Tuesday, October 28, 2008

The Market Basket

Restaurant: The Market Basket
Address: 911 S 87th Ave, in Countryside Village Shopping Center
Website: http://marketbasketomaha.com/
Genres: bakery, deli
Check Constraints: Unknown
Chain: No | More Omaha Locations: No

  • New York Reuben ($9.00)
If I don't start this review now, it may be forgotten. The Market Basket is hidden away in the back corner of a small shopping center near 90th and Pacific St. It has an upscale sort of feel to it. The prices have an upscale sort of feel as well, however. They have a wide range of foods and plenty of healthier foods on the menu. They have an assortment of items displayed in a case in front of the counter and some shelves of jellies or preserves as you walk in. They also had some non-food items that looked like haircare, skincare, or soaps.

The reuben was a pastrami sandwich with shredded fresh vegetables and thousand island dressing. It was a bit different than what I was expecting, but it was decent. It came with potato chips that Market Basket makes themselves. The chips were large slices of potato, far less greasy than average chips, and came to us unsalted. I thought they were a bit bland, honestly.

Market Basket has a unique atmosphere and decent food, but I think the higher prices keep it off my "must return" list.

  • Herb Roasted Beef Sandwich ($9?)
  • Cup of White Tuscan Bean Soup ($3?)
  • Brownie ($2?)
  • Lemon Bar ($2?)
As Moogle says, this review was about to be lost to the sands of time; it has clearly already started happening, as I seem to have utterly misplaced the receipt and so my prices are only approximate.

Market Basket is a strange blending of what you would call a "bistro" and a bakery/restaurant not unlike Wheatfields or Panera. It's a lot closer to the latter of the two, but it's striving for the upscale feel more than anything. The dining area is split into two parts, one of which is near all their display cases and isn't especially distinctive, style-wise, but the other part is done in a very modern style and appears to be meant a lot more for couples or small groups than the five-to-six people we usually eat lunch with.

Still, being on the side with the bakery display is interesting in and of itself. The bakery here puts out quite a number of interesting things, including a large number of intriguing cakes. Like a lot of bakery/restaurants, you can purchase these over the counter. It's probably worth mentioning that they seem to have a lot of chocolate confectioneries, including some rather curious fudges which I have heard are good but didn't actually try at this visit.

What I did try was the herb-roasted beef sandwich. It's served on ciabatta, which in this case was toothsome but not overly chewy like some ciabatta tends to be. The beef was tender but chewy enough that you're almost better off cutting off bites of the sandwich, or you're going to pull a lot of beef out of the sandwich with that first bite. It was topped with Swiss, red onions and tomatoes, making for a flavor combination I've had before and which I feel works very well for roast beef sandwiches. More importantly, though, the entire sandwich was spread with very very coarse-ground mustard. Seriously, there were almost more seeds than actual spread. Which isn't to say that this was bad; it was actually not overwhelmingly mustard-y, and the rest of the flavors of the sandwich did a good job balancing the strong flavor. It would have been amazing if it was served warm, but cold it was still very good. I'd get it again, but I think it would be absolutely best on an early fall afternoon.

The Tuscan white bean soup was, to be honest, not very memorable. It had the flavor one would expect, the seasoning one would expect, and the texture one would expect, so it's fairly safe to say if you've enjoyed this soup elsewhere, you'll like it here. The desserts, however, were damn good. The brownie had a large hit of chocolate flavor and was appropriately dense for what it was - which is to say, a brownie, and not a piece of chocolate cake. It was also fairly moist inside, a good bet that it was baked fresh that day - not that I expected anything different. The lemon bar, on the other hand, was good but not nearly as excellent. If you really dig lemon bars, go for it, but otherwise wander elsewhere in their catalogue of sweets.

The cost here is definitely high - you're paying in part for the "bistro" classification - but it comes down to what you place value on in a restaurant. If you think it's worth it for fresher ingredients and some more interesting taste experiences, you'll enjoy it. If you're looking for a quick sandwich on a busy Saturday, stick to a slightly less upscale restaurant.

  • Chicken Pita ($9.50)
  • Cup of White Gazpacho ($3.50)
I am smrt, I wrote my prices down on the intertubes.

The environment was more or less as was described, although it looked like they had a darker more 'dining room' environment off to the right, but we got seated in the brighter section right near the bakery case. I was going to order two soups, but sadly they were out of a delicious squashy soup, so I just went with the one White Gazpacho. It was white and tasted very strongly of cucumber and sour cream. Which was not a bad flavor (Cham assures me that that flavor occurs elsewhere in the world, such as in sandwiches) but I couldn't quite manage the whole cup of it. The Chicken Pita had a lot of similar notes, but was far more complex and an extremely well put together dish. There wasn't much 'pita' to the chicken pita, and once it was gone it was a bit harder to manage the blend of chicken, fresh vegetables, and IIRC a light dressing. I vaguely remember strands of squash, lettuce, tomato, cucumbers, and more, but it has been a long time. My overall impression which I noted down, though, was that it had a very good balance, and for a dish to have a lot of complex notes that could all be tasted and also all worked together means it's a dish you should try. Just be careful managing your pita.

There's a lot more to try here that I was interested in, with a large variety of fresh seeming fare, so I'd definitely go back, even with the high price. Unfortunately for it, the place competes fairly strongly with Wheatfields and maybe Paradise in its proximity, both of which do similar things at good prices, but give it a try for its variety.

  • Fish 'n' Chips ($10.50)
I'm a fan of Fish 'n' Chips, so I ordered the Fish 'n' Chips. It came with a very large helping of coleslaw. I assume it was made in house, since it was unlike any I'd had before. It was a little less than dry and barely sweet, composed of (I'm going from a long distant memory here, so forgive me) julienned cabbage, red cabbage, carrots, zucchini, and yellow squash. I prefer my coleslaw a little wetter and a littler sweeter than what they offered, but it still had a really good crunch.

The chips were definitely made in house. They sliced potatoes the long way into about 1/16" thick pieces and fried them to a very hard crunchy. The level of crunchiness didn't work for them at all. You'd bite into one and, instead of giving you a clean cut, it would break into a bunch of smaller pieces that would dribble down your front. They were also pretty bland and had a slightly burnt taste to them. They definitely could have used some salt.

The fish had a classic light batter. They didn't offer any malt vinegar and by the time I'd thought to ask, the waitress had already disappeared and wasn't to be seen for a short time. The fish was still good though. The batter was flavorful and the fish wasn't too fishy.

Mecha's right that there were a lot of other interesting things on the menu that I'd like to try, but I find the prices a bit off-putting. And if I were to ever return, I'd definitely go for a side other than their chips.

1 comment:

Emily B. said...

Food is great - servers are young and cute! We need to bring this place back from the dead:-)