The door to Blatt Beer and Table is 135 strides and 27 stairs from Gate 2 at TD Ameritrade Park.
So it makes sense that College World Series fans — and one food writer — are checking it out during Omaha’s annual baseball fiesta.
I don’t usually review restaurants before they’ve been open at least one month, but we decided to make an exception for Blatt, the newest restaurant and bar in north downtown and the one that’s mere steps from the stadium gates.
I’m not giving it the full treatment — after all, it had been open only three days when I first visited. But I ate Blatt’s entire abbreviated menu, I hung out on its rooftop patio and I saw its beer menu, and I liked all of it.
Inside, Blatt is modern and rustic, with garage doors that lift on both sides to make it open-air and a bar made of old tin ceiling pieces, glass and wood.
I think it’s smart that Blatt launched with such an abbreviated menu. It means that they’re doing everything well, so far.
My husband and I both liked the Blatt burger, a thick, juicy patty served on a brioche bun with parmesan-pepper aioli and Guinness-braised onions. Ours came topped with flavorful aged white cheddar.
Tony Gentile, executive chef for Flagship Restaurant Group, told me later that the kitchen at Blatt has been pumping out about 1,000 burgers a day.
Being a former vegetarian, I was thrilled to see the vegetarian currywurst on the short menu. The meatless sausage on a pretzel bun tasted deeply of both curry and fennel and came topped with house-made sauerkraut. For those in the mood for meat, there’s the Blatwurst, a classic beer-braised link with similar fixings.
The Indian-spiced char-grilled chicken sandwich burst with flavor, thanks to a healthy heap of cilantro and mango chutney. The chicken, though blackened, was still juicy.
On our first visit, our sandwiches came with house-made frites, hand-cut thin and cooked to a rich brown crispness and coated with sea salt, and on our second, we were served more standard shoestring fries of the freezer section variety. A manager came over to us after we’d begun eating and told us that because of volume, Blatt had temporarily stopped serving the house-made fries, but planned to go back to them soon.
We also tried the two appetizers on the list: chewy pretzel bites served with mustard and cheese and crispy, addictively savory chicharrones, fried pork skins topped with chile powder and served with fresh lime.
After the series, Gentile told me, the restaurant will debut a full menu. I got a sneak peek: It has more meatless entrees, more sandwiches, classics like steak frites and fish and chips and a full menu of craft cocktails.
“The whole approach is really well-executed bar food that pairs well with beer,” Gentile said.
The restaurant hired Dustin Bushon, one of the owners of Krug Park in Benson, to help pull together its lengthy and impressive beer list. Elle Lynch, former owner of Daily Grub, worked on the cocktail list.
Gentile said it’s important that Omahans don’t just associate Blatt with the CWS. The restaurant falls between gastropub and sports bar, though he said they want it to be more about the food and beer than sports.
“That is part of the challenge,” he said. “We want to create a situation where people come here for other reasons.”
We’ll review Blatt again sometime after early July, when its larger menu is up and running and more regular Omahans will be able to visit without fighting traffic and crowds.
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