I had a long morning in Omaha so far – with the bus ride over from Des Moines, walking the mile round trip to the 11-Worth Cafe for breakfast [see blog post], then cooling my heels at Howlin' Hounds with an espresso and an Italian soda [see blog post] – before finally checking into my room at the Hilton Garden Inn for a much needed nap.
Waking up from some actual sleep and with breakfast fully settled, I took a celebratory shower, and ventured out to the Old Market. At Upstream Brewing I enjoyed a cute little tester glass of the hoppy Czech Yourself Bohemian Pilsner before settling down with its big brother, the 23 oz'er. Little did I realize I had sat next to a very talkative Freddie Mercury lookalike with a mild case of gigantism.
Afterward I checked out Urban Abbey, a coffee shop/bookstore. This was not a good move. I asked for an iced decaf Americano, but instead was given one blistering hot. Then I was privy to a women's religious circle that had gathered in the middle of the shop, and subjected to music best described as Whatever Happened to Holly Near? If you have any clue to that reference, its probably a good bet you spent a portion of the late 1970s learning how to scissor.
Being in the presence of so many well-adjusted, seeming stable women was unnerving. Likely the consequence of a lifetime of drinking in grimy bars where most of the female patrons were damaged goods. I shoulda went to a gay bar instead.
Having some travel vouchers to use or lose, I arrived at the Amtrak station on Pacific St. about 45 minutes before it opened, hoping to kill some time trainspotting. When the time came though, a simple task of purchasing tickets face-to-face with station agents became a minor clusterfuck, with several failed attempts to add on to my end-of-the-year travel itinerary before they finally got the computer to accept the changes. This night would've been less stressful if not for the busload of seniors, traveling as a group, who had filled the small waiting area where I stood. And not even a GILF amongst them!
My business at the station kept me occupied longer than I had expected, and the kitchens around the Old Market were starting to close for the night. A visit to Zio's was close to closing time and I did not want to haul a cooling carryout pizza back to the hotel. So I ended the evening where I started, at Upstream Brewing for a pleasant, relaxed meal with cocktails.
For starters, a cup of chili did not suck. Topped with cheddar, sour cream, and scallions, it was zippy, meaty, and texturally appealing. The main course of mac and cheese offered a creamy, mouth-coating sauce, with toothy cavatappi pasta, chunks of ham, scallion tops, and a sprinkling of toasted bread crumbs.
The nightcap was a civilized drink – The Barrick – made with Upstream's Flagship IPA, George Dickel rye, sweet vermouth, and slice of orange for garnish. Between Upstream and Benson Brewing [see blog post], Omaha's brewpubs sure know how to craft remarkable beer cocktails. A fine rescue of the evening.