The chefs of Shevy's Sports and Steaks simmer slow-roasted prime rib in the kitchen, and the restaurant's five dining areas steep patrons in sports nostalgia. In the Heisman Lounge, photos of all the Heisman Trophy winners smile upon servers as they Hail Mary menu items, such as chicken-fried steak, onto diners' tables. Classic baseball memorabilia crowds the walls of a rustic-style dining room, and outside on a 750-square-foot paved patio, guests sit beside a bustling downtown street as they decide what toppings to draft for their custom Black Angus burgers. Throughout the restaurant, high-definition televisions broadcast games available through NFL and MLB packages, as well as all Nebraska pay-per-view football games and checkers matches.
"No cookbooks. No measuring cups. No measuring spoons. No scales. I know from experience," Be Lam—the executive chef of Saigon Surface—responded when Jane Palmer of the Omaha World-Herald asked if she uses a cookbook. Lam, who runs the restaurant with the help of her daughter and son, Ngoc and Tu Nguyen, told Palmer that she learned her culinary and artistic techniques from a group of elders in her native Saigon. She creates her signature grilled pork dish, for example, not from a written-down formula but from a memorized marinade that developed over years of practice and bestows flavor to the meat over several days.
Though steeped in the food wisdom of several generations, the restaurant's overall vibe is decidedly modern. The Omaha World-Herald, which had already named it one of the Top 8 restaurants in 2011, said that it "mixes the traditional with the technological to great effect. It's a welcome addition to the downtown dining scene." There's an iPad at every table, which guests can use to order a lychee martini from the lime-green-backlit bar or fiddle with when their dates decide to show their ventriloquism skills. The walls, meanwhile, are covered with dark wood paneling, which provides a pleasingly stark contrast to the sleek white booths and tables.
The Lauter Tun's veteran purveyors of bacchanalian beverages curate extensive lists of rare craft beers and classic and contemporary cocktails. Culled from all corners of the globe and the moon, the ever-expanding selection of draft beers currently features 22 different pours. Chilled bottles house the classic Belgian Delirium Tremens, Pilsner Urquell from the Czech Republic, and Canada's La Fin du Monde, among myriad other stouts, wheat beers, porters, and IPAs. The cocktail list stands out with its old-fashioned drinks, such as Pimm's Cups, Gin Rickeys, and Brandy Alexanders, which haven't been seen since Truman took over as the prime minister of Arkansas. These effervescent pints and deftly shaken cocktails ripple in their glasses in time to the live music of local bands and balladeers who grace The Lauter Tun's stage most nights of the week.
Inside The Den, two activities rule: savoring cold beer and playing fun games. Until 2 a.m. every night, bartenders pour nine beers on tap, ranging from familiar standards such as Guinness to The Den's house beer, Grizzly Honey Brown. A tenth tap supplies Giggling Grizzly Punch, a mixture of lemonade and four Pinnacle Vodka flavors garnished with gummy bears.
Drinks in hand, patrons can pose for pictures or select tunes on the Virtuo jukebox, which comes installed with its own built-in camera. Elsewhere, darts zip toward bull's eyes, life-sized Jenga pieces tower and totter, and Pac-Man races around eating fruit. Now connected to Room 13 Pool & Game Room, The Den's gaming inventory extends to several billiards tables, virtual shuffleboard, and classic shoot-em-ups like Time Crisis 3.
For 15 years, Sean O’Casey’s has doubled as a family-friendly restaurant and a place to sip pints of draft beers while watching sports games on two big-screen televisions. Ales, stouts, and Irish whiskeys pair with classic American bites on the menu, which includes half-pound burgers, grilled salmon, and the signature sky-high reuben. Guests partake amid a classic pub atmosphere depicted via exposed brick, dark wood, and framed Guinness posters.
The owners of Brewsky’s Food & Spirits know that the best way to get friends and family together is to create a vibrant space filled with live music, all the best sporting events on TV, frosty brews, and a menu of comfort foods. While taking pride in being the spot to gather for Huskers games, as well as all other major sporting events, the owners also take immense satisfaction in serving a selection of juicy steaks, flame-broiled burgers, and wings that their chef concocted exclusively for the restaurant. The team also entertains patrons with trivia nights and shows such as dueling pianos or quarreling xylophones at the Haymarket location.