Monday, May 19, 2014

Enjoying the Small, Local Places

Jan here, hoping you all had a good weekend! I heard a rumor Virginia shared a delectable recipe on Saturday. If you missed it, like I did, scoot over to her post (but then hurry back here!) Virginia's Saturday post

Wow! I'm going to have to try some of the Lilac Jelly. Our lilacs are just beginning to bud, so the timing is perfect.

You might be wondering what I was doing, since I was AWOL from the cafe.

Well, I did the most fun thing - my daughter and I took a quick road trip to Omaha :)

Now wait a minute, you big city types! Don't laugh! You can't fit the amenities of my beloved Black Hills in the same hundred square miles as a city, so for us, Omaha is the big time!

We had a great weekend. We met Carrie's friend, Sarah, and Sarah's other friend, Denise there (they're from Kansas), and we also met up with Sarah's Aunt Karen from Iowa. Karen and I attempted to keep the activities sane, and I think we succeeded!

The Deco XV
We stayed in this beautiful, recently renovated hotel in Omaha's Old Town, right across the street from...

The Orpheum
...this gorgeous theater. Originally constructed as a vaudeville theater in 1927, this lovely place underwent major renovations in 2002.

Here's a picture of the grand lobby. My camera couldn't do it justice!

And the auditorium itself is just as grand - too grand for my little camera. But if you want to know more about the theater and see more (and better pictures), go to their website: The Orpheum Theater, Omaha

Oh, did I forget to tell you what we did there?

Oh. My. Stars. What a great show! The cast, the singing, the sets, the costumes, the orchestra.... We had so much fun!

But what does one do in a city when it's time to eat? You sample the best local restaurants, of course!

To my shame, though, I forgot to take my camera when we ate. (I know, I know - any self-respecting food blogger always takes her camera to a meal!)

But I can still share our scrumptious meals.

Saturday night dinner was at an elegant place called Saigon Surface. Their website shows off some of their dishes: Saigon Surface. If you're ever in Omaha, make sure to try this place. You'll need a reservation (unless you show up at 5:30 on a Saturday night looking desperate and starving!), but it's worth the wait if you don't have one.

I had never had Vietnamese food before, but we guessed it was probably similar to Thai, which we all like. I had their Ginger Chicken Clay Pot. Yumm! And we were right - the flavors were similar to Thai, but with their own spicy zing.

After the show, we went to the hotel's restaurant for dessert (at home, it was WAY past my bedtime - but this is city life, right?) The restaurant is called The Zin Room, and they were more than willing to serve us some cheesecake. Carrie and I split a piece. Even with cheesecake, there's only so much room!

And then for Sunday morning breakfast, we wandered around the block from the hotel to The Culprit Cafe. I love - absolutely love - old world style bakeries, and this is a great one. I had a Frittata Sandwich with carmelized onions, swiss cheese, and cob-smoked ham on rustic boule bread. The Culprit Cafe

Forget any diet - I could live on those sandwiches!

Carrie and I also split a Cinnamon Roll, which was melt-in-your-mouth delicious.

And then the best surprise! The chef brought a plate of beignet "ends" to our table because he though we'd enjoy them.

(I actually think it was because of the three lovely 20-something ladies at our table!)

So now it's your turn! Tell us about your favorite local restaurant, or your favorite "big city" restaurant to visit - and be sure to include their website address if they have one!

We want to share in the vicarious pleasure, don't we?


  1. OHHHHHH! Now I want some really yummy food! Loved your descriptions and it reminded me of all those years spent in foreign places and in big (BIG) cities!

    Now, we don't eat out very much (maybe once a year or so) and we don't travel at all (although we're planning a trip to the other side of the state in a few months).

    But after the balloon crewing experience, I took the kids to Shari's restaurant. (Does anyone else have those? Kind of a chain of glorified greasy spoons. Not the best food, but nice people.) Anyway, my youngest kids were just hilarious. "Mama, the water has ICE in it!" "The tea came with its own teapot!" "Look, I get a fork AND a spoon!"

    You'd think they lived on peanut butter and jelly sandwiches or sliced apples or cereal and milk. (Ok, maybe they do.)
    My favorite part was when my eight year old asked the waiter, "Where do I take my dishes when we're done?" I think the waiter must have thought we were from Mars.
    When I got to the check out, a portion of our bill was already paid by another customer because "the kids were so well-behaved". Isn't that nice? They didn't leave their names, but I know who it must have been. The place was nearly empty at 6:30AM and the waitress seated us (mom and six kids) right next to the only other people there, an elderly couple having coffee. I was worried about that arrangement, but I didn't want to make a fuss, so I didn't say anything. (Waitresses have their reasons, right?)

    All-around fun experience and the tidbits about yours trip have me craving some cheesecake and Thai food. :)

    1. LOL -- where do I take my dishes when I'm done? Snort. That's hysterical!!! But does show that your parenting skills are spot on. And love that the couple showed their appreciation that way. Mind you, that likely means your family is such an anomaly it needed to be rewarded which doesn't say much for the rest of us.

    2. Ah, homeschooling! There's an educational adventure everywhere you go, isn't there?

      Your experience that day - both the balloons (fabulous - go to Virginia's blog - - to read the story!) and the restaurant filled that day with memories for your family.

    3. That is so cool. Virginia your kids are amazing.

    4. What a wonderful story, Virginia!! Your kids are so cute.

  2. Wow. I didn't get my word count in today and it shows. I guess I needed to write a book at the café. LOL

  3. I hardly eat out at all either. Budgetary restraints and physical issues are the main reasons. In fact I haven't eaten out this year yet. But my go to restaurant is The Table. Vegetarian, organic. Incredible variety. The desserts are mind boggling. Where else can you get vegan chocolate mousse pie that melts in your mouth with ooey goodness?

    Here's the link:

    Check out the dessert menu. Aren't the pictures gorgeous?

    1. The looks like the perfect restaurant for you, Kav! I even noticed they have a take-home market. All the palate pleasers in the comfort of your own home :)

      And yes, the desserts look decadent, just like desserts should.



    And Wicked is about my favorite musical of all time.

    Wait...why didn't you call me? Next time. Seriously, next time...

    1. Oh, Tina! I didn't know!

      And we are planning a next time - next year, the Orpheum, Broadway show - I'll give you a call....

    2. Ruthy and Mary and I need to meet you.

    3. Yes. Definitely. We'll make plans.

      And Omaha is even centrally located. Kind of. :)

  5. Raleigh and the surrounding area have turned into a hot bed of new restaurants. Our gourmet claim to fame went way up last week when one of our chef earned the James Beard award for the South East.

    We will get back out to restaurants one of these days.

    1. The foodie restaurant industry is fascinating, isn't it? I feel like I just brushed the surface with this visit to Omaha.

    2. I love going to Omaha. Just love it. There's a charm that exudes from so much of it, just down home, amazing and wonderful! I get to go to Raleigh too but that's to play with beautiful grandkids so my time there is not restaurant inspired, it's just crazy chasing-two-year-old fun! Applauding at dance comps and rooting at tennis matches. Sandwiches rule the day.

  6. What fun!! I'm so jealous. I want to see that show. Maybe next time RWA is in NY we can plan way ahead and all get tickets.

    I once wrote a blog post and mentioned our favorite special occasion restaurant--Five & Ten in Athens, GA. I love the food, and it's always so beautifully presented that I hate to spoil it by eating a bite. :)

    1. Your blog post inspired this one, Missy!

      Some time I'll do one on my favorites here at home.

      RWA? In NYC? Only if I have a guide. Ruthy and Mary Curry both know their way around that town, right?

  7. JAN!!!??? You were in Omaha???
    I'd have come to see you! You must tell me when you get near me!!!!!!
    Two of my daughters went to Wicked this last week. I'll bet you sat beside them!!!

    1. I waved to you as we passed by on I-29, both on Saturday and Sunday. Didn't you see me wave?

      My daughter did. She rolled her eyes.

      Really. Rolled her eyes.

      Seriously, the trip was so quick and last minute, I didn't have time for anything! But I did look for you when we bought gas in Onawa. You weren't there.

      Don't you hang out there just waiting for me? :)

  8. I've heard of the Zin Room but neither of the other two places. They sound fantastic. I'm going to try them both asap. (with me and downtown Omaha, which I love asap could take YEARS!!!)

    1. We'll have to go to the Saigon Surface together. It has to be a group thing, or it's not as much fun, right?

  9. Ok, it seems like everyone in the world loves Omaha and I've never even been there!
    Who knew? Paris, London, Omaha.

  10. Truly, Virginia! Omaha is one of the most charming cities I have ever been to.