepper flavor, and the third was a more traditional salsa. They were obviously all homemade, and all delicious. She asked us if we would like some guacamole also, since they had just made a fresh batch. We couldn’t pass that up, and it was really delicious.

The menu is very extensive, with lots of traditional options. We decided to come in hopes of having good tacos. Mr. Wisco decided to get the Mexican tacos, which come with your choice of meat. He chose chorizo, and he also ordered a side of rice and beans. The tortillas for the tacos are homemade, and they’re the traditional small corn tortillas. Mrs. Wisco decided to get fish tacos. Each of the meals had three tacos. The fish tacos were fantastic – some of the tastiest Mrs. Wisco has ever had. There was lots of fish, and it was really tasty. There was seasoning, onion, and cilantro, and the fish was excellent, as well as the tortillas. Mr. Wisco’s meat was lightly seasoned, but the quality of the meat was so good that it was perfect. The only thing that could be improved with the Mexican tacos was that they could use double tortillas instead of single tortillas – the meat was falling out of the tacos with the single shells. The fish tacos had double tortillas, which worked much better to hold all the delicious filling.

Las Herraduras has desserts that sound good, but we were so full after dinner we couldn’t imagine ordering dessert. In fact, we took an extra taco and some guacamole that we couldn’t finish home with us.

The prices are very reasonable. Our total bill for 2 dinners, a side of guacamole, a side of rice and beans, and 2 drinks (non-alcoholic) was about $30. We thoroughly enjoyed our meal and the ambiance on the inside was very nice and comfortable. We will definitely be back to eat at Las Herraduras – the opening of this restaurant is a great addition to Lincoln’s dining options.





Fresh and Local: Shadowbrook Salad Company

22 05 2008

About a week ago, the Wiscos went to try Shadowbrook Salad Company. We were a little apprehensive about trying it, since we had heard mixed reviews. But, we both like a good salad bar, so we decided to give it a try. The name comes from Shadowbrook farm, a local farm that sells at the Haymarket farmers market in Lincoln. The owner of the restaurant and the owner of the farm are brothers. While the businesses are separate, the restaurant does serve a lot of produce that is grown locally at Shadowbrook farm, and they try to purchase ingredients from other local farms and businesses. For example, the bread they serve is from Le Quartier, a local bakery.

The restaurant is entirely a buffet, and there is one set price. You pay when you enter the restaurant, and they give you a card for your table. Putting one side up means that you are still eating, and the other side means that you are done. In addition, every person gets a coupon for a free gelato with dinner. The coupon could either be used after you eat, or you could keep it for another visit.

The buffet includes a large salad bar with an extensive selection of greens, veggies, cheeses, and other salad toppings. There is a large assortment of prepared salads, including things like broccoli salad, various pasta salads, and fruit salads. There are also about five or six different soups. The last section of the buffet includes a few different entrees, which vary by the day of the week. There is always one entrée that is vegetarian among the choices. We tried a variety of different things from the buffet, but it’s impossible to try everything in one visit.

Overall, the salad bar and the soups were excellent. We would go back again sometime when we feel like a really good salad bar with a large selection. The one section that we didn’t like was the entrees. When we were there, the quality of the salad bar was fantastic, but the quality of the entrees was on par with what you could get at an Old Country Buffet. We were disappointed, and hope that they improve. It was our first time eating there, and the entrees do change daily, so we might have hit a bad day.

After dinner we used our coupons to get gelato for dessert. Gelato is similar to ice cream, but a bit lighter with a richer flavor. It’s delicious, and we both tried a couple of flavors before making our decisions. We’ll definitely be back for gelato, especially with summer coming up soon.

Overall, we liked most of the food we had. We also are very supportive of a business that is trying to rely on local suppliers for food. We were not very happy with the entrée choices, although they might be better on another night. However, we will go back to Shadowbrook Salad Company for the soups and salad bar alone, regardless of the entrée choices. And of course, we’ll have gelato for dessert.





Best Overlooked Pizza and Beer in Lincoln

26 04 2008

On a recent Friday evening, Mr. & Mrs. Wisco decided to go to Yia Yia’s, one of our favorite pizza places in Lincoln. Our other favorite is Piezano’s, but we’ll save that for another review. Yia Yia’s is at 1423 O Street.

We arrived about 7:30 or 8:00 on a Friday, and the restaurant was very full. We were lucky to snag a table right by the window in front. Yia Yia’s doesn’t have waitstaff, so everyone orders at the counter. There are a large number of specialty pizzas, as well as the typical ‘make-your-own’. Yia Yia’s has an astounding selection of beer – over 300 of them in fact!! They have beers from all over the world, as well as excellent choices on tap. The display is categorized by region, making it easy to find something froma certain area. Mr. Wisco has a Wychwood Hobgoblin (British), and Mrs. Wisco had a Paulaner Salvator (German).

We ordered a large pizza with sausage and onions on one half, and onions and green peppers on the other half. The place was very busy, but the pizza only took about 15 minutes. The pizza is served with bread on the side – it’s good, but not as good as the pizza.

Our beer choices were fantastic. The Paulaner Salvator is a semi-sweet brown ale, and the Wychwood Hobgoblin is a dark red with lots of flavor. We’ve had these beers before, so the fact that they were great wasn’t surprising. Next time we’ll have to try something new – any suggestions?

The pizza was delicious – the crust is thin and crunchy, the sauce is good, and doesn’t overpower the crust and toppings, there is a perfect amount of cheese (not too much and not too little), and the toppings are all fresh and tasty. In short, it’s a great pizza. A large with two toppings was about $20, but it provided plenty for us to take home for leftovers. A large would probably feed 3-4 people (3 if you’re hungry, 4 if you’re not so hungry). With the beer, our total was about $30.

Yia Yia’s feels like a pub, with pub-style tables. The inside has a décor of brick walls and old giant-sized European posters. It’s definitely a little eclectic, but it has great character.

Overall, Yia Yia’s doesn’t have a large selection of different types of food, it’s a pizza place. But, if you’re looking for some really great pizza with a good selection of toppings, and an unbelievable choice for beer, you can’t beat it.





Eat Pancakes to help Kids.

22 04 2008

 

The Annual Cornhusker Kiwanis Pancake Festival will be this Saturday, April 26th

from 6:30 am to 2:00 pm

Inside at the Antelope Park Recreation Center

(enter from South  or “A” street near the Zoo on Memorial Dr.)

 

Tickets are $5.00 at the door

Children 3-12 $2.00

And Free under the age of 3

 

All You Can Eat

-Pancakes

-French Toast

-Sausage

-Real Orange juice

-Milk

-Coffee

 

I only recently joined Kiwanis when I moved to Lincoln and can’t say enough about all they do for the community.

I would like to invite all of you who read the DINK Review to attend this great tradition and help Lincoln’s children. 100% of the profits go directly to the kids of Lincoln. This is the biggest fundraiser Kiwanis does and it funds a lot of the work we do during the year. Advanced ticket sales have been sluggish this year, so come out for the Best Deal in Town and have a great Breakfast/Brunch.

 

So what is Kiwanis?

Kiwanis is a global organization of volunteers dedicated to changing the world one child and one community at a time.

 

Cornhusker Kiwanis helps feed elementary school children who wouldn’t otherwise have anything to eat by sending backpacks with food home with them over the weekend, read to and provide books for children who may have no other books at home, put on Bike rodeos to promote bicycle safety and physical activity with kids and provide scholarships to Lincoln’s next generation. We also do a lot of volunteer work in the community by picking up trash on Lincoln’s highways, trails and parks along with volunteering at Teddy Bear Cottage and Meals on Wheals.

This is just a taste of what Cornhusker Kiwanians are doing and have done.

 

Hope to see you there!

Wisco

post scriptum, Mrs Wisco is in Mexico for work until Friday so we’ll post our next review (Yiayia’s Pizza) when she returns.





Sushi or Teppanyaki? Tokyo Steak House Review

9 04 2008

On Saturday evening, Mr. & Mrs. Wisco decided to try a new restaurant, the Tokyo Steak House. It’s a new restaurant that is near the Shopko by 27th Street and Highway 2. It’s on the north end of the strip mall (it used to be a sports bar).

We were never in the restaurant when it was a sports bar, but it looks like the current owners have done an excellent job of redecorating. We asked the chef, and he said that they spent about 7 months remodeling the restaurant. When you first walk in, there is a small bar area with a couple of televisions. There are two sections – a sushi bar and dining area to the left, and a grill area to the right. It’s a traditional-looking sushi bar, with places to sit and eat either at the bar or at the tables. The sushi bar side even has a fish pond in the middle with big coy fish. They’re fun to watch! J The grill side is beautifu – everything is new. There are about 10 grills, and each will fit about 8 people around it. They are Teppanyaki grills (also called “hibachi-style”), where the food is cooked in front of you. There is a nice mix of bamboo wood and wasabi-colored walls, as well as some very nice glasswork. There are Japanese woodprints and artwork around the entire restaurant.

We arrived about 9:00 pm. There were 5-6 tables seated on the sushi side, but none on the grill side. We were greeted by the hostess, who was wearing a kimono-style outfit. We asked to be seated on the grill side, and were immediately brought to a table. The first thing we noticed was the beautiful plates at each seat. We ordered hot sake to share, and started to look over the menus. Both the hostess and our server were young and seemed a little on the green side. This didn’t mean that they ignored us, in fact, they were very attentive. Of course, the restaurant has only been open a couple of weeks, so we’ll give them some slack.

For the Teppanyaki dishes, there were chicken, shrimp, or steak choices available. There is also a selection of different steak cuts to choose from like a NY strip steak. The sushi menu has rolls, sashimi, and vegetarian choices. We decided to order a combination. Mr. Wisco chose the sliced-steak teppanyaki with fried rice, and Mrs. Wisco chose a side of shrimp Teppanyaki, unagi (bbq eel) sashimi, and a spicy tuna roll. We shared an order of edamame (boiled soybeans served with salt – yummy!). The dinners are all served with a side salad and soup. It’s not a traditional miso soup, but more like a chicken broth with scallions and thinly sliced mushrooms. The dinners are also served with grilled vegetables (zucchini, onion, and mushrooms) and steamed rice. It’s possible to substitute either fried rice or house noodles for the steamed rice for an extra $2. They didn’t have the noodles available when we were there, but we might have been too late in the evening for them.

The edamame arrived first. It was very good. The sushi arrived just before our Teppanyaki chef. The Teppanyaki experience was a lot of fun. It was strange at first, being the only people at our table and on our side of the restaurant. The chef was fun, and did a great job of entertaining us in addition to cooking our food. He even showed us how to put our hot sake on the grill to keep it warm.

The sliced-steak Teppanyaki was cooked to a steakhouse medium-rare, which may be a little too rare for people used to other levels of doneness. The quality of the meat was excellent. One might expect a sliced-steak to be a lower quality of meat, but that wasn’t the case at all. It was very tender and lean. The sauce was light and tasty (it tasted like it was cooked in a soy sauce). The fried rice was as good to eat as it was to watch being cooked on the grill. Mrs. Wisco loved the grilled shrimp. They were perfectly done – tasty but not overcooked. There were two sauces served on the side. One was a ginger base that was excellent for the shrimp and the vegetables. We preferred the ginger sauce to the other sauce.

The unagi sashimi was good. The fish was tasty. The spicy tuna roll was pretty good. Now, one thing that Mrs. Wisco really hates is mayonnaise, and she forgot to ask if the sushi chef uses any mayonnaise in the filling. It’s something we’ve seen at other Japanese restaurants, so she wasn’t entirely surprised to see it again. Just make sure to ask if you’re worried, or sit at the sushi bar so that you can see everything and talk to the sushi chef directly.

We’re not sure if it’s because of inexperience or because we were there so late, but the server asked us about dessert (we declined) and brought the check while we were still eating. We didn’t feel rushed to leave, but the timing was a little off. Our total bill was $66 for 2 large hot sakes, edamame, a Teppanyaki dinner with fried rice, a side of shrimp, one unagi sashimi and one spicy tuna roll. We think it’s reasonably priced. Japanese food is never cheap, but it is a high quality, and worth splurging on once in awhile.

Overall, the restaurant is beautiful. The food does a good job of an ‘East meets West’ goal, without sacrificing much of the traditional Japanese cuisine while still making the menu accessible and providing choices for people who are not as adventurous. The food is on par with Shogun, and the décor is nicer. The service was friendly and attentive, and with a little more time will probably work out some of the kinks. Given how successful Shogun has been in Lincoln, the Tokyo Steak House should succeed and do well, as long as people find out about it.





Lunch at Mr. Leno’s

6 04 2008

Mr. and Mrs. Wisco decided to have a late lunch on a Sunday at Mr. Leno’s Mexican Food. The restaurant is at 7040 O. St., just across from Earl May Garden Center, and right where the Mopac Trail crosses O Street. It used to be a Kentucky Fried Chicken, and reopened about 6 months ago as Mr. Leno’s. It has a drive-through that’s open 24 hours a day, so if you’re ever in the mood for Mexican food at 3:00 am, this is your place.

We arrived mid-afternoon (about 2:30 or 3:00 pm) and we were initially the only customers in the restaurant. One other couple came in before we left.

Mr. Leno’s is very casual, and customers order at the counter. Food is served on paper plates, and the restaurant has plasticware instead of silverware. There is a small salsa bar. When we were there, the salsa bar had some pickled peppers and carrots, and two salsas – one red and one green. Both were tasty, and had some spice to them. There are additional spaces in the salsa bar, so it might have other choices at different times.

We ordered several items: a fish taco combination plate, a California burrito (has potato, steak, and salsa), a carne asada taco, a soda, and horchata.

Mrs. Wisco had the fish taco plate. It came with two fish tacos, rice, and beans. The fish was lightly breaded, and served with lettuce, tomato, and onions. The fish tacos have a light sauce on them – it tastes like a sour cream base, but it’s not heavy at all. Mrs. Wisco can be very picky about sauces and dressings, but she thought this one was good. The rice and beans were decent, but needed salsa for some more flavor. The horchata was very good.

Mr. Wisco had the California burrito and a carne asada taco. His eyes might have been bigger than his stomach, because the burrito would have been enough, even for a late lunch. The meat in both was average quality (better than some Mexican restaurants), although it seemed a little overdone and was probably kept warm in hot water before serving. Under closer inspection, Mr. Wisco realized that the potatoes were actually French fries, although they weren’t greasy and appeared to be at least reheated on the grill. The tortilla for the burrito seemed fresher than the taco tortilla. The taco was basic – a tortilla with some meat (no lettuce, onions, etc.). It was the same meat as the burrito. It was a little overdone and the taco shell was a little dry. He would have preferred the taco more authentically prepared with meat, chopped onions, and cilantro. The taco was bland without salsa, but adding salsa gave it more flavor.

The total bill came to about $17. The bathrooms were clean and well-stocked, but they are somewhat rundown.

Overall, it was decent. The people are very nice, and the food is fair. In our opinion, it’s not worth going out of the way for, but if you’re in the area and looking for a fast meal or a quick burrito, it’s a good choice.





Blue Orchid: A Fantastic Choice for Any Occasion

29 03 2008

blueorchid.jpg

On Friday night, Mr. & Mrs. Wisco went to the Blue Orchid, along with some friends from work. The Blue Orchid is in the old Federal Place building, at 129 N. 10th Street. It’s a bit of a maze getting to the restaurant from the parking lot, walking through the building. One can also enter on the 10th Street side, although there isn’t a sign indicating so. It has a small parking lot, and if you’re lucky, you might get one of the 15-20 parking spaces. If not, it’s easy to park in one of the city parking lots within 2-3 blocks of the restaurant.

We’ve been to the Blue Orchid before, and always had great food, so we had high expectations. It is our favorite Thai restaurant in Lincoln, and last night’s dinner didn’t fail to live up to expectations. The food really isn’t a classic type of Thai cuisine that one finds at most Thai restaurants. The Blue Orchid uses some unique combinations of flavors that blend traditional Thai with modern cuisine.

For those who haven’t been to the Blue Orchid, the owners really did a great job with the décor. It’s very modern looking, with Asian-inspired artwork (for example, bamboo). It has white tablecloths with white butcher’s paper, so it’s not as fancy of a place as it might appear. The bathrooms are very clean, and have the modern décor of the rest of the restaurant.

We made a reservation for 7:00, since we were a group of 5. We arrived a little early, so we were ready to wait if necessary. The restaurant was busy, and almost every table was full. But, they led us right to our table. Our server (Charlie, per the ticket) promptly greeted us and asked if we wanted anything to drink. The Blue Orchid has a fantastic drink menu. They have a number of wines available, with a small selection for any type of wine. They also have many unique cocktails, such as a ginger mojito. We’ve tried those on other trips, but this time we decided to share a bottle of wine, and chose the Rex Hill Pinot Noir from Oregon. It was excellent!

Now we had to make some choices for food. Most of the entrees are between $8 and $15, with the classic curry and stir-fry dishes close to $10, and the seafood dishes closer to $15. Mr. Wisco had the Pad Thai with chicken. Mrs. Wisco ordered the special for the evening, which was a Seafood and Eggplant stir-fry. The food arrived reasonably quickly (we didn’t time it, but it didn’t seem like we were waiting long). All of the dishes come with a side of steamed rice, but other additions such as soup or salad need to be ordered separately. In a nutshell, the food was excellent! Mrs. Wisco thoroughly enjoyed her seafood dish. The shrimp, scallops, and mussels were tender and perfectly done (seafood is often overcooked, especially at a busy restaurant). The sauce was delicious. Mr. Wisco loved his Pad Thai. When ordering it, one has the option to add chicken, beef, pork, or extra tofu for $3. He went with chicken, since it’s more of a classic choice for Pad Thai. The noodles were cooked perfectly, and were covered in a tasty homemade peanut sauce along with regular accompaniments like bean sprouts, tofu, eggs, and a fresh sliced lime on the side. Pad Thai is generally fairly mild, and the server brought some chili paste to add on request. On previous trips, Mrs. Wisco has ordered some of the other curry dishes, such as some of the garlic/ginger/peppercorn choices. Those have all been excellent.

We decided to share a dessert and some coffee. The dessert choices all looked excellent. One that we didn’t try, but is a favorite of Mrs. Wisco’s, is sticky rice and mango. We’ll try it next time. Mr. Wisco chose a White Chocolate Icing and Strawberry Shortcake, while our friends chose a chocolate cake served with Ivanna Cone ice cream. The Strawberry cake was more of a classic cake with layers and icing in between. It was served with sliced strawberries on top. The desserts are large, so it’s easy to share one with 2-3 people.

The service was excellent throughout the night. Our server (Charlie) was quick to refill water before we needed it, and was gracious about splitting the bill into two separate checks. He provided good advice, and didn’t have a scripted style to his interactions with us. The food is excellent, and it’s very reasonably priced for the high quality. For 2 dinners (one with seafood), 2 coffees, and 1 dessert, the bill was about $40. Our bottle of wine cost $36, which falls in the middle of the range of wine prices at the Blue Orchid.

Overall, we see the Blue Orchid as a good choice for all types of occasions. The service is excellent, the food is fantastic, and it’s reasonably priced for the quality of the food and the dining experience.