Wednesday, April 4, 2012

J. Coco

5203 Leavenworth Street
Omaha, NE 68106
Open weekdays 11am-2pm, Mon thru Sat 5pm-close, closed Sundays
J. Coco on Urbanspoon

Wagyu beef burger, white cheddar, pretzel bun ($11)--
The most pleasurable jaw dislocation of your life

New restaurants are going to feel a little sterile. They need time, at least to acquire a few creepy old regulars. At lunch last week in this spankin' new establishment, no one knew quite what to expect, and from what I could tell, the servers didn't either. A few confusing moments regarding a bread refill and my entree order can be excused for now, though. Sure, the food took an exorbitant amount of time, but I'd be surprised if they didn't get that worked out within a few weeks.

The menu is "American," but more like what would happen if there was a cook-off on 19th century Ellis Island, since it pulls from several distinct cuisines but doesn't really attempt to fuse much. The closest thing to fusion would be the Korean Style Short Rib Tacos -- a dish that's oh-so-popular on the streets of L.A. The pulled meat was plentiful and tender, but the kimchee was far less pungent than some. In fact, a dip into the bold sweet chile sauce totally masked the subtle fermented cabbage flavor. Dip at your own risk.

Korean Style Short Rib Tacos ($11)--
Big trends, little tasty tacos

It just wouldn't be a restaurant in the 2010s without a burger on the menu, now would it? As much as I love the idea of a fried egg on my burg, I urge you to minimize the add ons, so as to experience the full flavor and texture of the exquisite Wagyu beef patty. I love trendy stuff as much as the next guy, but fans of authentic "pommes frites" will be disappointed by the herb-sprinked shoestring fries. Though they are tastier than the stragglers at the bottom of the McDonald's bag, they are nothing like the thick-cut and crispy potato dish indigenous to Western Europe.

Burger pre-assembly, and the "pommes frites"

Greek Style salad ($9)--
Missing the advertised heirloom tomatoes and meyer lemon.
Bitter arugula and creamy vinaigrette still a fantastic combo.

The interior, with its modern contemporary and quasi-edgy feel, might be better suited for western West Omaha, and thus it will be a challenge to feel very hip sipping on one of their ultra-hip craft cocktails at the bar. But like many others, I live within walking distance, and I look forward to more meals here. Once they get a little more comfortable in their space, we should expect more daring and creative dishes from Jennifer Coco and friends.

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