Eaten in 2010

Dish Year in Review

Things come and go in the food business just about as regularly as in fashion. That fondue sensation? Defunct. Asian fusion isn’t as enticing as it once was. And let’s not even start on which restaurants shuffled through which strip malls in Omaha’s suburbs. 2010 saw the same closings and openings (notably the near completion of the Midtown Crossing development and Metropolitan Community College’s new building for the Institute for Culinary Arts) but also signs of fads now nearly fully integrated into daily life. Some folks thought the green, local and organic movement would go the way of the 8-track, passed over by something more user friendly. But it looks like it may be here to stay. Trader Joe’s opened a retail location for the nationwide, organic-centered grocery chain in November at 103rd and Pacific. The store has been packed since opening day with shoppers going nuts over Trader Joe’s brand of wallet-friendly natural and organic products and food. Local food was the forefront; a five-course meal that christened an art installation gracing the sides of some towering grain elevators. Organizers of Emerging Terrain’s Stored Potential dinner brought together the best of the area’s farmer and chefs to present a harvest meal to 500 attendees in early October. The dinner involved the work of many artists and volunteers to shine a light on the importance of knowing where food comes from. Every food item served at the meal was sourced locally except the salt and sugar. The chefs, nine in all (plus the Nebraska Beer Company brewmaster), all source local and organically grown or raised food for their restaurants, demonstrating a commitment to sustainability from members across the Omaha community. Midtown Crossing at Turner Park received its first tenants just more than a year ago, bringing a plethora of new dining options to Omaha. Marcus Midtown Theater has four screens and a full-service kitchen that brings dinner and drinks to moviegoers. Though technically something that happened in 2009, it was a prelude to the eating that would and will continue to happen around 33rd and Farnam. Loft 610 was the first sit-down restaurant to open, serving fine contemporary cuisine in a flashy setting. Ingredient was the second restaurant, followed shortly by the return of Délice European Bakery and Café. Both restaurants cater more to the lunch crowd, although Délice, once a resident of the Old Market, presents Omahans with French pastries and elaborate cakes. CRAVE, a small chain out of Minnesota, opened in October, and Cantina Laredo, another small chain, came weeks later. Both restaurants bank strongly on an exuberant environment to draw crowds. The Grey Plume, the nation’s greenest restaurant, opened at the beginning of December, making it only the second locally owned restaurant to take up space in the new development (after Délice). Blanc Burgers will be the final restaurant (save Cold Stone Creamery) to open at the development when it debuts in January. It has been almost a year since Metro’s Institute for Culinary Arts moved into its new, LEED-certified building on the Fort campus with the Sage Bistro opening soon after. The new building and bistro matches the institute’s already sterling reputation. It will be exciting to see how the institute’s graduating students impact Omaha’s culinary landscape in years to come. Perhaps they will be the subject of future “year in review” features. Full Disclosure: The author is a student at MCC’s Institute for Culinary Arts.

posted at 12:31 pm
on Wednesday, December 29th, 2010

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