Omaha Tap House: At Least the Beer Isn’t Flat

Jaclyn’s Pick:
Omaha Tap House
579 N 155th Plaza
Fare: Burgers and beer
Cost: $45 for shared appetizer, dinner and shared dessert
Reservations: Not needed

Brown sugar burger. Peanut butter, jelly and bacon – on a burger. Cheesy hashbrowns – wait for it — on a burger. Salt and pepper onion rings. Fair style cheese curds. Legendary wings. Dozens of unique craft beers. These are the words and menu items that get foodies excited. They are the types of culinary creations that cause you to drool on your keyboard while checking out the menu. The promise and potential of the menu was enough to make Omaha Tap House’s newest West Omaha location (original located at 14th and Farnam) this month’s NFF adventure.

***

When my eyes landed on the all the different stouts I’d never heard of – I got excited. Raspberry Mocha Cream Stout, Oatmeal Stout on Nitro, Smores Moo Joos, Red Velvet Cake on Nitro. I closed my eyes and picked one – the Red Velvet. It was lighter tasting – and looking – than I expected, but it went down easy.

Martha got the Coffee Ale, which promised to be medium-bodied. But it couldn’t have been darker and was just too bitter for her taste. I, however, love a good dark beer and helped her finish it.

For our appetizer, we got the salt and pepper onion rings.
Not served with anything besides the table ketchup – the onion rings came out a little too late to enjoy and really focus on. Overall, we wouldn’t have necessarily known they came out late except that our server apologized and by the time we had each taken our first bite of onion ring – another employee was setting down our main course.

The onion rings were good enough to scarf down before moving on – but weren’t amazing.

When you set such high expectations for your impending meal, you risk being let down. And that’s what happened to both of us.

I got the Brown Sugar Burger, which had brown sugar and cinnamon bacon, smoked cheddar cheese, fried onions and honey BBQ sauce. The bacon was not even close to crispy, I could hardly taste the cheese or fried onions and the bun didn’t do its job of holding everything together. None of the ingredients seemed fresh, but rather prepackaged and thrown together. It wasn’t the worst burger I’ve had, but it certainly was not the best. My meal’s only saving grace was the cheesy hashbrowns I got as a side.

Martha got The Hangover. Recommended by the server as well as being one of the two options she was debating – she, too, dove in with high expectations. The burger and ingredients were good enough – fried egg, cheesy hashbrowns, American cheese and Tap House sauce. But Martha’s bun also crumbled around the burger and added more work. And since we had to finish our appetizer before shifting to our main course (already on the table) – she also felt the sweet potato fries and burger were cooling down.

Fully prepared to find dessert elsewhere, our server asked if we’d be interested in fried cheesecake bites or brownies a la mode. Sticking to our rule – if they serve dessert, we’ll get it – we went with the brownies. Points for honesty, our server told us the brownies would take a bit to thaw from the freezer before they could make it. We allowed it, but made sure not to get our hopes up. With a pretty presentation of caramel and chocolate drizzles and swirls, the dessert rang as flat as the rest of the meal. It tried. But it didn’t succeed.

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We were truly torn about what to rate this place. Menu and anticipation? Fork way up – we were excited. Atmosphere and ambiance – still a solid fork up. But our hope and ambition for the food and experience itself can’t redeem what actually hit the plates in front of us and how underwhelmed we felt after all was said and done. If we’re honest – the food was a sad fork down. But we stand behind our decision to give it an official “Fork Sideways” rating because we think Omaha Tap House can do better. It has the potential to fix a few things here and there and really capitalize on its own promise and ambitions. We’ll be back. We hope the REAL Tap House steps forward next time.

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