But it's still a steak house - Three Oaks. Before I recount our quasi-delightful dining experience at Three Oaks, I must regale you with the history of Nebraska city - elevation 933 feet, population 7228. 7230 with the Hawthornes. Nebraska City was born in 1857 when three small towns along the Missouri River were consolidated into one. The town began as a trading post and grew into a center for the pioneer and freighting industry as well as a departure point for western exploration and settlement. Unfortunately, this activity attracted a diverse and sometimes conflicting mixture of businessmen, immigrants, explorers, trappers, traders, and riverboat men who frequently settled their disputes in shoot outs and bar room brawls. Nebraska City's population became more civilized as railroads made transportation more sophisticated and the town developed into a shipping center for agricultural products. Transport of another sort, somewhat clandestine, also flourished in the early days - the Underground Railway. Slaves seeking freedom found shelter in this region within underground passageways and caves. Nebraska City is best known for its apple orchards and as the home of an event celebrated nationwide - Arbor Day. I don't know about you, but I don't believe I've ever celebrated Arbor Day. Perhaps I should add this to my ever-growing To Do list. Arbor Day is celebrated the last weekend in April and the festivities include parades, barbecues, and ... get this ... POETRY CONTESTS. Now THAT I wouldn't want to miss. By the way, the internationally celebrated Arbor Day was founded in 1872 by a J. Sterling Morton, a Nebraskan. Now, back to my irregularly scheduled meal. Comfortable interior. And we're the only customers. Here's our menu from Three Oaks:
Our waitress seated us, then disappeared. About 5 minutes later, she came back to take our drink orders. And she disappeared again, for about another 5 minutes. Finally she returned with our drinks. My tea was old. It had been sitting too long. Mr. Hawthorne claimed his Coke was bad. I tried it and it was not good. Before she disappeared again, I made sure to order. Fillet mignon, rare, and salad for me. Fillet mignon, medium rare, and salad for Mr. H. I then asked her for the wine list, which she produced, by pointing to it on the table behind the salt and pepper. OK, so I didn't have my glasses. And she disappeared. Before I could order my wine. Now she knew I wanted wine since I'd asked for the list. And I really wanted a glass before dinner so I could relax a bit after traveling all day. About 10 minutes later, I started calling out, "Excuse me, Ma'am?? Oh Miss??? YOO HOO!!!!" Nothing.
She finally returns with our salads.
Before I'd eaten two bites of salad, our waitress returned with my wine and our steaks. Didn't we just have this conversation not too long ago at Landry's Restaurant in St. Loo? You know - the one about timing the courses. And our waitress vanished again.
My baked potato is wrapped in foil which I do not like. The potato skin is my favorite part of the potato and I like it crispy. I have sour cream in a packet and an emulsion of chemicals in a little tub. This is not satisfactory.
Look at the ingredients in this crap. I wait for our vanishing waitress to reappear. At this point I'm getting ready to go back into the crack den, I mean kitchen, and get some real damn butter myself. Our waitress finally comes out to tend to something else and I holler to get her attention. She sidles over to the table and I ask her if she has butter. She points to my little crock of chemicals and says, "You got butter right there." "No. This is not butter. There's nothing in here that's come from a cow. There is no dairy. This is all chemicals. Do you have any real butter, please?" "Yeah, we got some apple butter. You want that?" Who the hell puts apple butter on a baked potato? I let that go. "No apple butter. Real butter, please." "OK." She came back with a crock of butter that was frozen solid. Then I threw her for a loop. "It said on the menu that rolls were included. Could you please bring us some rolls?" Waitress is becoming visibly unsettled. I'm rattling her cage and she doesn't like it. She returns with a roll for each of us.
Now for the good. My steak was tender and rare and flavorful. Thank God, she had nothing to do with cooking.
The watermelon was sweet and palate-cleansing. I didn't understand the kale leaf. Maybe that was supposed to be my green veggie.
We finish our meal and guess what. Our waitress is non-existent. We finally get the check after much clanking of empty glasses and clinking of forks and knives onto our plates and clearing of throats. Our splurge today was $58 + tip. We paid more for our meal than what the Comfort Inn is going to cost tonight. But we wanted that red meat.