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 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 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 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 Charlie Brown on Halloween.

Oh how I wish
After several bites, I still could not pick up on any 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 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 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'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 me or I would not have said that twice now.

Smaller ones to the back...

When they start to look like'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 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

Thursday, February 26, 2015

Who Has the Best Wings in Omaha -- KING OF THE WING

The question WAS pretty simple a few years ago...who has the best Buffalo wings in Omaha?  As it turns out, my premise was somewhat flawed from the beginning.

You see, authentic Buffalo wings, and the wings more popular here in Omaha, vary somewhat. What's the biggest difference? The phenomenon we now know as "Char Buffed" wings.

First...let's have Omaha's Buffalo wing expert, and good friend, Ray Bullock of Ray's Original Buffalo Wings tell you what is technically a "Buffalo"wing.

The real difference is that technically Omaha wings do have sauce on them, but when they're char buffed, the sauce is is grilled into the wing to create the "char".

See, at Ray's you'll never get a char buffed wing, but at places where you can order an "Omaha wing" they also will "double dip" them back into sauce to give it a more traditional Buffalo feel. Confused? I think I am a little. But stick with me.

From here on out, HitThatDive will rate three types of wings...Buffalo-style as described by Ray. Omaha-style which originated, and are done to perfection daily at Addy's. And "Other" for when I run across wings like I had at Cruisers that were fantastic, but don't fit into either category.

What's missing from this list?  Let me know. But, as it stands for is the most comprehensive list of wing reviews in Omaha!

Pheasant Tavern
13909 S St 
Omaha, NE 68137
(402) 859-3311

48 out of 50 points
Choo Choo's Bar  and Grill 
14240 U Street  
Omaha, NE 68137
(402) 895-6617

This place is under new ownership and word on the street that the wing quality has slipped dramatically since this review. But at one point they were damn good Buffalo wings. Who wants to do a updated review of this one for me?
48 out of 50 points
Addy's Sports Bar and Grill
14110 S Street
Omaha NE 68137
(402) 991-2663

Now we're talking!  Not sure I have enough flowery language in my limited vocabulary to describe just how perfectly Addy's wings are cooked.  They are super crispy on the outside, hot and juicy on the inside, they are easy to pull from the get it.

47 out of 50 points

Oscars's Pizza And Sports Grille
17330 Lakeside Hills Plaza
Omaha, NE 68130
(402) 758-1910

The first thing I noticed, because usually I’m here with a buzz and not really taking notes on about my food, are that these wings smell JUST like the wings we would make at tailgate parties in Pittsburgh.

47 out of 50 points
8100 Cass Street
Omaha, NE

This was a perfect score. These were wings the size I remember growing up...the size where you can plow through 10 of them...and still complain about being hungry.  But, you fell like you go your money's worth too.

45 out of 50 points

The Good Life Sports Bar and Grill
1203 South 180th Street
Omaha NE 68130
(402) 933-2947

Another strong point of the wings here is that they're usually uniform in size (on the smaller side which is good) and I have yet to encounter any of the over-sized mutant buzzard wings that can NEVER be cooked properly with smaller pieces mixed into the fryer with them.
43 out of 50 points

Buffalo Company
4725 South 96th Street
Omaha NE 68127
(402) 592-9999

Some of the best sauce in town. All 10 wings were coated pretty uniformly but there may have been just a bit too much sauce for the ones on the bottom.  Not like they were totally drowning or anything, but, you run the risk if your wings aren't always crispy enough that this could potentially make the ones on the bottom a bit soggy.

40 out of 50 points

17330 Lakeside Hills Plaza
Omaha, NE 68130
(402) 758-1910

I get out my stopwatch and hit "Go" just after the server enters my order. Seven minutes, 16 seconds and .4 hundredths of a wings arrive.  HOLY DOG SHIT...that's fast by fast food standards!

38 out of 50 points

8634 F Street
Omaha NE 68127
402- 614-7445

* Keep in mind that Cruisers didn't even get points in the sauce category, and even with that hindrance, they scored better than a lot of wing places in the area who are far more well-known.  For the record, the sauce easily was an "8" which would have made these clock in at an impressive showing of 44 points. 

36* out of 50 points

Two Fine Irishmen
18101 R Plz  
Omaha, NE 68135
(402) 933-3990

Out of 13 wings, I would say just about half of them were the right size with a few mutant super-sized gristly bad boys thrown in the mix as well.
35 out of 50 points

15505 Ruggles St # 106
Omaha, NE

(402) 884-5100

No celery…are you shitting me??  Look if I order spaghetti and meatballs, I already assume that you’re going to give me sauce with my order.  Celery and wings is like peanut butter and jelly for crying outloud!  No celery with wings is inexcusable!

34 out of 50 points

13806 P Street
Omaha NE 68137
(402) 933-6612

Sauce: In a word..pepper.  Actually, pepper bordering on being Mace.  The sauce contained enough pepper to make any montreal steak in town feel completely inadequate.   When I equate "Hot" with wings I think in terms of Scoville Units not anti-riot pepper spray. 

31 out of 50 points

Brick Street Tavern
4936 South 135th Street
Omaha NE 68137
(402) 359-1604

Some were pretty crispy, some of them weren't. Kind of a mixed bag on this one. But it seemed that as I worked my way from the smaller ones to the larger ones...they were decidedly less crispy. And then...IT HAPPENED!

27 out of 50 points

7101 South 84th Street
LaVista, Nebraska 
(402) 339-1606

Quite frankly, you'd have to intentionally try to make something this bad. Worse yet, it took them nearly 20 minutes to get them to me after I ordered.  I assume 18 of those minutes were fishing around the dumpster out back to find ones left over from the night before.

2 out of 50 points