Saturday, December 31, 2011

Joe's Duck Inn, Omaha -- REVIEW

Let's duck in...shall we?
13336 Millard Ave
Omaha, NE 68137
(402) 895-9987

Talk about a bar that I’ve said “I need to stop in there soon” about a 1,000 times, it’s this one. But, I may still have never stepped into Joe’s Duck Inn, if it wasn’t for the fact that the “New” Addy’s made it impossible to find parking, and once I did, there was no where to sit at the bar. Note to self, a review of the new Addy’s “Ultra Longue” needs to happen sooner than later…it is nothing like the old place. Not to be deterred, since I was finally able to escape the family for a few hours over the holidays, I got back in the HitThatDive mobile and made a b-line to Joe’s Duck Inn.

Pros: Great service, laid back atmosphere, made to feel like a regular immediately.
Cons: A few douchy looking regulars stopped in for a bit.

First Impressions: This is not what I expected at all. It’s big, clean and looks like the kind of place I would come to on a regular basis. Not sure why I assumed this was going to be a real dump on the inside, but it has a cool 1980ish bar/lounge vibe going on. So far…good stuff.

Drinking money
The Bar: It says behind the bar that Joe’s (that’s how they answer the phone) was established in 1983…and my guess is it’s not changed much in the last three decades. It’s a relatively dark place, with light wood paneling all over the walls and the front of the bar. I counted roughly 10 stools at the bar (with plenty of room between each one) and 10 table and booths in the main bar area. There also is a second room with pool tables, shuffleboard, a pinball machine and an honest-to-goodness phone booth. This is the kind of bar you can hang out in for hours.

The Crowd: When I got there at roughly 6:00 on a Friday night it was just me and older couple playing cards. Well, I thought they were playing cards from the noise but as it turned out, the old lady was addicted to playing strip tickets and the noise I heard was her ripping them open over and over (when she wasn't slugging Busch Light out of the bottle). Later in the night a well-dressed blond walked in and was met by her douche of a date. A few “gansta” wannabes stopped in looking for a buddy, and a party of hard-drinking United Rentals guys were on the way…so let’s assume you can expect a mixed bag here.

Festive time of year
Service: One woman working behind the bar who made me feel like a regular long before I ever took a seat. My beer was never empty, my mug was ALWAYS filled to the top and the mixed drinks she was pouring looked to be good and strong. This is how to be a bartender folks…it’s really not all that difficult. Well, I take that back, it must be difficult…most bartenders seem to spend more time sending texts than waiting on customers these days.

Price: I was drinking beer from a good old-fashioned beer mug that was setting me back $1.75. I did read somewhere that their “mini-pitchers” are a good deal as well…so keep that in mind. I think I hear heard that a Jack and Coke was $4.50…and keep in mind…the drink looked to be JACK and coke. So, good enough prices for me. I didn’t see a single sign for happy hour specials, so I can’t be a big help on that one.

Food: Assorted chips behind the bar and a few gumball machines near the old school phone booth that sell peanuts and other assorted nuts.

Rack 'em!
Entertainment: There is a good variety of things to do if you’re the type that can’t sit down including the aforementioned pool tables, shuffleboard, pinball and a dart board. Also, they have the NFL Sunday Ticket and four HD TV’s to watch the games on. I think I saw a jukebox there as well but the only sound the night I was there came from one of the awful college bowl games of the season.

Restroom: Small but clean. I always seem to get a laugh out of public restrooms that just have your regular old toilet just sitting there. On the upside, they’re not a long walk from your barstool.

Bartender Chat: Like a great bartender should do, we talked about a little bit of everything but didn’t really talk about anything at all. The world is running thin on hardworking bartenders who know how to make small talk without dumping all their baggage on their customers.

One at a time
How Far Did My $20 Go: Not bad actually, twenty bucks will get you 10 mugs of beer in a Cheers-looking beer mug…minus all the foam that Sam Malone used to pour for you. Again, that’s how far MY $20 got me, but I’m not sure of what the happy hour prices are so can one of the Joe’s regulars give me a hint about the other prices?

Final Impressions: There’s no doubt that this is a good place to hang out for the night with a group or friends and be made to feel like a regular from the minute you walk in the door. I really have no complaints about this bar at all, but I just feel like it was missing something (but I have no idea what) the night I was there. Maybe a few more people when I was there would make the place seem even better? Not sure…in any case if you get the chance HIT THIS DIVE!


Dive-O-Meter
7



Cheers to a "Cheers" beer mug.

Joe's Duck Inn on Urbanspoon

Friday, December 30, 2011

Joe's Duck Inn, Omaha -- PREVIEW

13336 Millard Ave
Omaha, NE 68137
(402) 895-9987

Man, it seems like months since I've done an actual bar review.  Oh wait, to be specific, it's been FOUR months.  Jeez...I'm even lazier than I give myself credit for sometimes.  As they say, hard work pays off some day...but laziness pays off right now!  Lazy or not...Joe's Duck Inn turned out to be a great way to break my hibernation.  Details tomorrow (most likely).

A real beer mug!  How can you go wrong?

The Loose Moose -- Omaha Wing Challenge

Willing to give it a try
4915 N. 120th St.
Omaha, NE, 68164
402-933- 2040

My continued quest to find Omaha’s best wings next took me to a place I had never set foot in before…The Loose Moose. Why this place? Well, I got stuck having to drive a few kids to the local ice rink and I got hungry (sometimes the backstory isn’t all that interesting). I’ve never heard anything thing bad about this bar, on the other hand, I’ve really never heard ANYTHING about this place. But, they do have wings on the menu…so what the hell.

For those keeping score at home, the best HitThatDive wing score is a total of 50 points based on scores from five separate categories. So far, after two stops, our score to beat is 47 from Oscar’s.

First Impression: Well, they must be good. The menu clearly states “Loose Moose’s Awesome Wings!” Apparently the folks that run this place seem to thing their wings are good, but I have my doubts. Why? Well the extremely nice waitress asked me if I wanted the sauce on the side. Ummmmmm…no. No I don’t.

Hey, not too shabby
After a relatively short wait, an order of steaming hot wings showed up at the table. They looked good…they smelled good…wonder if they taste good. Why am I so surprised?

Score: 8

Sauce: You can order with either “Hot” sauce (which was a Buffalo-like sauce) or BBQ (who does that). It wasn’t the greatest sauce I ever had, but nothing to really complain about either. If nothing else, the wings were good and coated in the decent-enough hot sauce. For those that fear the word “Hot” when it comes to sauce, safe to say the more accurate term would be a "hint of spicy". But like I said, it wasn’t too bad.

Score: 7

Crispy: Close…oh so close…to being fried just right. Next time, just count to an extra 60 seconds before pulling these bad boys out of the basket…and they would have been perfect. As they were, they were nowhere close to being under cooked, so not a whole lot to complain about so far. In fact, the wings here have been a bit of a surprise.

Score: 7

Cook just 60 seconds longer
Size: There are those that might consider these wings too small, but that is not a complaint you’ll find from me. What I liked most about Loose Moose wings is that they were all a uniform size, which makes them easier to cook. Yeah, I know, I just said they good have cooked just a tab bit longer, but so far that’s really been my only complaint.

Score: 9

Extras: Hey, lookie here, celery AND carrots. Damn, there’s so much of each it looks my plate could have kept a rabbit happy for days. A nice big side of blue cheese was on the plate too…but wait…no extra plate for the bones? Really, I’m going to get this picky? Oh, I’m in a good mood today, so I’ll forget that it wasn’t there. The fantastic waitress even went out of her way to get me extra napkins, apparently she got a good look at what a pig I am when I eat.

Score: 9

Walking in the door and expecting to be completely underwhelmed, the Loose Moose wings were actually a pleasant surprise. Are they “I have to drive across town just to have these wings good”? No . But they are very good wings that if you ever find yourself in this part of Omaha and are in the mood for solid wings at a good price…you will not be disappointed.

Final Score: 40 out of 50

If you're ever in the area, stop by for wings


 Loose Moose Bar & Grill on Urbanspoon

Thursday, December 29, 2011

Oscar's -- Omaha Wing Challenge

Start with "Char-Buffed"
17330 Lakeside Hills Plaza
Omaha, NE 68130
(402) 758-1910

Restuarant 2

My quest to find Omaha’s best wings next took me to West Omaha’s noted spot for wings…Oscar’s. Now, over the years, I’ve consumed countless dozens of wings here (and even more pints of beer than that) so I’m no Oscar's rookie. Actually, the first time I had wings at here, I wasn’t the world’s biggest fan. But, that was seven years ago, and for the life of me I can’t remember why I didn’t like them the first time? Anyway…let’s get down to the business at hand…

For those keeping score at home, the best HitThatDive wing score is a total of 50 points based on scores from five separate categories. But, enough of me babbling…let’s eat some wings.

First Impression: It starts with the menu…there are several sauces that you can choose from. Here’s what I would do if I were you, order them “Char-buffed” and then have them “double-dipped” in the Buffalo sauce…or do whatever you want…it’s your money after all.

Have them "Double-Dipped"
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. And why is that a good thing you ask? Good question! It’s because the char-buffing (is that a word?) makes them smell like they are hot off an outdoor charcoal grill. That being said, for the wing “purists” in the crowd, they are not quite classic Buffalo wings. But who gives two-shits, they are making my mouth water.

Score: 9

Sauce: Again, not a classic Buffalo-style sauce, but it has a great taste and has a bit of zip to it…without being too spicy for the wimps in the crowd. Now, some Oscar’s regulars will tell you it’s a sin to ruin a char-buffed wing with extra sauce…but their sauce mixed with the grilled flavor is a great combination in my book.

Score: 9

Crispy: Here’s where ordering you wings char-buffed really pays off…Oscar’s has perfected the art of making wings crispy without over-cooking them to small pieces of charcoal. In the past I’ve been here with people that order them “char-buffed AND extra crispy”…like I said earlier…there’s a lot of ways to order your wings here so it’s always a good idea to experiment with several different combinations.

Score: 10

Perfect Size
Size: Perfect! I don’t understand people who want those huge mutant-looking wings…like they have a Tanner’s. Oscar’s wings are of a normal size for a chicken…meaning the wings don’t look like they spent some time with Barry Bonds at the BALCO labs. Having normal-sized wings ensures that they are all cooking at the same rate and guarantees that you don’t bite in to an ALMOST fully cooked wing. And wings of this size, when cooked properly, make it easy to “Fred Flintstone” them, meaning you can just put a full wing in your mouth and then slide out nothing but a bone (yes, please make some sort of oral sex reference here…I know I would have).

Score: 10

Extras: Celery, plenty of napkins and several extra plates. Throw in a few wetnaps and two sides of blue cheese and Oscar’s seems to have everything covered. One sort of nitpicky thing, the blue cheese and the ranch pretty much taste the same to me. Good blue cheese is almost impossible to find anywhere these days so maybe I should just start bringing my own.

Score: 9

Oscar’s has some of the best wings, in my opinion, in Omaha. Again, they are not “classic” Buffalo wings…but who cares? They are great wings and they are consistently great. Keep in mind that this is one of the best-run restaurants in town, it’s always crowded and you can bring your family here or show up with your drinking buddies and get hammered while watching sports all day long. Great wings and a get sports bar…this will be a hard place to beat.

Final Score: 47 out of 50.



47 out of 50.  That's hard to beat!

 Oscar's Pizza & Sports Grill on Urbanspoon

Friday, December 23, 2011

Martini's Bar, Bedford Falls -- PREVIEW

This time last year I somehow found myself in the awesome party town of Pottersville throwing down a few shots at a great place called Nick's.  So I was more than psyched to be in pretty much the same part of the country, at the same time of the year, to tie-one-on with some of the locals.  However, as much as Martini's reminded me EXACTLY of Nick's on the outside, that is exactly how much it sucked on the inside.  Details tomorrow...

Not nearly as fun as I had hoped.