As this year's Omaha Restaurant Week winds down — tonight is the final night of the 2015 edition — I've been thinking about more than just the incredible deals diners can get during the event. My favorite part of Omaha Restaurant Week is how the event offers diners the chance to rediscover the spots they don't always make it to, and remember what's so great about them in the first place. It also gives diners the chance to support their everyday favorites and experience a new menu at those beloved spots. I did both this weekend.
The rediscovery happened at Twisted Cork Bistro. I don't get there enough — the last time I was there was when I reviewed it in January of this year — but it was as good as ever. I still really enjoy the atmosphere at Twisted Cork, and the Oregon-focused wine list remains a favorite. The cooler weather put me in the perfect mood for an Oregon pinot. My favorites on the restaurant's ORW menu were two: a Hawaiian salad with mixed greens, carrots, almonds and a creative and crunchy ramen miso-sesame-peanut vinaigrette. It's rare that a salad arrives to the table as a standout, but this one was.
My other favorite: the Hollenback Farm fire steak, which lived up to its name with an espresso cayenne spice, a whiskey glaze and crisp cinnamon-dusted apples on top. A perfect entree for fall — and a lovely pairing with that glass of pinot.
Last night, I did the opposite, and revisited a favorite, Le Bouillon, in the Old Market. I again had two favorites: potato gnocchi with tender chunks of roasted lamb, crisp seasonal vegetables and a drizzle of herb oil. Dessert stood out, too: a rich chocolate brioche bread pudding with a scoop of espresso ice cream.
It's fun to see what Omaha chefs come up with on ORW menus. Some stick to customer favorites, while others create a special menu just for the week, with nothing that's on the usual menu. There's still time to get an ORW experience this weekend: The price-fixed three-course meals of $20, $30 and $40 per diner continue through tonight. If you already dined out this week or last weekend, share your own favorites in the comments.
To find a spot to dine, visit omaharestaurantweek.com.