6020 Maple Street
Omaha, NE 68104-4104
Thanks to a great suggestion from Josefina Loza, the Omaha World Herald’s reporter on all things fun (and generally legal), I made my way to Benson (a funky area of Omaha) to a place called Musette Bar. I have never heard of this place, so I decided to not read up on it all and just walk in the door to see what happens. Generally I try to read something about the place before I get there just to be prepared, but this time I thought it would be fun to do a totally blind review.
First Impressions: I parked across the street to size the place up, it didn’t look like much of anything, but it did have a nice older dive look to it. The outside was painted old swimming pool blue with red awnings and what looked to be a hand painted sign stated that I was in the right place. Had I done some reading about the place before I got there I would not have been as shocked to discover when I walked in the door that the place is basically a pool hall! I didn’t see that one coming from the outside.
The Bar: The place is A LOT larger on the inside than you would guess from the outside. There are 7 pool tables with the right amount of room around each one so you’re not getting in the way of a game being shot next to you. Toward the back are three of the longest shuffleboard tables I have ever seen…each one looks like an airport runway. The physical bar has three sides and also is pretty big, but not what I would call a comfortable place to sit for a long time. This place reminds me of something…but what is it? Oh I know! The scene from the Beat It video shot in a pool hall!
Eight beers on tap, including the prerequisite PBR and a pretty well-stocked cooler. Looking for a shot and a beer joint? You’re in the right place.
The Crowd: It was pool league night, so there were a decent amount of people either shooting pool, or getting ready to shoot pool. I’m guessing nearly 90% of the crowd were male and most either had at least one if not all of the following: a wife beater, denim shorts, multiple tats and/or a mustache. Everyone seemed nice enough, but this clearly is a place where the regulars know each other very well.
Service: The bartender (and league pool player) was a cross between Francis “Psycho” Sawyer from the movie Stripes and the old Adam Sandler character “Stickpin Quinn”. When I first sat down he didn’t really seem to notice (or care) so I figured I would just wait to see how long it took him to take my order. He eventually asked “do you want something?” I gave him $20 bill and he returned with my beer and threw my change back at me…literally. In fairness, for all he knew I was with the state looking to bust the place, so I would have been leery of me too. As the night went on, he never missed a beat asking if I needed another beer, while shooting pool. Good multitasking in my book.
Price: I paid $3 a bottle for beer and I did not see any signs for specials, nor was I going to ask at this place. I thought it was a bit pricey for the what the place is, but, no one else seemed to care so neither did I.
Food: Chips, pretzels and I did see a sign that said a large “bag of nuts” was $1. The small bag was .60 cents. That’s it.
A/V: Two TVs in the place. One was on (playing Dog the Bounty Hunter) and the other was in the back of the place. Not a bar to watch sports. But, like any good dive they do have the circa 1986 arcade game Rampage (I don’t even remember how to play that one any more) What was good though was the audio in the jukebox. It is one of those Internet jukeboxes so it can play just about anything…I was happy that the regulars were paying their hard-earned money for Stevie Ray Vaughn and many similar songs. It was when SRV came blasting out of the speakers that I saw how you could hang out here with a group of friends and get shitfaced.
Restrooms: Labeled “His” and “Hers” they were surprisingly nice. Big and roomy, not too smelly and much cleaner than I could have anticipated.
Bartender Chat: Not a lot to chat about with a bartender who also is shooting in a pool league. But at one point one the few women that were in there asked if the kitchen was open. He responded by telling her “It would be, if we had one” then looked at me and rolled his eyes. That did make me laugh and I thought of letting her know that a large bag of nuts was only a dollar, but figured I should keep my yap shut.
How Far Did My $20 Go: Not too far. Depending on how big of a tip you’re going to leave, 20 bucks gets you 5-6 bottled beers. Not outrageous, but not what I would call cheap by dive prices.
Final Impressions: This is the kind of place you come to with a group of people to hang out with for an evening... it has everything you need to feel right at home if you like to shoot pool in a dive atmosphere. I may need to come back to Musette with a group of people to see if I change my final impression of the place(which I though would be higher becasue I love to shoot pool). If nothing else it is a good place, worthy of checking out if you’re in the mood for some pool…and large bags of nuts for a buck. (Come on, tell me SOMEONE knows the beer nuts and deer nuts joke??????)