Jazz serves up the tasty, authentic fare and festive party atmosphere one typically finds while strolling down Bourbon Street. Creole and Cajun cravers can browse the restaurant's massive menu, featuring fresh seafood, po' boy sandwiches ($7.49), zesty pastas ($12.99/full order), and spicy blackened entrees. Diners are immersed in a hodgepodge of New Orleans–based décor and swinging live music throughout the week as local bands perform blues and jazz standards, helping visitors let the good times roll while keeping the bad times safely encased in electrified lock boxes.
Chefs spin classic American dishes with a touch of gourmet flare. The "Americana fusion" technique, which yields such comforting cuisine as smoked-chicken-enhanced gouda mac 'n' cheese, helped Zin Room earn a spot on the Omaha World-Herald's list of Top 8 Restaurants in 2011, as well as ongoing usage in love songs written by foodies.
Located inside the luxurious Hotel Deco, the restaurant features sleek lights and chandeliers that softly illuminate diners' artistically arranged plates and rough-hewn pillars that support two floors of seating. Behind the stocked bar, bartenders mix drinks and use the wine wall's sliding ladder to allude to former lives as librarians.
"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.
Eschewing fancy trappings for a simple, everybody's-welcome atmosphere, The Foundation's lurid neon lights, exposed brick, and oak-beamed ceiling are a means to an end—and that end is the bar's 25 beers on tap and 100+ bottled varieties. Say the word and The Foundation's bartenders will slice off a frothy cut of Fat Tire, Goose Island, Skinny Dip, or Boulevard Ale and magically capture its thundering majesty inside a pint glass ($4). Or venture further into the realm of crafts and imports with a bottle of Purple Haze, Saint Bridget's, or Summit Pale Ale. To offset the usual side effect of carbonated beverages––weightlessness––a hearty menu of classic pub grub will keep you tethered to earth. Pre-game for the Huskers with an avalanche of Foundation nachos ($7.95, or keep one hand open for celebrating touchdowns by munching on an Omaha Reuben ($7.59), served with a side of fresh-cut fries ($8.59 with fries). Gamblers who are short on cash after foolishly taking the long odds against the sun rising tomorrow can find solace in the Cheapskate (two sliders and fries, $3.99).