Calling all Lincolnites! Or is it Lincolneans? Lincolnoans? I don't know. Anyway, citizens of Lincoln, you have a very impressive restaurant amongst your city limits that you must be aware of! Dish, located right on O Street in downtown Lincoln, Nebraska, offers an excellent dining experience with perhaps the best modern cuisine I have ever had in Lincoln.
Now Dish is not a hot and trendy brand-new restaurant that has just opened its doors. It has been on the northeast corner of 11th and O for several years since it changed ownership and received a name change from The Grotto. Despite its terrific food and prime location Dish always seems to fly under the radar. For instance, urbanspoon.com reviewers have Dish just edging out Jimmy John's as Lincoln's 31st best restaurant. I found this laughable! As much as I enjoy a Jimmy John's sub every once in a while it should not be even close to Dish in a restaurant rating. While I realize urbanspoon.com is not a completely accurate reading of the food scene in Lincoln, it is a definite warning sign.
For some reason Lincoln does not seem to embrace fine dining restaurants, judging by the success rate of this type of restaurant in the capital city. First of all Lincoln does not have many places like Dish to choose from. I can easily count the restaurants of this caliber in Lincoln that I am aware of on one hand, despite having lived there for twelve years. And to top it off, some of these places are not in business anymore. While living in the downtown and Haymarket areas I witnessed restaurant after restaurant open and then fold, sometimes in a matter of months. There are certain buildings in the Haymarket (i.e. the old train station) that seem to have an unsatisfiable appetite to devour and destroy the dreams of new restaurant owners. Why doesn't a fine dining restaurant have much of a chance of surviving in Lincoln? I'm sure there are many economic and social factors that contribute to this mysterious problem, but in my opinion Lincoln is big enough to support more than just a couple of fine dining restaurants.
Let us get back to the subject at hand. My experience at Dish was flawless in every way. The atmosphere is cool and clean, which has been nicely updated from what the photos on their website present. The service was impeccable. We were greeted warmly and our server was extremely nice (not in an overpowering way), informative, and prompt. Everyone at my table absolutely loved their food. I highly recommend the mussels for an appetizer and the chili braised pork for an entree. For those of you who are concerned about spending too much, there is no need to worry. The majority of the entrees are under $20 and most of the sandwiches are under $10.
As I enjoyed my meal I kept wondering how this place evaded my attention when I used to live right down the street. Maybe they did not advertise very well. Perhaps their food and service was not very stellar in the past. I am not sure. All of this mystery that surrounds Dish and the fine dining scene in Lincoln really does not matter to me now, because the next time I am in Lincoln and I desire some quality food at a cool establishment; I am suggesting Dish (not Jimmy John's) because I am confident that it will be on the northeast corner of 11th and O in downtown Lincoln for many years to come.
MY RATING (out of 10):