Blue Orchid: A Fantastic Choice for Any Occasion

29 03 2008

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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.

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JTK: A new place to try

16 03 2008

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After leaving Lazlo’s, Mr. & Mrs. Wisco decided to check the menu at JTK. It’s a fairly new restaurant that opened in July 2007, and while we’ve read good reviews, we haven’t tried it yet.

JTK is inside the Haymarket Lincoln Station. We stopped in to look at the menu, and one of the employees took a considerable amount of time to tell us about the restaurant, their menu, and some of their specials. First, the menu looks fantastic. This will definitely be another review for us in the not-so-distant future.

JTK also has several specials. For example, JTK has a monthly wine dinner with a single menu, where each course is served with a wine that complements the food. There is also a Monday date night special. The date night special has a shorter menu, and an appetizer, two entrees, a dessert, and a bottle of wine are all included for a single price.

In short, we were impressed by what we saw. We will certainly go to JTK for dinner soon.





Just a couple of burgers: Dinner at Haymarket Lazlo’s

16 03 2008

Lazlo’s

Last night, Mr. & Mrs. Wisco decided to take in a Lincoln Stars hockey game. The game was fun, even though the Stars lost. 😦

After the game, Mr. Wisco decided he really wanted a good burger for dinner. Since we were close to downtown, we decided to try the Haymarket Lazlo’s. We have been to Lazlo’s before, but not for quite awhile. We were happy to see from the menu that all items are made from scratch, and that they had a good selection of different burgers. We arrived at about 9:15, and the restaurant was about half full. We were seated immediately in a booth with a window view.

In addition to their food, Lazlo’s is known for their beer (Empyrian Ales), and they currently have two different seasonal brews on tap – a Sweet Stout and a Irish Red. Since we’ve had many of the regular brews, we both decided to try the Irish Red. The Irish Red was very good, and a great complement to a burger. It kept us in the ‘red’ theme after drinking Leinenkugels Red at the Stars game.

We asked for a side of the beer bread (complementary upon request), and it arrived quickly. It’s a white bread, with the sweet flavor of all beer breads. It was toasted and buttered on one side, and a good start to the meal, especially if you’re too hungry to wait for the food to arrive!

At Lazlo’s, all burgers come with your choice of one side dish. The choices include homemade applesauce, french fries, wild rice, mashed potatoes, and several other options. Mr. Wisco ordered a Cheeseburger (medium-rare), which comes with Cheddar cheese. He chose the french fries. Mrs. Wisco ordered a Veggie Burger with a side of applesauce.

The food came out VERY quickly. In fact, we were shocked at how fast it arrived (and a little nervous, as this can sometimes mean that burgers are pre-cooked). Both burgers were cooked on the wood-fired hickory grill, and were excellent. Mr Wisco’s cheeseburger was a perfect medium-rare. He was impressed, as burgers are often slightly overdone. It came with special sauce (mayo-based), lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles. The french fries were the iconic crinkle-cut shape, and were cooked to perfection. It was obvious that the oil was fresh. Mrs Wisco’s Veggie burger was fantastic. It’s made from scratch, and the chargrilling was very tasty. It came with lettuce, tomato, onion, and pickles. The homemade applesauce was excellent. It’s made with thinly sliced whole pieces of apple cooked with cinnamon and sugar. It’s not overly sweet, but has a fresh apple flavor.

The service was good – we were seated quickly, and we were greeted almost immediately by our server. In fact, we had to ask him to come back, since we hadn’t even decided on drinks yet. He came back for our drink orders, and brought the beers out quickly. We were a little surprised when a second server came to our table to take our food order. Then, a third server brought the food out to our table. The first server came out and asked if everything was “fantastic” (this type of verbiage seems over the top to us, and is becoming more commonplace in corporate-style restaurants – while the food is good, it’s not life-changing!). The second server cleared our plates, while the first server delivered and took care of the bill. We don’t know why restaurants are moving to this team-based serving approach, but it seems to take away from the relationship a customer builds with a server. It feels more like an assembly line approach.

The decor is nice – it has a laid-back, comfortable feel to the restaurant. The brick brings the feel of the old Haymarket into the restaurant. We really like Lazlo’s choice of light fixtures. The restrooms are clean and well-stocked.

Our bill for two beers, a Cheeseburger and a Veggie burger came to about $22. So all in all, we thought that the food and beer was both tasty and a good value. The chargrilled burgers are unique, and make it a good choice for a casual meal out.





Hello Lincoln!

16 03 2008

Welcome to our new blog! We hope that you find it interesting and entertaining. We’re a couple living in Lincoln, Nebr. We moved here in 2005, and enjoy good food and eating out. We hope that sharing our dining experiences will help others to make good dining choices. Of course, this isn’t one-sided. We hope that all of you will participate as well, and we’d love to hear all of your comments and suggestions.

Welcome!