The State of Nebraska is not a major tourist destination at the moment. Nor is it a place you much associate with fine dining, hip foodie trends, or statist economic development schemes. But there is a Nebraska Tourism Commission and in an exciting press release exclusively (well, probably not; full text below the fold) obtained by Slate they're trying to promote the state as "the perfect place for a culinary adventure."
The farm-to-table dining trend has, thus far, mainly served as a way to promote the financial prospects of agricultural regions situated near America's major clusters of yuppies. But the bulk of farm output continues to come from the great middle of the country, far from the foodie trends. Visit Nebraska's basic pitch is that if you want the real farm-to-table experience you need to come where the farms are. For example, "Jack&June in Lincoln’s Canopy Street, which embodies the heart and soul of Nebraska with traditional dishes with local ingredients." Or else "Kahill’s Steak, Fish & Chophouse in Sioux City" which "has some pretty amazing gourmet dishes" including an award-winning Farm to Table Wagyu Burger. There's also The Black Crow in Beatrice which "offers a great selection of local beef with a wine list to perfectly match the tone of this gourmet yet grounded establishment." Even better, it's conveniently located "only a 40 minute drive from Lincoln," which actually sounds pretty far away to me.
All that said, the real issue seems to me to be that Nebraska needs to lean into this effort a bit more aggressively. Are these restaurants really so great? Slate readers want to know. The last thing out of touch coastal elitists heard about the Nebraska dining scene was A.G. Sulzberger's January 2012 article quoting native-Nebraskan and current-Brooklynite David Rosen: "Being a vegetarian in Nebraska is like being a Republican in Brooklyn — less of an outcast than a novelty." But who cares what vegetarians think? The needs to orchestrate a Nebraska Restaurant Junket for meat-eating coastal journalists such as your humble blogger.
Full release follows:
LINCOLN, Neb. (November 15, 2013)—Nebraska is known for its agricultural production, but our agricultural heritage also makes Nebraska the perfect place for a clinary adventure. Here are some highlights of fine dining in Nebraska that come straight from the farm.
New to the restaurant scene is Jack&June in Lincoln’s Canopy Street, which embodies the heart and soul of Nebraska with traditional dishes with local ingredients. Execute chef Kevin Shinn commented “The restaurant is named after my parents: two people that reflected the values so endearing to me. The menu is an effort to reach back to an earlier day, where food was made by hand, with simple ingredients, from recipes passed down from generations prior. It’s simple food that reflects and celebrates our Midwestern heritage, possibly leading you to tell a story that starts with, ‘I remember…’”
For more farm-fresh dining, Kahill’s Steak, Fish & Chophouse in Sioux City has some pretty amazing gourmet dishes. The pinnacle of Kahill’s menu is the award-winning Farm to Table Wagyu Burger with Nebraska’s own morgan ranch wagyu, house brioche, matchstick fries, veal demi-glance, gruyere, seared pork belly, farm-fresh duck egg and house béarnaise.
The Grey Plume in Omaha focuses on seasonally driven contemporary American cuisine with an emphasis on locally grown produce and livestock. Although the menu is continually evolving and changing, the Grey Plume does offer a variety of in-house items like roasted coffee, handmade pastas, butter and artisan breads.
Only a 40 minute drive from Lincoln, The Black Crow in Beatrice offers a great selection of local beef with a wine list to perfectly match the tone of this gourmet yet grounded establishment. Try the Filet of Beef served A La Crow with cloves and roasted garlic.
Nebraska Tourism Director Kathy McKillip said, “The farm-to-table movement is a trend in the restaurant industry that has been growing. Here in Nebraska, we’ve been doing it forever. So many Nebraska restaurants are using local ingredients to make exquisite dishes, which is why we’re starting to be known as a ‘farm foodie’ paradise.”
Over the past year, the Nebraska Tourism Commission has been showing journalists the wonders of Nebraska cuisine with media tours that result in stories in national food publications like Saveur. The upcoming media tour in December will feature a culinary tract to showcase Nebraskan cuisine to food writers from across the nation.
For more information about travel, events and unique destinations in Nebraska, order your free travel guide today at www.VisitNebraska.com. Then stay connected with Nebraska Tourism on our Visit Nebraska Facebook page, on Twitter, on Pinterest and on YouTube.
The mission of the Nebraska Tourism Commission is to expand Nebraska’s dynamic and diverse travel industry making it more viable by creating awareness, attracting increased visitors which results in greater tourism revenue and economic gain throughout the state. To learn more, go to www.VisitNebraska.com.