Saturday, December 18, 2010

Tour of Council Bluffs Iowa

Last week I found myself over in Council Bluffs and decided to drive around and see if there has been any changes in my favorite eating places in CB. Now it's been about 5 years since I worked in Council Bluffs, but in the 3 years I worked across the river, I found a handful of great places to eat! I am happy to report that all but one of my favorite spots were all still there.

I started my tour on North Broadway and swung by Pizza King, now Pizza King doesn't open until 4pm so it was pretty empty at 11 am when I was in the neighborhood. Pizza King is an interesting place, it is a nice steakhouse where you can sit down and have a great steak dinner or your can call in a Pizza and pick it up at their to go counter in back. Either way you can't go wrong, Pizza King has been serving great food in CB for decades!

My next stop was on West Broadway to snap a picture of a Barley's, if Barley's sounds familiar, it should, I have written a review of Barley's Tip Top in NoDo. As many of you already know the Council Bluffs location is the original. I think was in about 2001 that Matt Johnson sold his first bar on the west end of Broadway called "Repetitions"bought "Dirty Harry's" on 114 West Broadway and turned it into Barley's Bar and Grill. As I mentioned in my review of the Omaha location Barley's Tip Top, I highly recommend the Club Burger, but if your not in the mood for a burger, Barley's has great daily specials, and I never went wrong ordering the special at Barley's!

After that I cut through downtown to get to south 3rd Street to snap a shot of the Goldmine. The Goldmine is a tiny bar and grill with a huge following. I used to get the Thursday special with a buddy of mine after we worked out at the old Depot Gym over the lunch. The Thursday special was a Ribeye Steak with all the fixin's and it was awesome! The other thing I had noticed, because I drove by their everyday on my way to work is that it was packed every morning. I assumed it was the after work crowd from the 3rd shift of the plant next door, but come to find out they served breakfast and it was great too. The Goldmine is a great hide-a-way that only the locals know about until now!

Now if you have ever driven over the viaduct on Broadway that takes you into downtown Council Bluffs, you probably noticed a little bar and grill below the viaduct on the south side. That my friends is the Railway Inn. When I was working in Council Bluffs, the Railway was the first place I ever at lunch. At the time it was owned by Mark Andrews. The Railway was a place with great food and friendly regulars. Even though the had a lot of great food on the menu, I always had one of two things - The Cheeseburger or the Chicken, because the were both incredible. About 6 months before I went back to working in Omaha, Mark sold the bar to a nice couple named Jamie and Dan. They made some changes to the decor and added new items to the menu, but one thing that didn't change was the great food and friendly atmosphere.

Down on 33rd and Broadway is a Sam's Italian Villa which has been feeding Council Bluffs over 40 years. The first time I went to Sam's Italian Villa, I assumed it was your typical Italian joint with the usual food and it is! but they also have Fried Catfish, Steak, Pork Tenderloin and Broasted Chicken. One of my favorite comfort foods is fried catfish and Sam's Italian Villa does fried catfish right! Sam's is a great family restaurant with endless choices. You will know how good Sam's when you drive by, if they are open the parking lot will be full!

My last stop on my tour of CB took me by Tish's which is located on 35th just south of 9th Ave. As the story goes Tish's started off as an Ice Cream Stand and grew into a wonderful family restaurant. Tish's was a great little restaurant with beautiful dinner room, as well as open air dinning on their patio during the warm months. My favorite thing to get a Tish's was the steak salad better known as the Beefeater! For those of you who know me, know I don't order salads as my main course, but their is so much juicy steak on this salad, I made the exception!

Their are several other places I had great meals at and I would to mention them as well and I will definitely get them on my next tour of Council Bluffs. Those places are LPL's, Scott Street, Old River Pizza, Mo' Fish and The Main Street Cafe.

So if you find your self in Council Bluffs or just want to take the short ride over the river try one of these great places!

Tuesday, December 14, 2010


To start this post I was to clear up a few myths about Sushi

Myth #1 - All sushi is fish
Fact = Even though most sushi is made with fish, there are many veggie alternatives.

Myth #2 - All sushi is raw
Fact = Even though some sushi is raw, there are a lot cooked items available.

Myth #3 - Sushi is the the only thing you can get at a Sushi Restaurant
Fact = Often you have choices of non-Sushi En tree's, Appetizers and Deserts on the Menu

Myth #4 - You can't get great sushi in Omaha Nebraska
Fact = I had great sushi at Blue Sushi Sake Grill in Omaha Nebraska on Sunday December 12, 2010

Now that I got that cleared up - Let's Get To IT!

I ate sushi for the first time almost 10 years ago, while traveling for my old job to Denver. I was working downtown and stayed on the 16th Street Mall. I decided while sitting down for a drink at Wolfgang Pucks Restaurant, I would try some sushi from the sushi bar, and I loved it!

It was almost 7 years before I had it again, due to myth #4. Eventually I started trying some new local sushi places, and found a great one called Blue Sushi Sake Grill. Then after 3 years of trying to talk her into it, I finally got my wife to agree to go out for sushi with me. So this past Sunday we enjoyed a wonderful lunch at Blue Sushi Sake Grill!

For the last few years, when I have had Sushi, I would stop in for lunch and get a Spicy Tuna Roll (Spicy Tekka). It was suggested to me that the best way to enjoy Blue Sushi Sake Grill, is to go with a someone and order a few different small plate items to share them. So since I got my wife convinced to have an opened mind about sushi, we planned our trip and it went great. Let me take you through our meal.

First we got their on Sunday right at noon, when the opened. Come to find out on Sunday from noon to 8pm they have some great happy hour specials if you sit in the lounge area. So we sat down in a comfy love seat in the lounge and enjoyed our lunch while taking in some NFL football!

Like I said we took the advice of ordering several different small plate items and shared them.


Edamame Hummus - Japanese cucumbers, carrots, olive oil, toasted sesame seeds, curry crostini

This was my wife's favorite, and I will admit this is the best hummus dip on the planet! The fresh crunch of the Japanese cucumbers and carrots with the wonderful flavorful hummus. Even if you think you don't like hummus try this, it takes hummus to a new level!

Mango Crab Rangoon
- scallions, mango & mirin purée, fire-roasted red pepper sauce

We have always loved crab rangoons, So the Mango Crab Rangoon's had our curiosity. We found the little bit of mango really brought a new element to the overall flavor, and the sauces have perfect contrast!

Grilled Chicken Lettuce Wraps - bean sprouts, scallions, toasted cashews, puffed glass noodles, cucumber sunomono, cilantro sprigs, sunflower sprouts, pickled carrots, sesame rice noodles, creamy cilantro, spicy peanut, house-made sweet chili sauce

We have had Lettuce Wraps at other place and I have even made them at home, but Blue's are different than the others we have had. The thing about Blue's Lettuce Wraps is they are laid out on a platter with several different elements and sauces so you can put them together different every time and get a variety of taste in one dish!

House Salad - mixed greens, pickled carrots, Japanese cucumbers, red onions, cherry tomatoes, scallions, daikon sprouts, carrot ginger or wasabi soy vinaigrette

We had no intention of ordering a salad, but when we were reading the menu , it caught our eyes and we had to have one. I can honestly say, this would be a wonder lite lunch by itself. Very fresh and a lot of flavor but still lite!

Cherry Bomb - tuna, jalapeño, rice tempura, spicy sauce, ponzu

My wife is new to sushi, so she wasn't ready to try anything raw yet. So I was more than happy to eat these myself. Let me tell you it is called a Cherry Bomb for a reason. A huge explosion of taste! You get the great freshness of the savory tuna with punch of the jalapeno's and the spices!
It was great and fun to eat! If you like a little kick try these!

Tidal Wave - shrimp tempura, crab tempura, cream cheese, sweet wasabi & eel sauce

These are not raw, so I got these for my wife to try as her first attempt in to the wonderful world of Sushi. I also tried them, because I normally on eat raw sushi, but wow I really like these, it was a lot different then the raw, but it had a wonderful savory flavor and I will try other cooked items! The sauce on these really enhanced the flavor.

Spicy Tekka
- spicy tuna roll
These are my all time favorite, most of the time I get sushi, this is my standard and I will admit, Blue does it best! I could sit and eat these like popcorn all day!

Now I know that sounds like a lot of food - Well it was a ton of food! Let me tell you we had a feast and had left overs for lunch the next day!

The best thing about this trip is my wife had a great time and loved the food, which will lead to me having more sushi! We also found a lot of other things on the menu that was awesome! So even if your don't think you like sushi, go to Blue Sushi Sake Grill and order a nice variety of dishes and share them with some, but please open your mind and try a piece of sushi! I promise most of you will become a huge fan!

I want to thank the staff at Blue who served us that day, they were a great bunch of young people who really know how to make people feel comfortable and welcome. We will be back!
I suggest you get out to Blue today!

Blue Sushi Sake Grill
14450 Eagle Run Dr.
Omaha, NE 68116