The Intoxicologist

Monday, December 3, 2007

Stokes Grill & Bar in the Old Market - Review

While restaurants in Omaha expand at a rate faster than food can be consumed, opening up a new one does not seem like something worth working up an appetite. However, the opening of Stokes Grill & Bar at Howard and 12th Street in the Old Market is a welcome sight. The Old Market is where Omaha is often showcased to visitors from across the nation whether they are of a political, business, or vacationing nature.

A space once occupied by a used, refurbished and miscellaneous knick knacks store is now a polished upscale Southwest grill. Stokes sits on the corner across the street from Delice Bakery and Jobber’s Canyon. This addition to the Old Market not only brings new flavor, but extends the crowd a little further to enjoy more of what the Old Market has to offer.

Stokes Grill & Bar invitation only opening night got off on the right foot with a crowd that was standing room only at times. While the food menu was limited to select items for the night, it was also on the house. Camp Fire Girls were the beneficiaries of all drink purchases.

Opening nights for restaurants are often fraught with obstacles and unforeseen mishaps. Anything gone awry this night was hidden well from the patron. Staffing was at a maximum and everyone wore an eager to please smile.

There is traditional table seating available as well as comfy, low casual style dining near the far side of the bar. Appetizers and full dinner are available at the bar. The wooden bar is deep and flat with no lip on the edge, making it more comfortable for those choosing to dine at the bar.

Stokes Grill & Bar is no exception to the infusion trend these days. They too have several Signature Sangria infusion jars perched in ice on the bar. The cocktail menu claims “this refreshingly cold, fruity wine will set you right with the world.” If the Signature Sangria does not set you right with the world, maybe their award winning wine list will. From Chardonnay to Cabernet - Champagne to Port, Stokes wine list covers the complete wining and dining experience for the beginner to connoisseur.

Stokes carries a full cocktail menu of which the bartenders recommend the specialty margaritas. Maybe there was a good reason. I opted instead for the Metro Martini which is an Absolute Tangerine twist on the Cosmopolitan. While the experience to this point was outstanding, no place is perfect. In my opinion, the Metro Martini tastes a bit like orange Tang; faint color, thin, weak, and low on flavor and depth. Great places usually hire bartenders with knowledge up their sleeve, which is a bonus. Char, one of the fast working bartenders behind the cork Friday night, suggested her particular specialty: the Char-tini. This cocktail had deep color, rich layers of flavor, and was topped with champagne.

The food was equally as delicious. The Sharon’s Chicken Enchilada’s practically bulged from the tortillas and overflowed the plate. These chicken and cheese enchiladas with beans and rice will fill even the heartiest of appetites. The Los Alamos Pasta was exquisite. The sun-dried tomatoes punctuated the chicken and cream sauce perfectly. The food was such that a person could keep eating for the taste alone with hunger never being the issue.

All in all, Stokes Grill & Bar is a hearty restaurant with upbeat employees eager to serve their tasty meals and cocktails. It is a great place to eat dinner, have a drink at the bar, or nosh with friends in the cozier sections next to the bar at a more relaxed pace. Make a special trip to revisit the Old Market to see all that is new.

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