... as a frequent traveler throughout the Midwest, thought I would share a few dining experiences of mine from last week.
In Des Moines, I had a lovely dinner at Sage... I've dined there in the past & have occasionally been turned off by lackluster service & prices that are just a few dollars than most in Des Moines... but sheesh, if the *quality* of their food & the wine list don't make up for about everything else! The wine selections are truly impressive, including many half-bottles & interesting varietals -- they're one of the few Iowa restaurants with a Wine Spectator Award, & with good reason. Their menu, overall, is small -- usually two salad choices, two hot small plates, two cold small plates, etc., but they do incredible things with seafood & generally have an interesting soup. The glass-enclosed & candle-lit bar area is a real treat -- I dined there, & as I've found at many locations in the past, you can occasionally get better service than in the restaurant itself (if you're fortunate enough to have an educated bartender, which I did on this trip).
All in all, Sage is a terrific expense-account restaurant!
In Omaha, I've been a frequent diner at Vivace (billed as "contemporary Italian," in the Old Market area) & was bit disappointed this time 'round. Their menu was previously organized by regions of Italy, Spain, Germany, etc., with most dishes tapas-sized & fewer traditional entrees -- but since my last visit, it's been overhauled, with focus on more traditional servings, etc. The waiter informed us the changes had been requested by patrons... go figure... anyway, I thought the selection was a bit poorer than it had been, & overall, the atmosphere/interior a bit more lackluster.
And as a side note -- in Lincoln (NE) -- I found a darling little lunch cafe downtown called The Green Gateau (sp?). It is a patisserie, also, so is a bit heavy on the muffins & rolls & such, but they have nice sandwiches & soups & quiches, etc. I would venture to say it's one of the nicer lunch spots in the city. Many of their dishes are pre-made, but definitely homemade, & they beat the heck out of Applebees.