By Ashley Strehle Hartman/World-Herald Correspondent
Published in the Omaha World-Herald, February 22, 2018
Stirnella Bar and Kitchen
Where: 3814 Farnam St.
Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday to Thursday; 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Friday to Saturday; Noon to 9 p.m. Sunday
Information: 402-932-0444 or stirnella.com
Most of the time, I lean toward sports bars. But, every once in a while, I want something decidedly more sophisticated.
At times like this, I want Stirnella Bar & Kitchen, an upscale gastropub in Blackstone that serves food and drinks that are sure to impress.
I visited Stirnella during happy hour, which runs every day from 2 to 6 p.m. During happy hour, cans of Nebraska craft beers such as Brickway’s Coffee Vanilla Stout are $3.50. Stirnella’s happy hour menu also has more than a dozen wines available for $6 to $7, as well as mimosas and Bloody Marys for $5.
I tried one of the three craft cocktails on Stirnella’s happy hour menu — the Rosemary Greyhound. It comes with Tito’s vodka, grapefruit juice, rosemary and turbinado syrup for $7. It was complex, but well-balanced so that the flavors of rosemary and grapefruit coexisted, but didn’t overpower each other. In short, it was a good fancy cocktail.
On Stirnella’s full drink menu, there are eight craft cocktails for $10. They include classics like a Tom Collins and a Meadowlark Mule — their take on the Moscow Mule.
They also have two craft cocktails that are tailor-made for cold, snowy nights. Their Spiked Cider, made with Cut Spike rum, apple cider, cinnamon and maple turbinado syrup, is served warm. Stirnella’s Bourbon Maple Smash isn’t served hot, but because it’s made with Brickway Bourbon, clove, orange and maple turbinado syrup, it’s still a perfect winter-weather cocktail.
If you want to skip the cocktails and go for beer, Stirnella has you covered. They have about a dozen Nebraska crafts on tap and 14 available by bottle or can. Stirnella also has about 20 other beers, including standard domestics and imports.
Stirnella has approximately 50 wines on its menu, including tap wines and wines available by bottle or glass. They also have a large selection of liquors available in two-ounce pours.
Stirnella’s offerings don’t stop there. Though “kitchen” takes second billing in Stirnella’s name, the food isn’t an afterthought. Stirnella uses local ingredients with a global twist. That means even the starters on Stirnella’s happy hour menu are special. This is a foodie’s menu. There are no chicken wings and nachos here.
My drinking buddy and I tried three food items from the happy hour starter list — popcorn chicken, crispy potatoes and the pork belly slider, which were $9, $7 and $5, respectively. All were good, but the pork belly slider, in particular, stood out. My drinking buddy said it was one of the best things she’s ever eaten.
And food and drink aren’t the only highlights at Stirnella. The atmosphere manages to be both sophisticated and laid-back at the same time, no easy feat. Plus, the communal seating at large tables and booths makes for a friendly atmosphere.
All told, Stirnella is an ideal place to enjoy good drinks, good food and good conversation. I’ll be back again (and again and again).