Thursday, May 14, 2009

Blue Planet Natural Grill

Restaurant: Blue Planet Natural Grill
Address: 6307 Center St. Suite 101
Website: Blue Planet Natural Grill
Genres: Cafe, Organic
Check Constraints: Short Order
Chain: Sorta| More Omaha Locations: No

  • Macaroni & Cheese Bowl (5.49)
    • Chicken (1.00)
    • Beef (1.00)
    • Bacon (1.00)
  • Sun Baked Fries (1.49)
  • Apple Muffin (1.99)
  • Orange Muffin (1.99)
  • Drink (1.49)
If you like eating outdoors, Blue Planet has a nice looking outdoor patio area for you to eat in. I do not like eating outdoors, especially in the heat, so screw that crap. The inside is nice and roomy, though, which I can get behind.

In any case, this is really about the food. The apple muffins are really more wheat or bran than apple, the apple flavor is very understated. Instead, opt for the orange muffin, which is better than any place short of Wheatfields.

The sun-baked fries are cooked via hot air instead of oil, and it shows. They're reasonably crisp, plenty good, but you're going to want to make use of their three different catsup blends. I am especially fond of the garlic catsup, and would not recommend the pineapple-mango. The sweet potato fries (with just a bit of cinnamon) are also excellent, and give an odd but not unpleasant flavor when combined with the catsups.

The macaroni and cheese is not really macaroni and cheese. It's penne rigate in a light cream sauce with a bare hint of cheese. If you come here expecting to get CHEESE, you are going to be disappointed. On the other hand, if you order the right meats with it, you can get a good flavor going. I suggest avoiding the ground beef, as it tends to overwhelm other flavors, but if you went with, say, chicken and ham, you could get a good not-quite-chicken cordon bleu going. On the up side, though, they are VERY generous with the grilled chicken, it's in large, tasty chunks and there's plenty of it. Well worth the buck it costs to get it.

I'd definitely eat here again, though it wouldn't really be my main choice, but being at around 60th and center makes it nice and accessible for a lot of people, at a pretty good price for what you get.


  • Santa Fe Salad ($7.99)
  • Drink ($1.49)
  • Edamame ($1.49)
As near as we can tell, this is the only Blue Planet Natural Grill in existence. Their website mentions franchise opportunities but doesn't list any additional locations, so I feel fairly safe in saying this is not only a new restaurant for Omaha, but a new restaurant in general. I also feel safe in saying it's a good thing it's here.

The thematic gist of the place is natural/organic and/or healthy food which does not beg unpleasant comparisons to giant bricks of shredded wheat or overcooked brussels sprouts. That puts it, culinarily, in the same vein as McFoster's Natural Kind Cafe, which is pretty much an Omaha staple as far as I'm concerned. Still, this place is to McFoster's what Chipotle would be to a good Mexican restaurant; a streamlined, more publicly-accessible version of the food.

That's not to say it's a fast food joint, but it's quite definitely short-order. You get a number at the counter and wait for your food. Personally I think the inside of the place can get a little cramped when it's full, but there is actually room to sit down, as opposed to Worker's Take-Out. While you're waiting I suggest you avail yourself of the ketchups, all of which are organic. They've got original, and as ND mentioned, garlic and then pineapple-mango. They also have a chipotle ketchup. They're all pretty decent, but the garlic is the clear winner, and it's tough not to put it on everything.

It's pretty easy to eat healthy at Blue Planet (not surprisingly). Their salads double as wraps - or is it vice versa? - and they're tasty. What might be called the one downside to the Santa Fe salad is that there was too much stuff in the bowl to get it properly mixed. Additionally, it was an entirely spinach salad, which I usually find too monotonous but which in this case worked pretty well. as ND mentions, they're not shy about the chicken, and I got a fairly large serving for something on top of a salad. Their dressing selection, if you care beforehand, is Newman's Own.

The edamame side dish was interesting - it comes in-shell, and to be perfectly honest I wasn't certain if one was supposed to eat the shell or not. If you're supposed to be able to, then Blue Planet needs to cook it more, as I found the shells tough and fibrous; this leads me to conclude I was supposed to do what I wound up doing, which was squeezing the beans out of the pods individually, like a legume Push Pop.

I've eaten here maybe a dozen times before, and danced around the menu quite a bit. Their pizzas are good, if you can get one - they have a tendency to sell out of the materials by dinnertime (they may have fixed this, but I don't know for sure) - but the thing I like most on their menu is probably their bowls, which combine a decent amount of food with some good tastes. Definitely better - and better for you - than a trip to Burger King.


  • Asian Style Chicken Burger ($7.99)
  • Orange Kick Smoothe ($4.49)
Their burgers come, by default, with the sun fries. The 'problem' with them really is lack of any seasoning or spicing whatsoever. They just end up very dull to my tastebuds (who just eats potato with no flavor? At least butter or something!). That's why the others went for ketchup, and I'm not a huge ketchup fan. The sweet potato fries, much more flavorful, and probably worth it even though they're a 79 cent substitution on the basic fries (according to the page.)

The burger itself had a very large chicken patty (overlarge, really, for the burger, but you can take care of that with some preemptive eating), and a very good mix of flavors. The wasabi mayo in particular had just a hint of wasabi, that I for one would have liked a little more of. The pineapple and teriyaki and everything worked together extremely well. It's definitely something I'd like to have again. I'm not sure it would work as well with the beef, with all the kinda subtle flavors, due to overpowering flavor on the part of beef. The pineapple also needs, perhaps, to be a bit smaller/some help with sticking, as it and the teriyaki were the two things most likely to leak/slip.

The place advertises their smoothies, so I had to give one a try. The orange kick was pretty simple in description, orange, cream, sugar. And that's exactly how it came down. The orange part was surprisingly sharp, like lemon instead of the nice unobtrusive orange most people are used to. The cream was very noticable (in fact, the only word I could use to describe that flavor/texture note was 'cream') and added an enjoyable lightness. The sugar cut that sharpness down to tolerable levels, I think, was the point. However, we are not talking a huge smoothie here, which makes the price point a bit unfortunate (there are a lot of other generally expensive drink flavors I enjoy at various resturants that are less expensive than this/have more flavor).

The place has a lot of options that seem worth pursuing, and I'd definitely consider it a second and third time. My main curiosity is how well it works for pre-order/takeout, since it has to compete with Gandolfos for me there (they're in the same minimall area), and Gandolfos is no slouch.


-Aditya said...

This place sounds great....Eating healthy might not be for the taste buds...but surely worth giving it a shot!!!
Thanks guys

NinjaDebugger said...

Honestly, this place has plenty for the tastebuds. It's just a different sort of flavor. The cinnamon-dusted sweet potato fries are outstanding, and the orange muffins are only a little overpriced. It just may take a few tries for you to find something you really like.

-Aditya said...

My girlfriend being a vegetarian....we always find it difficult for us to find a place like this where she can customize most of the dishes on the menu for herself ...this one will surely help...cant wait to get there ...will surely let you guys know how it went!!! :) :)

the2foodies said...

I've been there a few times for lunch. I haven't had anything too exciting but nothing completely awful either. Pretty much like every other "almost fast food" place, other than they are suppose to have healthy food. Their hamburgers are dry and have no taste. The taste is all in the condiments. I haven't tried their pizza yet, which I've heard is good.

Chamelaeon said...

I've only had the turkey burger here but it definitely fits with that assessment. As mentioned in the post, most of the times I come here I go for one of the bowls or wraps, which I'd say are tasty enough.