Ran into a man at the gym this morning that said he was a reader of this blog (thank you!) and told me he and his fiancee had set a New Year’s Resolution to only eat at local places. I thought this was an outstanding resolution, and hadn’t heard of that one before. (Even though we both admitted nearly ALL the chain restaurants in town are locally owned by franchisees, and we both hit them up from time to time.)
I’ve never been one to set resolutions, at least not in the traditional, annual sense. But if we’re talking food, I do have a sort of standing code to not get into ruts, to change where and what I eat up frequently. That’s always been the case, but ever since I’ve started this blog, it’s also become a necessity.
Which is partly how, between a random happy hour, going to the movies (thought Nebraska was wonderful, btw) and waiting for my wife to get off work, I ended up on the west side of town three times last week.
My travels brought me to Woody’s Pub & Grill, Martini’s Casino and Lounge and The Thirsty Duck Bar & Grill. Not my normal haunts, even if I hit up Woody’s a couple times a year with friends, and I found a few things I really liked to pass on to you.
Let’s break them down by good, better, best:
Good: The Cuban Burger and the beef Chislic at Woody’s. The burger, topped with some grilled ham, Swiss, pickles and a drippy mustard sauce of goodness was solid indeed. Not blown away, but enjoyable. Also, not a Cuban. The chislic was pretty great, mainly because the bites were appropriately sized, cooked medium rare, and grilled, not fried. I love it when places grill chislic instead of frying. It provides a bit of that char that makes steak so good. Not every place in town will do it, but if grilled is an option, I say go for it.
Better: Not exactly fair to compare burgers and steak to martinis, but the Peanut Butter Cup at Martini’s was fun and delicious. I also sampled the classic Dirty Martini (I’d pass; The olives were all but flavorless plastic) and the 3 Monks, a mix of Templeton Rye Whiskey, Yellow Chartreuse, Green Chartreuse, cherry bitters, aromatic bitters and lemon juice that I really liked (and said tasted like a bunch of vegetables…with liquor…in a good way), but it was the PB Cup that struck my fancy. The vanilla vodka, Godiva Chocolate Liqueur, creme de cacao, hazelnut liqueur and peanut butter beverage was my favorite. Not too sweet and very much peanut buttery. Go grab one.
Best: I certainly didn’t expect much from the Thirsty Duck when we dropped in there midday on a Saturday. My only prior experience was in a slightly inebriated, going-away-party, state years ago, and I didn’t remember it fondly. But the menu was pretty varied, and when I see something on a menu I’ve never seen before, like Duck Tenders, my interest was piqued. After asking the waitress if these were, in fact, duck and not some play on words, we ordered them up with some Mac and Cheese bites and Cajun Nachos (both of which were fine. The nachos actually come from house-made potato chips which was a bonus).
So good. Tender meat, not at all fatty, with a coarse breading that held up to dipping in the ginger duck sauce. Really quite tasty and, since I’d not seen them before, novel. Highly recommend.
I’m chalking the west side excursions as a success. Most of the eateries on that side of town are bars that serve food rather than restaurants (no judging here!), but that doesn’t mean there aren’t some dishes worth checking out.
If you have a favorite order out on the west side, I’d love to hear about it. Hit me up in the comments below.