Culinary Dining Tour. When I heard those words I couldn’t be more excited a night out in Omaha. The night began with temperatures 30 below zero wind chills but that didn’t stop us from venturing on an adventure for our taste buds.
Our guide, Alex, was phenomenal. Thanks to college break she was able to spend some time away from her Political Science studies in Michigan to share Omaha with us. Her father is one of the founders of Omaha culinary tours and with her knowledge of the rich history of Old Market you can see why she is chosen for the role.
J’ s on Jackson.
1101 Jackson Street. JsonJackson.com
Warmth greeted us immediately entering J’s-and it wasn’t just because of the cold. The atmosphere exuded it. If I was on an intimate date and wanted a romantic atmosphere with cozy surroundings and a fine dining experience I would choose J’s. Talking to the locals, steak with lobster sauce is the entrée of choice. Not knowing what was to come, I ordered a light drink while the chef came out and made our mouths water in anticipation. I couldn’t wait. A plate of smoked salmon dip, delicate calamari, and an exquisite cheese ball was set before me.
Calamari – I would be remiss to say this wasn’t the best I’ve ever had-it was. Battered to perfection and using only the finest octopus, you could tell this was a signature item.
Cheese Ball– The name doesn’t do this gourmet treat justice. It was filled with a creamy filling and fell apart when I cut it with my knife. Unlike normal hard crusted cheese balls, with over-cooked centers, this treat was smooth, melting, and prepared to perfection.
Smoked Salmon Dip-Of the three, this one was my favorite. I love smoked salmon to begin with and I was not disappointed. Although paired with cream cheese and spice, the smoked salmon still held a delightful presence.
1017 Howard Street. BouillonOmaha.com
This building is a historic landmark-literally. Sam Mercer, the man responsible for restoring and creating Old Market’s charm is also credited for the preservation of these iconic stops. Filled with white brick walls, rich artwork, and a classy bar in the middle you feel the French atmosphere instantly. Glancing at the menu some items that stood out were the Whole Roasted Steelhead Trout ($25), Berkshire Pork Presse ($19), and Duck Hearts ($9), along with the best wine selection in Omaha. The chef greeted us and you could tell he was passionate about French cuisine and not only “knew his stuff” but put his blood, sweat, & tears into ensuring he served us only the best. I felt like a King, and that was before they knew I was going to write this-that makes it even better.
La Demarrante from Magnon- I knew I needed to pair some red wine with the delicious dish that was coming, the waitress recommended this one. A blend of carignan and cinsault it was purely tantalizing, I could’ve had a whole bottle…but luckily, our entrée came next…
Cassoulet- Pork belly, garlic sausage, duck confit, and cannellini beans made up this succulent stew. It was rich but perfectly off-set with my glass of red wine. The duck and sausage pairing was surprising but rewarding. Distinctive enough to separate the flavors, the combination was iconic. Although I was so full, I couldn’t resist our next plate.
Oysters-Okay, this is where it’s at. If you are an oyster fan you need to try Le Bouillon’s. If you’ve never had Oysters before, then this is the place to try them. Closing my eyes and tasting an oyster made me feel like I had just caught it off the seashore, that’s how fresh it was.
1205 Howard Street. PlankSeafood.com
Noted for its array of delicious seafood, oysters, and entrees, you can expect your meal to be wrapped up with a desirable dessert.
American Mule-This seemed like a good standby to pair with dessert and plus I really wanted to feel the familiarity of a copper mug in my hands. I was surprised at how unique it was for a traditional drink, also considering my fullness, it was beyond refreshing.
Chocolate Torte- Their tort is a delicate, perfectly layered, square of heaven. Complemented with vanilla ice cream and a hint of coffee and liquor, I felt like I was drinking a cup of dark cocoa with baileys. Seriously, this was a delight.
Apple Bread Pudding- The bread pudding was layered much like a torte, allowing you to experience the flavor of bread pudding in a less overwhelming way. It allowed me to get a full taste of apple in every bite while still getting the crunch from the caramelized banana slice.
This was a night to remember and I can’t wait to go back and enjoy one of the many other dining tours that Omaha has to offer. Alex, our guide, also mentioned pizza tours and brewery tours as being a success for their venture. Combined with a touch of history, architecture, and complementing cuisine stops you couldn’t find a better way to spend an evening in Old Market. Until next time, I will be dreaming of oysters and cassoulet..Bon Appetite! – Anna
Tour provided by: http://www.omahaculinarytours.com/