We have a lot to be proud of in Nebraska – but people on the outside don’t always recognize or see it. We spend time convincing our friends on the coasts and abroad how great it is and “No, really, it’s not boring! Seriously! Visit me!” Now we have one more item to tack on the list of why it’s great here in the heart of America: Isa is opening Modern Love today!
When I woke up to the e-mail from Vegan Omaha two weeks ago, telling me there would be a pre-opening tasting at Modern Love, I would’ve been a damn fool not to do it! I grabbed two tickets, my friend Michele, and we went.
The space itself, I think, is pretty special. It’s tucked away around 50th Street and Saddlecreek, and you really need to look for it… until you see the bright fuchsia mural on the side of the building! It has the signature beet-cat logo and, just a guess, this mural might end up being the most Instagram’d pic in Omaha this year. Do we need a hashtag just for the mural? #modernlovebeetcat ? I’m open to suggestions. Anyway, you get inside and it’s just so dang cozy. I know that can mean small, tight, cramped, etc. – but not at Modern Love. You feel like you’re really part of something special. There definitely won’t be a lack of people wanting to eat there, so I’ll be interested to see how the little waiting area works out. It’s right in line with the kitchen door, a.k.a. servers gotta walk there to do their job!
The decor is adorable – really vibrant and simple. The time it took to do the wallpaper-like stenciling all over the walls? I can’t even imagine. And also, who figured out how to fold napkins into hearts? You’re a genius, congratulations. My favorite piece in the design was the embroidered sign in the bathroom.
The food service started with a shot of corn milk with chili oil, lime, and cilantro flowers. Totally refreshing and, dare I say, my favorite part of the night. I appreciate the nod in this course to using the whole veggie – you get corn milk by basically juicing an ear of corn (do not try to put an ear of corn in your juicer) after you get out all of the kernels. I could have eaten a bowl of this stuff. Super bright and fresh. And, as you know, I love using flowers with food.
The seating for this tasting was communal. I can’t get through this review without saying just the tiniest thing about one of our table mates: OH MY GOD, SHE WAS SO EXCITED. So excited to the point that I don’t think she realized things she was doing and saying. She was so stoked to start eating each course, that I couldn’t really get many great photos. Be sure to check Modern Love on Instagram for the best of the best. Click on the image below to see a slideshow of photos I could grab at the tasting.
Here’s a run down of the rest of the courses:
- Farmer’s Hummus: Roasted garlic hummus with overnight tomatoes, roasted radishes, pickled onions (TO DIE FOR), rainbow carrots, cucumber, and olive oil flatbread (Did you guys make this? It was delicious!).
- Jalapeño Corn Fritters: This is in second place for my favorite after the corn milk shooter. The flavors were super bright and fresh – and just the right amount of spice. There was a rich, fresh tomato jam under the fritters. I told my friend I could probably have eaten about ten, as just a really nice bar snack. Maybe mini-fritter bar snacks?!
- Quinoa Caesar: Incidentally, I made Isa’s recipe for this two nights before this dinner. Modern Love’s was better. Tahini caesar dressing, quinoa, roasted pine nuts (my fave part of this salad – so fancy and classy, really heightens the dish), tempeh croutons, eggplant bacon… are you hungry yet?
- Mac & ‘Shews: So much more than meets the name on this one. Cashew cheese on the mac, pecan-crusted tofu (best crust I’ve had on just about anything), BBQ cauliflower, house made potato chips, and braised kale. P.S. It’s gluten-free!
- Seitan Marsala: I’m not a huge fan of seitan, but I loved this. Homemade seitan, root vegetable mash, and a rich marsala gravy. This is what I want to eat when we have 5 feet of snow on the ground.
- Peach Pie & Ginger Ice cream: Super delicious pie. Lots of vanilla bean throughout the filling, awesome coconut & olive oil crust, and creamy ginger ice cream, PLUS pieces of crystallized ginger. Delicious! My only comment on this course: The vanilla was really overpowered by the delicious peaches. I love the commitment to using the vanilla seeds, but the flavor could be used stronger elsewhere – maybe in the whipped cream on the chocolate tart?!
- Rosemary Lemonade: I was SO skeptical of this. But, you guys, it’s really good and doesn’t suck at all! Rosemary can be mega overwhelming, but this was so very pleasant. I savored it throughout four or five courses.
My only criticism: It was tough to share all of this food with our table mates. Not because I wanted it all for us, but because they were really trying to take it all as quickly as possible! We had to be quick!
I am incredibly excited to try Modern Love again when it’s fully open and I can have my plates of food to myself. No sharing next time! It seems like they have a focus on superior service, too, which is lacking around these parts sometimes and is my favorite thing. Literally, what is the dang point of going out for nice food if your service sucks? It ruins the night for me. Another big bonus for Modern Love: They gave me fresh flatware between courses. Literally, I hate having to keep my flatware on the table as courses are switched out. Just bring fresh! This, to me, is a mark of great service.
I have high, high hopes for the future of Modern Love. It’s a fresh approach to dining that I think will reinvigorate dining in Omaha and Lincoln. We will have a high bar to set for all other venues. Bravo to you, Isa, your team of partners, and your dedicated staff! I’m so excited to see the future of your restaurant.