Tuesday, April 21, 2015

HTD's Best Beard in Omaha and Calendar Pin-Up Contest

Do YOU have what it takes to be named Mr. or Mrs. HitThatDive? Full details, and sign-ups, will be ready to go on Friday...right here at HitThatDive.com!

Sunday, April 19, 2015

Omaha Wing Challenge -- Pipeline Tavern

1300 South 72nd Street
Omaha NE 698124

I'll be fair to start this one off, I actually like the food at the Pipeline Tavern...but until last night I had never ordered the wings. Let's get to the moral of this entire story...if you're here on a Saturday...order the pretty awesome burger and fries for $5. Now, about these wings. Oy vey...where to begin?

Oh, I know, I'll start with something pleasant.  I was at the Pipeline in the first place to catch up with Bob Bruce to see how his colonoscopy went from a few days ago. Yeah...this is the pleasant part. For those that don't know...Bob Bruce and the BBRE can be heard Monday-Friday on the Mighty 1290 KOIL with yours truly joining the fun every Friday from 5-6. 

Keep in mind that I actually like this bar.

Now, let's review some wings. 

How It Works: Wings are rated in five categories for a total potential perfect score of 50. The current reigning champion (by virtue of a committee vote) is The Pheasant with a total score of 48. 

And, for shits and giggles (mostly to get the shits) the worst score has been the severed toe wings at LaVista Keno which flatlined at a 2. Just click right here to get the complete list of HitThatDive wings reviews. Even the ones that I'd rather not remember. 

First Impressions: I knew there was going to be a problem when, in a completely empty bar, an order of wings came out of the kitchen in less than 8ish minutes. Why is that a problem you ask? 

Well, I figured since the cook literally had nothing to do, it would have been the perfect time to throw some wings in a fryer and watch them sizzle for the appropriate amount of time of ...12 to 15 minutes. It would at least beat watching the paint in the kitchen dry. 

But son of a gun, here they are in the blink of an eye.  And at least from initial impression...they were indeed steaming hot. I just know that something seems "fishy" with these wings (and boy was I right...you'll see why in just a bit). Something seemed off with the sauce too, but I think there's an actual section in the wing reviews that addresses that topic...but it's been awhile since I wrote one of these so I can't seen to remember. 

SCORE: 5 out of 10


Sauce: A ha! I do write about the sauce. I knew it!  You can order the wings here with three pretty bland-sounding sauces. The closest I assumed to Buffalo sauce said something to the effect of "Frank's Hot Sauce" as one of the options...so I went with that. 

In something I had never seen before, it was like the wings were coated with Rain-X and the chicken literally seemed to be repelling the "sauce".  Which actually, was neither here nor there because so far the stuff masquerading at Frank's Hot Sauce is as uninspired as everything about this order of wings. In fact, the sauce was so bland and uninteresting I never even made a note about it. 

Since it practically was invisible, I'd like to make a suggestion to rename the stuff so they have their own signature wing flavor. So next time I order wings at the Pipeline, I would like to have the "Claude Rains Sauce" as one of my options. Ask for it by name. 

I'll have mine with an extra side of Claude, please
Score: 2 out of 10 

Crispy:  Here's my guess as to  how they could pump out an order of wings in eight minutes. These wings gave off a distinct baked flavor, so I'm guessing that they bake up a whole batch, keep them in the refrigerator and then wait for some unsuspecting sucker to order them.  

Once ordered, a few of the baked (and cold) wings get tossed into a fryer for a minute or so, then get slapped into a bowl with some Claude Rains sauce, hustled onto a plate and brought out faster than you can say "pass the Tums."  

Not only were they not crispy, in the least, they had the same slimy consistency of swallowing a raw oyster...remember I said something seemed a little fishy (ZING!). Not to mention that they were slightly undercooked and suddenly you have a rather unremarkable plate of $7.95 wings that there was no chance I was going to eat all of. 

It repels sauce

Score: 0 out of 10  

Size: This is a direct quote from the HTD Facebook page that I could not agree more with. "I can only imagine what they even did to make a chicken that big...I wouldn't eat if even if it were cooked properly."  And that's  the problem,  far too often anymore, bars are serving GIANT mutant wings and they have no idea how to cook them properly. 

When you take a nearly cooked pterodactyl wing, let it cool, and then toss it in they fryer for a bit, there is no chance that it's going to be remotely close to being cooked properly. It might technically be "done"...but this isn't horseshoes. Close does not come close to cutting it. 

I was not surprised in the least when I bit into one of the biggest of the Solomon Grundy-looking chicken toes to find that it was cold on the inside. Not frozen like some of the ones I've had recently...but still. Cold chicken that came to the bar with steam coming off of it?  How do you even pull that one off? Oh wait, I think I just did figure that out. 

Score: 3 out of 10

Oyster anyone?

Extras: Oh, you know, I have to immediately deduct five points for no celery. But other than that, I guess I don't have much to bitch about on this one. Extra napkins? Check. Not horrible blue cheese? Check. All the other food I've ever had here before. Usually great. So I'm not going to nit-pick too much here.

Score: 5 out of 10

Final Score: 15 out of 50

Stick to burgers

Every now and then I'll offer my suggestions on how to improve things in the places that I write about. And, I feel that I need to do that with the wings at the Pipeline. So here it goes...just take them off the menu! Please. 

Places that make great wings care about every aspect of the wings they serve to their customers. That clearly is not the case here. Wings are not a priority, and that's fine, focus on the food that you do make well and leave the wing making to to places that give a damn.  

That being said, I'll be back here soon (I'll never order the wings again) but the burgers are great and it's a fun bar to kickback in and have a few beers.  Just do us all a favor, get a Sharpie and cross any reference to your sad and uninteresting wings off them menu...the world will be a happier place when you do. 

Friday, April 3, 2015

Scuba Steve's Latest Column for the Omaha World-Herald

In case you missed it.

Read the complete HitThatDive review of Crossbones Bar right here ==>> Crossbones Bar Omaha.

Wednesday, April 1, 2015

What's Your Story?

What's YOUR bar story? Have a funny story to tell from a bar...HTD wants to record you telling it just like Kirk from Leavenworth Bar. Give this first one a look and see if you can top it.

So, the question is, who has the next funny story? 

Saturday, March 28, 2015

Scuba Steve on TBL with Mike'l Severe

Earlier this month I sat down with Mike'l Severe to talk dive bars, food and why I'm wearing shorts in March...in Omaha.

Friday, March 13, 2015

Finnegan's Pub and Grill -- Omaha Wing Challenge

4390 120th Street
Omaha NE 68137

I swear, it's not like I leave the house hoping to get some gut-wrenchingly bad food. But I'll be damned if that doesn't seem to happen more than it doesn't these days. Case in point...Finnegan's Pub. Not sure I would have ever ventured into this establishment if not for more than a few folks who stated they have "The best wings in Omaha!"

For whatever reason, I was highly skeptical of that claim for no other reason than not sure I've really ever heard anything about the food here. Making the horribly awful mistake of wondering to myself on the way out the door "How bad can they be anyway?" I was off!

And, like the good little salmonella  magnet that I am, I was headed to a place I had no real prior reconnoissance on...so you can all thank me now that I've done it for you.

Some of you know how this works, for those that don't here's how it goes...wings are rated in 5 categories for a total potential perfect score of 50. The current reigning champion (by virtue of a committee vote) is The Pheasant with a total score of 48.  And, for shits and giggles (mostly to get the shits) the worst score has been the severed toe wings at LaVista Keno which flatlined at a 2. But look out boys...you have a challenger trying to beat you to the bottom of the HitThatDive scrap heap.

First Impressions: For the record, I had no issues with the bar or the service. Kind of a neat little pub tucked away next to a giant gun store. Also, did I mention that I sat at the corner of the bar right next to a garbage can? This turned out to be a handy place to sit.

I ordered 8 wings with hot sauce. "Do you want them char buffed?" I was asked.  "Why not!" I eagerly responded. I figure, if the bartender is offering a suggestion that's the way I go. I can't lose.
After about 12 minutes, or so, I rather bland-looking plate of wings came out from the kitchen.  They had an odd shine to them and didn't really smell like anything.

Looks like a manta ray

This will not go well. But, as I've been told before "Love everything for 5 minutes." So I'm going to give it a go.

Score: 2 out of 10

Sauce: Unlike the sauce at LaVista Keno that seemed to be almost mean and vindictive, the sauce here just seemed sad and lonely...like Charlie Brown on Halloween.

Oh how I wish
After several bites, I still could not pick up on any flavor...at all. After chewing a bit longer I did finally detect a hint of something flavor-wise.  But what? As close as I could tell it was the equivalent of eating construction paper in elementary school. Did it taste good? No. Will it kill you? Not so much.

But, at some point in life (even at the age of 8) a person has to be introspective enough to wonder why they decided to eat paper in the first place.  Maybe some Elmer's Glue would have helped at to give things a little "kick"....but alas...there was none to be found. Can't score points if you don't actually serve wings that taste like anything. 

Score: ZERO out of 10. 

Crispy: Oh, let's not beat around the bush on this one. Serving undercooked frozen wings is never a good practice. And, quite frankly, could be quite dangerous to people that consume them. Except for me of course...I have an iron stomach.  

Out of eight wings, 4 were completely cold and raw in the middle. I managed to choke down three and a half of the "cooked" ones until  until the growing puddle of red ooze became too much for me to look at. Wing number four went right in the trash can I was sitting next to. That was the first good thing that happened since I started eating here!

Size: A grab bag of oversized Jersey Shore-looking "mooks" each one more over injected with steroids than the next. Maybe way too much Axe Body Spray would make these things look better, well, if they follow the Jersey Shore way of thinking anyway.  

These didn't come from any chicken I've even encountered. One was so grotesquely larger than the rest, I just knew I needed a box for it (and a few of his other goombas) to take out for further inspection later. 

Score: ZERO out of 10

Paging Dr. Addison

"Dr. Addison"
I took a few at Addy's Sports Bar on the way home to have Tim Addison and Adam (kitchen manager for Addy's), Omaha's Char Buff Experts, weigh in on what the hell was going on here. After watching Tim dissect the largest of the bunch, I almost puked at the bar. (For the record, I did not). 

"Dr." Addison confirmed my original diagnosis, that this was indeed still raw chicken. I much more brave man than I am, Addison pulled the wing apart to find a good third of is completely uncooked...of course he didn't have a few of them marinating in his digestive track like I did. 

He could even pick up on the very distinct smell of raw chicken. Refusing his offer for me to smell it too...that was all I needed to know...this was gross by any standards! 

Class is in session
Extras: Oh, do I have to? Fine. The celery was fresh. The side of white stuff wasn't offensive, and I did enjoy the people working behind the bar....so the wings here have that going for them...which is nice. 

Score: 2 out of 10 

Final Score 4 out o 50

It is what is . Does this happen to other people, or only to me? Seems like I've consumed way too many undercooked wings in Omaha lately. Is it because that people know sort of know what I look like now and they're intentionally trying to poison me? For the record...I sure hope not! 

Would Finnegan's probably like a redo on the order I wings I was served? I sure would hope they would. But, see, that's just it...shouldn't you want safe food coming out of your kitchen regardless who's sitting at your bar?

It's not like this is a "I wanted MEDIUM RARE a steak and damnit this steak is MEDIUM!! Head's will roll!" Sort of situation. This is simply cooking poultry to right internal temperature. 

Not sure if it's ready to serve? Use a meat thermometer right after you pull the batch out of the fryer. Here's a hint, use the biggest wing as your test subject, if it's internal temperature reads 34 degrees...start again. Blah! 

What IS that first one? 

Wednesday, March 11, 2015

Scuba Steve Co-Hosts The Pat and JT Show Omaha Q 98.5

In case you missed it from earlier today, HitThatDive's Scuba Steve filled in for host Pat Safford on Omaha's Modern Music station Q 98.5. Can you guess his middle name?

Listen to the entire hour right here ==>> Scuba Steve Co-Hosts Pat and JT. 

Tuesday, March 10, 2015

Make Official HitThatDive "Omaha" Wings at Home -- RECIPE

If you've ever read a HitThatDive wing review before, you know that it can get downright brutal when it comes to bashing awful wings served in some restaurants these days.  But why so brutal? That's simple...this is an issue of simply cooking chicken...not quantum physics! And yet, people seem to screw it up every day. 

Keep in mind that I've been trying to perfect wings at home for more than a quarter of a century...yikes...is that accurate? In any case, I figure that if I'm going to be critical of others, it might be wise for me to demonstrate that I do actually know what I'm talking about.

So keep reading and get ready to make wings just like the ones in the picture below...even if you don't really know how to cook all that well.  And remember, the HitThatDive mantra when it comes to making chicken the right way...the number one ingredient that you need to cook them the right way is TIME. Don't ever rush things. 

The good part of this recipe is that you wind up with the now Omaha-famous "Char Buff" wing with all the benefits of a more traditional Buffalo wing. 

You. Yes you can make these at home too.

What You Will Need

This is all you need!
  • 3-4 pounds of fresh chicken wings. NOT FROZEN!
  • 12 ounce bottle of Frank's Red Hot -- Original. No exceptions
  • 1 stick of unsalted butter
  • Soy Sauce (for marinade)
  • Trappey's Red Devil Sauce (for marinade) 
  • Garlic powder
  • Onion powder
  • Celery
  • Blue Cheese (Ken's or Marie's are best)
  • Cheap aluminum baking pan
  • Beer
  • Music
  • Hand sanitizer
  • Grill

Step One: Marinade

Simple, right?
Take your 3-4 pounds of wings and find a dish big enough to hold them all...told you this wasn't rocket science. First sprinkle the chicken with both the garlic and the onion powder. How much? That's really up to you.

Dump enough of the Trappey's sauce in the dish to cover as much of the wings as possible, again, this isn't an exact science. Take your soy sauce and shake in roughly 4-5 tablespoons over the wings and mix as best as possible with a large fork...or spoon...or whatever. Just not your hands if possible...this is raw chicken!

This only needs 30-60 minutes to marinade...you'll see why later on. 

Should look like this. Simple enough. 

This is after all, raw poultry, so a quick hit of hand sanitizer (at least for a germ freak like me) after each step is highly encouraged. 
Well worth $2

Step Two: The Sauce

Time to make some sauce
This one is as easy as it gets. Dump the whole bottle of Frank's in a sauce pan. Plop a little more than two thirds of the stick of butter in the hot sauce. Give each of the garlic and onion powder a good sprinkle overtop of everything. Put on the lowest heat setting possible and let simmer until the butter is completely melted. Stir occasionally.

That's how is looks when you start.

Step Three: Let's Get Ready to Cook

Now, as you can see, my original wing recipe was based from going to tailgate parties in Pittsburgh. So, we quickly had to figure out how to forego using a deep fryer, yet still getting them as crispy, if not more so, that you can from deep frying. 

If you don't have a charcoal grill, a gas grill will have to do. No matter the type of grill you're gong to use, these need to be cooked (mostly) with indirect heat. So, if you're using charcoal, dump it only in one side of the grill. If you're using gas (ugh) only turn on one side of the grill. 



Indirect heat

As you let the grill heat up, now would be a good time to run back to the kitchen to check the sauce and stir it up a bit. At no point should it come to a boil, but make sure that butter is thoroughly melted and that the sauce is a hot, but not boiling, temperature.

When the butter is completely melted, remove from heat. 

Step Four: Time to Cook

The only additional thing that you'll need is a cheap aluminum baking pan. What you're going to to is transfer half of the wings directly to the grill in a spot as far away from the heat as possible. 

The rest of the wings, along with all of the marinade will go directly into the cheap aluminum pan a little bit closer to the heat. Cover...and go crack a beer. Check back in about 10 minutes. 

Start like this...

Half in...half on the grill
After 10 minutes, or so, take all of the wings out of the pan of the marinade and put them on the grill. Now, take all the wings that were on the grill and place them in the marinade. Once that's done, which kind of sucks to do, cover and walk away for another 10 minutes or so.

Now...everybody switch places...

Be patient.

Step Five: Get That Dog Out of Here!


Step Six: Time to Get Crispy

This is really the only potentially tricky part. The key is to get the crispy, without charring them too much. Success rate here can vary wildly depending on how many beers it took you to get to this point. But, this is the critical stage, so try to keep your wits about you. 

No need for the lid, or the aluminum pan at this point. So use your tongs to carefully remove the pan from the grill and spread the wings out away for the heat evenly. 

Use your tongs to flip the wings over every few minutes to ensure they're all getting the same amount of crispy going on.

Every minute or so...

You're better of having the larger pieces closer to the heat. Make sure to keep an eye on any that might be getting too crispy and move them to the back of the line.

Move them closer to the heat...

Little, by little, every minute or two...move the wings progressively closer to your heat source. As you make your march toward the final crispy product, make sure to keep moving the smaller ones toward the back...trust me or I would not have said that twice now.

Smaller ones to the back...

When they start to look like this...it's time to get ready to transfer all the wings to a CLEAN dish to move them back to the kitchen. Or wherever it is you plan to add the final touches. Make sure to use a different dish...no cross contamination...please!

Until they look like this!

Step Seven: Time to Add Sauce

What I like to do is take the wings 6-8 at at time and move them to a bowl using a slotted spoon. Pour in just enough sauce to cover the wings, but not so much that is looks they're going to drown. 

"Char Buffed"

Now, just keep flipping the wings around in your somewhat homemade sauce until they are all evenly coated. Using your slotted spoon, take the wings out of the and them on a plate. Done! Well, pretty much done. Repeat the technique for adding sauce for as many people that are eating. DUH!

Don't like sauce, and just prefer an Omaha wing, don't add sauce...they're good to go that way as is. But use the sauce. Trust me again!

"Double Dipped" 

Step Eight: Let's Eat!

What you'll notice, well if you do it right, is that you will make wings that are crispy on the outside. Not over cooked and chewy on the inside.  And pull so easily from the bone...that you'll be able to devour about 15 of them after all of your hard work!

Looking good

Just add beer
Questions? Comments? Let me know!

Scuba Steve

Never enough wings!

Saturday, March 7, 2015

HitThatDive on The Bottom Line

In case you missed it live, here's the clip of Scuba Steve sitting down with Mike'l Severe and talking wings, crabs and why some people can't wait to wear shorts when the temperature is above 45 degrees.

Listen to the clip right here! ==>> Scuba Steve on The Bottom Line

Thursday, March 5, 2015

Where's HitThatDive This Week?

If you haven't seen it yet, here's the link to my latest column for the Omaha World-Herald.

Tomorrow at 4:05 I'll be in live in studio on The Bottom Line with Mike'l Severe. You can listen live right here.

And then at 5:00, I'll be on the Bob Bruce Radio Experience #BBRE (now as a regular guest) on the Mighty 1290 KOIL. Feel free to listen to the show and call in and harass me at any point!

Scuba Steve