Congratulations to Chef Travis and staff at Dish for topping the list on Jeff’s Top 5 in Friday’s Journal Star. As a restaurant owner, I know how difficult it is to coalesce a team of people for the purpose of creating great food and service, and then to do it consistently day after day, night after night. Travis has a reputation of being a hard working chef/owner, and you have to be in order to survive this business. I only wish I had the opportunity to dine there more often, but he works when I work and is closed when I’m closed.
Jeff listed other places besides his top 5, and maybe you notice it too, but I find it interesting that the list of local, independent restaurants is so short, especially for a town the size of Lincoln. We all have our theories as to why this is so, and could argue a valid point, but the fact remains; Lincoln’s food culture has opportunity to develop.
And opportunity it is. Rather than making lacking comparisons to Portland or Austin or Seattle, I like to focus on what we are, instead of what we are not.
With our heritage as an agricultural state, we’ve been known for growing food for the world. Why not turn that back around and direct it to our own table? In my three short years of having my doors open, the number of local growers with whom I am in contact has at least doubled. Local supply is a high value to me, and I can say that I am sourcing more meat, poultry, eggs, dairy and produce than ever before. It should only keep getting better.
I don’t look at a list like Jeff’s or the restaurants on it as competition. There aren’t enough of us to serve a city of over a quarter of a million people. His list could double this year and there would still be enough people to fill our respective establishments. Thankfully I enjoy a full dining room most weekend nights. Where would I put everyone if I felt like I should be the only one on the list?
Nebraska has plenty of land to grow great food, and Lincoln has more than enough room to grow a few more great, local restaurants.