In a completely unscientific way, I polled my friends on Omaha’s lineup of high-end steakhouses before I wrote this review.
Friends with some of the best taste in food were unanimous in complimenting west Omaha’s Mahogany Prime. It’s pricey, they warned (they are right), but they said it’d be worth it.
The World-Herald hasn’t visited Mahogany since just after its opening in 2003. I figured it was high time I made it out to the neighborhood where I grew up to experience it for the first time.
Little seems to have changed at the restaurant since we first wrote about it. It’s still dark and wood-filled, with a masculine ambiance and the martinis and Manhattans to match. The wine list is still huge, with many selections worth trying. The menu focuses heavily on beef — this is the beef state, after all — and from what I tried, the kitchen does red meat very well and never well done.
I tried three steaks over two dinners: the 14-ounce ribeye, the 8-ounce filet and the bone-in filet. All were cooked to perfection, slathered in butter and served on a plate too hot to touch.
The flavor of all three pieces of beef shone through, thanks to plenty of salt and pepper. I probably liked the traditional filet best; it’s historically my favorite cut, and here, it didn’t disappoint, with a tender, juicy texture that I could nearly cut with a fork alone. My friend basically licked the plate after finishing his ribeye; he generally salts his food again after a dish comes out of the kitchen, but here, that wasn’t necessary. Seasoning was spot on.
The bone-in filet we had another night is an absolutely gargantuan piece of meat. Ours had nice flavor, though a few bites were threaded with veiny, tough bits that we pushed to the side.
We ordered all three pieces of beef cooked medium rare, and they arrived just perfect. They should, for the price.
One cannot visit Mahogany without experiencing at least a brief moment of sticker shock.
The bone-in filet is $58.99. The ribeye, $46.99. The 8-ounce filet, $41.99. We never left without spending more than $200, once all was said and done. Certainly these are premium prices, but so goes the new high-end steakhouse, complete with a la carte side dishes sized for sharing. If you’ve been to a Ruth’s Chris, or, locally, to 801 Chophouse, you know what to expect.
The kitchen at Mahogany prepared our beef with skill, and our meat was delivered with efficient, if scripted, service.
Both times, our waiters told us how the prime steaks are cooked, how they’re served on an uber hot plate and, upon their arrival, our servers shone a small pen light on our cuts while we sliced into meat to make sure it was cooked to our liking. If you’ve been to Mahogany, I’m sure that part of your experience was the same as mine — it’s sort of like a play where the star of the show is a piece of beef.
I’d hoped to try some seafood on my second visit, but nothing caught my eye. The menu has salmon and sea bass, and the night I visited, a special red snapper, but none of the presentations appealed to me, and none felt particularly new or modern. So I switched gears last-minute and instead ordered bison filet, which was delicious. Cooked medium rare, it had a clean, grassy taste — it’s the only grass-fed selection on the menu — and a tender bite. I’d order it again, if it were available.
Sides and appetizers pleased across the board.
An order of onion rings, which we got as a starter instead of a side, had plenty of flavor and seasoning, and my onion-ring-loving friend signed off on them: not too greasy, and super crispy, he said.
The “lobster cargot” is the most popular appetizer on the menu, a server told us, and so we tried it. If you ever had one of the M’s Pub baked dishes, this is a lobster version of that very thing. Hunks of seafood in little holes in an escargot dish topped with melted cheese and floating in seasoned oil. I liked it at M’s, and I like it at Mahogany.
Sautéed mushrooms off the sides menu had a meaty texture. Cooked spinach, also on that list, came with a vinegary kick and sliced red onions, all topped with toasted pine nuts.
Roasted Brussels sprouts were tossed with chunks of pork but had a maple-tinged, sweet finish, an unusual choice. And the corn with sweet cream butter is just downright good, a classic taken to the extreme.
On the first night, we ordered the “table side martini,” and though it was very good — balanced, ice cold, extra dirty — it arrived finished instead of shaken at the table, as promised on the menu. Jay Marquiss, the restaurant’s general manager, said it should have been finished table side.
“That’s part of the show,” he said.
I liked my Manhattan a lot; served up, it is, for me, the perfect companion to beef.
Another night we found some lovely wine selections, including a mid-priced bottle of red, around $30. It was one of the more reasonably priced wines; the list includes bottles in the $400 range.
The desserts at Mahogany are great, if huge and decadent. We tried a big slice of carrot cake with a thick cream cheese frosting and a tender crumb, and an off-menu special, a crème brûlée cheesecake. A sort of hybrid of the two classic desserts, it won points for creativity with its crisp exterior and just-cool, dense center.
Mahogany has four locations, and the one in Omaha is the only one outside its home state of Oklahoma.
Marquiss said that after another of his company’s concepts, a southwest-style restaurant called Red Rock Canyon, closed, the company remodeled and reopened as Mahogany. It didn’t take off right away, he said, and it became known for having a “stuffy” atmosphere, something the more recent management has worked hard to dispel.
I had hoped, as a burger lover, that Mahogany might serve a high-end sandwich in its bar, but it doesn’t. The bar and dining room have the same menu. Marquiss said that because the parent company, Hal Smith Restaurant Group, runs many other more casual concepts, including both Omaha locations of Charleston’s, they’ve kept Mahogany more high-end.
Mahogany makes a mean high-end steak. I like its versions of classic steakhouse sides, and I appreciate the creative moments, which appear when least expected.
If it’s payday, or a special occasion, put it on your list and go to town. I’ll give you the same advice my friends gave me: It’ll be worth it.
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