Tuesday, February 15, 2011

Old Mill Lounge, Omaha -- REVIEW

A bunker or a level of Angry Birds?
10944 West Dodge Road
Omaha, NE

(402) 493-1456 ‎

Because of a crazy travel schedule, I realized I hadn’t been in a bar in Omaha for a while. Fear not, I’ve been in plenty of other drinking establishments, just none in the state in which I pay my taxes. It was Valentine’s night and I needed an excuse to get out of the house and avoid cuddling while watching “Notting Hill” and eating Bon Bons. Quick, I need a bar to review…any bar! A 5.2 second Google search led me to a place called Old Mill Lounge. Never heard of it…what the hell…it beats a Hugh Grant movie even if it means I’m not getting “lucky” on Valentine’s Day.

First Impressions: The outside of the building is a cross between a World War II bunker and a level of Angry Birds that I have yet to beat on my iPad. There were exactly two cars parked in front and no windows. Nothing could have adequately warned me about what the place looked like on the inside. How do I put it? Ever wonder what a bar would look like if you took a 70s lounge and melded it with the Pirates of the Caribbean? Yeah…it’s kind of like that.

It sure SMELLS like a bar
The Bar: Average loungy looking place to fire back a drink or two. It smells EXACTLY like a bar my Dad managed when I was a kid (wonder if they sell that smell in a can?). If you could put that smell in a can, and sell it, the name would have to be called “Smoke and Sorrow”. There are four beers on tap, a Jager machine, and your usual bar fare…except Wild Turkey…they were out. The rest of the place has tons of tables and chairs, several high-top tables and two leather couches (unclear on why they are needed). But the thing you will notice most is that there are just things placed all over the ceiling and in odd little alcoves around the building. Most of the décor looks like it came from the same ACME company that Wyle E. Coyote would buy things from. Words can’t do it justice.

The Crowd: Two dudes when I got there. For all I know they were skipping out on their old ladies too. But something tells me it’s been a long while between Valentine’s dates for this crowd. As it turns out, they were nice enough people and even a few more showed up. All dudes, all over 50, and the word “valentine” never entered the conversation. Fine by me.

Almost looks like a ski lodge in this pic
Service: I’m amazed actually, between talking on her cell phone non-stop…and ducking out for a smoke every few minutes…my bartender of the evening was always “Jane” on-the-spot when my glass was almost empty. I will say on a negative note, as I was going to pay for my second round, the lady behind the bar ripped my "fiver" out of my hand faster than a Hobo grabbing for a ham sandwich and then plopped down my drink and did not respond to my rather meek “thank you”. Oh well…must have been time for another smoke.

Prices: I can’t be of much help on this one. Order a domestic draft and that will set you back $2.85. There were no signs for specials and, try as I might, I could not see how much the other drinkers were paying for their Jack and Cokes. They may have a happy hour (they may not) but one thing is sure if they do have one….they sure don’t advertise it.

Food: It does have bit of a pirate look to the place so the only food I saw were a few limes behind the bar that I assume were there to ward off scurvy. Other than that…do not plan on a eating here. Would you really want to anyway?

What the hell are these for?
Entertainment: Two 20 year old TVs. One is an old, old school rear projection 4:3 aspect ratio “big” screen that I’m sure weighs more than a Fiat. The other was a TV I last saw in a college freshman’s dorm room. Not a place to watch a game. They do have a pool table (with no working light over it), a dart board and an Internet jukebox that no one was using. The biggest attraction at this place seemed to be the 40 year old cigarette machine. Or, maybe it was “How I Met Your Mother” that we all watched on the crappy rear projection. Let’s call it a tie between the two.

Rest Rooms: Dingy, orange and a tad bit moldy. In fairness, they smelled better than the bar after one of the four dudes sitting there ripped a major fart and never owned up to it.

Bartender Chat: Between smoking, talking on the phone and ripping money out of my hand…there wasn’t much to say. On the other hand, the dudes at the bar were happy to talk about everything from the TV show “Soap” to doing impressions of the late Sam Kinnison. One guy in his 60’s showed up for less than 10 minutes, sucked down two drinks and left. As he left as quickly as he entered he said “that’s why I’m still married. Fair enough my good man, if only the bartender had something that amusing to say.

Bring Purell!
How Far DId My $20 Go:  Sticking with the price of domestic beer, that's the only thing I know the price of at this joint, you can have seven domestic pints.  That's not awful I suppose.

Final Impressions: Have I said anything nice about this place yet? I don’t think that I have, and yet somehow, the Old Mill Lounge is a place you need to come to if you like a hard-to-describe dive bar. Did I love it? No. Did I hate it? Not so much. Let me just say this, you can do way worse than this place and where else can you  have a drink or two a bar where Captain Jack Sparrow and Larry from Three’s Company would hang out…you have to come here at least once in a while.

DIVE-O-METER
5

 
 


Happy Valentine's Day dude
Old Mill Lounge on Urbanspoon

4 comments:

  1. Great review. The couple of times I went there, the same phone-toting, cigarette-smoking bartender re-filled my Jack and diet by "topping off" my empty glass sitting right in front of me, then saying, "You didn't want more ice, did you?" (The "top shelf" was $4.50. Wells were $3.75.) I was alone in the bar when I went the first time, her response to every question I asked or attempt to start a conversation was "I don't know about that." Now, I like a surly bartender, but really? The second time I went there, there was one other guy in there who was from out of town, staying at the hotel across the street. He was in Omaha for a funeral and I felt really bad that he had only this place within walking distance to "drown his sorrows", but it seemed fitting in a way. STILL -- there's something about the place that captured my imagination. I could see it in 1973 being filled with Omaha's newest "suburbanites" on their way home from their downtown jobs out to their homes WAY OUT past 108th Street. It took me back to my childhood... then I slammed down my Jack, let her rip the five out of my hand and left.

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  2. She's a real peach...ain't she! I really was going to bash the place, but there was something that was just so odd, I think people need to go there and experience it for themselves. Will I eve go back? Sure...it seems like a great place to go to when you're in the mood to bitch about things and not feel bad when you're doing it! $4.50 shelf...is that the going rate these days??

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  3. Living (and drinking) mostly in The Old Market, I don't have a good perspective on what "the going rates" are. It's a destination area, so the prices tend to be high. I've paid anything from $3 for a Happy Hour well drink to $6 for the name-brand stuff in some fancy-schmancy place.

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  4. Wine from a box, bartender pulling lemon slices from a nasty looking container with the hands he had just taken money with, wiping an overflowing beer glass with the bar towel he had just used to wipe the counter -- need I say more.

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