The idea of homemade Pop-Tarts had me excited before Over Easy, a new west Omaha breakfast place, even opened.
When I finally got my hands on one a few months later, it was totally worth the wait. It has a tangy filling made from citrusy clementines inside a hot, flaky pastry with a drizzle of warm glaze.
The creativity of those pastries shows in spurts throughout the restaurant's brunch-focused menu. If they can bring that originality more consistently and improve the quality of some ingredients, the place can be an even bigger hit.
Owner Nick Bartholomew, an Omaha native and Millard West High School graduate, said he initially looked at opening his restaurant in one of the trendier neighborhoods in town, like midtown, downtown or Benson. But he seems happy to be at 168th and Q Streets.
“We have seen exuberance from the people who live in the neighborhood,” Bartholomew said. “We wanted the restaurant to be a new play on an old way to do something.”
Over Easy falls in between the higher-end brunch spot — think Dixie Quicks — and a diner. The east wall of the restaurant is covered by multicolored barn wood while the west side has a more old school bar feel with stools. The space is airy, modern and welcoming, and it's bustling with diners, especially on the weekends.
The potato hash rounds stood out on one Sunday morning visit. A delicious mash-up of a plate of cheesy hash browns and classic fried hush puppies, they had a creamy, bacony interior and crisp fried, salty exterior. They define the diner-meets-high-end idea to a tee.
The two other dishes we tried were good, but one thing in both seemed off: shredded yellow cheese.
It covered the top of a baked egg boat, which was a dish Bartholomew said chef Tim Maides originally designed just for the restaurant's drive-thru window. But it proved so popular, they now serve it inside, too. We liked its crusty bread bottom, which comes from local bakery Le Quartier, and savory flavor, but the cheese and lack of spice made it basic instead of memorable. It got points for drive-thru friendliness, though: It's easy to devour sans silverware.
A huge slice of sausage and spinach strata also came covered with yellow melted cheese, and though I liked its bread-pudding like interior and hunks of spicy sausage made with T.D. Niche Pork, a stronger, better cheese would have elevated the dish. I would also have taken a slice half the size served with some lightly dressed greens or fruit for balance, even if it cost a little more.
Bartholomew said the restaurant focused on the bread and meat before the cheese, but it will eventually be replaced.
Over Easy has three smoothie choices, and our favorite was the Green Machine. It includes kale, spinach, pineapple, banana and lemon sherbet and read more sweet and tangy than vegetal.
The restaurant's version of a standard breakfast sandwich — egg, cheese and sausage — was just that, standard. It had more yellow cheese and had bread that was tasty but not strong enough to stand up to the heavy interior, which led to a soggy sandwich.
The Farmer Sandwich on the lunch menu stood in contrast to the egg and cheese. It's a straightforward but creative combination of roasted turkey, salami, Swiss cheese and Dijon mustard on a Le Quartier ciabatta. Everything about it worked: shredded warm turkey next to hard, cool salami; melted cheese next to spicy mustard and bread that while substantial had just the right texture. With seasoned rosemary fries and homemade balsamic ketchup, it was my favorite of the dishes we tried.
The home cooked creativity already on the menu at Over Easy proves that Maides is more than capable, and his plays on hash browns and Pop-Tarts are worth trying. The Farmer Sandwich is another good sign, and Bartholomew said eventually the chef will prepare off-menu specials, which I look forward to sampling.
I want more of that creativity and more of the local focus — the restaurant works with Le Quartier, T.D. Niche, Blooms Organics and Honey Creek Creamery. With just a few tweaks, Over Easy can easily deliver on both.
In the meantime, there's always its take on Pop-Tarts.
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16859 Q St. • 402-934-2929 • overeasyomaha.com
Hours: 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m., Tuesday-Sunday, closed Monday.
Hit: The potato hash rounds are like a hash brown and hush puppy mash-up, with a creamy, cheesy inside and crisp, fried exterior.
Miss: An overly simple egg and sausage breakfast sandwich needed sturdier bread. Ours got soggy fast.
Reservations: None taken. The restaurant is crowded on weekends, and you may encounter a few minutes' wait. We didn't wait longer than 10 minutes for a seat during brunch.
Price: Reasonable. Didn't see anything that cost more than $10.
Service: Friendly and helpful.
Noise: The restaurant is lively but not unreasonable.