Thursday, September 29, 2011

Day Off in Omaha


After spending a couple of days unpacking, I wanted a day off to explore.  Because I had to be back in Virginia to teach, I only got a couple weeks to visit. So, Dennis and I put boxes and arranging and setting up the apartment on hold and headed to Omaha for the day. 

The first adventure was to the Omaha Zoo.  Omaha Zoo is probably the best zoo I’ve ever been to.  I’ve never really seen a zoo that so embraced exhibits that allowed you to feel like you were getting up close to the animals.  In the Bio Dome, roadrunners darted around my feet.  Then,while in the Lied Jungle exhibit, Dennis noticed a bat flying around loose.  I squealed (yes, squealed) and rushed out of the cave.  Thinking one had gotten loose, we then noticed several flying around.  Come to find out, fruit bats are allowed to fly around unencumbered by a cage, but tend to congregate near a hanging basket of cut up melon and other fruits.  You can walk by the area and duck as the fly right over your head. 
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Besides watching the fruit bats grazing, another moment of watching the animals enjoying their food was in the Big Cat exhibit.  As we got to the Leopard cage, I noticed it gnawing on something meaty.  It took half a beat to discover a jawline and about two more beats for the leopard to paw it over to reveal a set of eyes.   Yes, the Omaha Zoo gets you up close with the nitty-gritty of the animal kingdom.  

Since we had so much fun at the zoo and it was getting so close to dinner, Dennis and I decided to check out Downtown Omaha.  It was hard to choose a place to eat because there were several good candidates.  After getting the gist and trying to debate, I mentioned to Dennis how I had just done a whole series of posts about finding a place to eat and one of them was “go with the microbrewery.” Since there was one we had just walked by, Upstream Brewing Co., it seemed like I should put my assertion to the test and give it a shot.

I hadn’t planned at all to do a post about eating out in Omaha.  I was so behind in my blogging and wasn’t in much need of another post.  But, the meal was so fantastic and so perfect for the evening, that I had to mention it. 
For beers, I had the Raspberry Lager and the Dundee Export Scotch Ale.  I was leery of the Raspberry, but my reserve was unwarranted because it was bright and refreshing and just what I wanted after a day of walking around in the sun.  The Scotch Ale (have I mentioned lately how much I love scotch ales) was also a fantastic beer to sip; it has all the body of a dark beer and none of the heaviness. They also have seasonal beers that I hope I can catch at some point: "Tree of Life: Toasted Coconut Porter," a Chocolate Stout with guajillo chilies, and a "Lemon Blueberry Haze Wit."  
Both main dishes came with an options of sides, so I had the "Tomato Basil Parmesan" soup and Dennis has the soup of the day, a spicy sausage and pepper combination.  The tomato soup was so rich and creamy and deeply satisfying.  It tasted more like a delicious cheesy marinara and was so much fun to heap on bread: kind of like deconstructed pizza. 

For the main, Dennis had a blackened "Half-Pound Brewer's Burger" with guacamole and pepper jack and I had the "Omaha Steak Cold Roast Beef Sandwich."  Both the meat on mine and his hamburger was flavorful and moist and mouthwatering.  The avocado and cheese gave the hamburger creaminess and the tangy horseradish cream for the roast beef sandwich gave bite and pizzazz. 
Sitting in the outdoor seating area, enjoying the great food and beer, and taking in the casual and communal feeling of Omaha, made for a much needed night out.  

Upstream Brewing Co on Urbanspoon
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