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Monday, August 30, 2010

Summer 2010

Wow!  The summer sure went fast.  After months of swimming, traveling, eating and drinking, I am finally getting back to the blog.  We tried a number of new restaurants this summer and met some wonderful people along the way.  This blog is going to be dedicated to the new establishments we tried while on vacation.

Gottberg Brew Pub/Duster’s Restaurant, Columbus
With some good advice from Dad, we headed out early on our tour of Northeast/Eastern Nebraska.  We were told we had to stop in Columbus at Duster's Restaurant.
We got there in the early afternoon, too late for lunch and too early for dinner, but just in time for beer.  The restaurant itself was beautiful and we were disappointed we would not be dining there.  We found our seats at the bar in the Gottberg Brew Pub.  The pub was outstanding!  The decor was exactly what a brew pub should look like; metal and wood sophistication.  We tried every beverage the pub created and even had the bartender calling the brewmaster to answer some of our tougher questions.  The brews were comparable to other breweries we have tried, but the real treat was the root beer.  This was the first time we had left a brewery with a growler of soda instead of beer!
If you are heading towards Columbus, we would suggest you stop at Duster's Restaurant/Gottberg Brew Pub.  We will be back to try the food that comes highly recommend from Dad; who is picky when it comes to restaurants.

The Veranda at Divots Conference Center, Norfolk
The first night of our trip, we met some friends at The Veranda, which is located in the impressive Divots Conference Center in Norfolk.  We were told this was the nicest restaurant in Norfolk and we were not disappointed.  The menu was simply amazing, with dishes one would expect only to find in larger cities.
The soups and salads were exquisite and though we had heard others rave about the duck, we both went with something a little more traditional.  Dustin had the BBQ ribs and I ordered the "Award-Winning Maryland Crab Cakes."  The ribs were done to perfection and if I was more fond of horseradish, I would have enjoyed the crab cakes.  Horseradish is one of those flavors I think should be included in the description of the dish.  All in all, it was a beautiful meal and worth the money to try The Veranda.

Tuscan Villa Bed and Breakfast, Pierce
That night we stayed at the Tuscan Villa Bed and Breakfast located a few miles to the west of Pierce.  Dane and Pam Halsey have built a beautiful house to share their hospitality.  We were the only couple staying there that night, so we got to choose which room we wanted.  We chose the Venetian, though any of the rooms would have been acceptable.
Pam went above and beyond and served us breakfast the next morning on the balcony.  The waffles, sausage, fresh peaches, and coffee were a great start to the day.  Tuscan Villa is definitely going on our Top 5 Bed and Breakfast list. 

Cuthills Vineyards, Pierce
It was a quick trip from Tuscan Villa to the winery as they are literally next door.  This was one of the most educational trips to any winery we've been to.  We had an excellent time talking with Ed and Holly and learning all about the different grapes Ed was working on.  The wine was good, even though Dustin was disappointed because they quit making many of the wines he wanted to try.  Wish we could have stayed longer, but a group of wine newbies came in and needed more attention that we did.  If you are looking for a nice weekend away, head on up to Pierce.  You won't be disappointed.

Uptown Brewery, Stanton
Ed and Holly recommended we stop in Stanton for lunch and our travel book agreed.  This restaurant was once located in Norfolk and was moved to Stanton in 2001.  We ate in the pub area, as this is what we seem to be more comfortable with.  I had the special which was the chicken salad on a croissant and Dustin had the beef noodle soup.  Wow!  They were not kidding when they said the food here was amazing.  The service was top-notch and the beer selection rivaled that of any restaurant in Lincoln.  They even had my favorite beer, the Brown Brunette from the Nebraska Brewing Company.
The Uptown Brewery also boasts a large wine selection available for off-sale.  It was quite impressive for a small town pub.

Big Cottonwood Vineyards and Winery, Tekamah
After lunch we headed towards Tekamah to do a little more wine tasting.  We stopped at one of our favorites, Silver Hills, before making the short trip down the road to Big Cottonwood.  This winery is located on a beautiful farm.  We tried several wines and had a nice discussion about pelicans in Nebraska (they are native, in case you were wondering).  Overall the wine was good and we took home a bottle of their Blushing Pelican.

We stayed the next night at the Magnolia in downtown Omaha.  This is a national chain of hotels, but it sure doesn't feel that way.  We love staying here and take advantage of all the amenities offered:  free wine & beer at happy hour, cookies and milk in the evening, breakfast buffet, and we even score free valet.

We tried to go to Dixie Quicks on Sunday, but couldn't get a reservation for the time we wanted.  We tried to go to Rivera's but they are closed on Sunday.  So we went to the casinos and I won $400 on a slot machine.  Needless to say, we forgot all about our disappointing luck with the restaurants.

Parker’s Smokehouse, Nebraska City
Sunday night we dined at Parker's Smokehouse in Nebraska City.  We have been to Parker's in Lincoln many times and have always enjoyed the food.  We were sad to see the Nebraska City store so dead on a Sunday night.  Hopefully the good people of Nebraska City will figure out they have gem of a restaurant and frequent Parker's every night of the week.  We split the feast for two and could have shared it with another couple, there was so much food.

Lied Lodge, Nebraska City

Moral of the story:  if you have to stay in Nebraska City, the Lied Lodge is probably your best bet for a beautiful stay.  Just don't expect to get your money's worth, even with a great view.

Wow. . .okay, now that was a long blog.  If you are still reading this; good for you!  We will probably head back to Northeast Nebraska in the near future.  There were so many places that we simply did not have time to try.  Post your suggestions for the next time we head up that direction.