V. Mertz is in the Old Market Passageway of Omaha. The space between two close buildings was covered with a roof and V. Mertz came to be 44 years ago on the lower level, as a wedding gift. The location allows the inside rooms to open to the ‘patio tables’ that are in the passageway. There is no dedicated parking – it is either at street meters or paid lots. The interior rooms are fairly dark with brick walls lined with wine bottles and the wall between rooms is filled with lit liquor bottles. The small tables are cloth covered under a low tin ceiling and no music is in the background. They presented us with the a la carte menu but when asked they brought out the tasting menu with optional pairings. Menus change regularly, as both were dated. There is a large wine list and full bar. We chose the tasting and ordered our own wine. The food is fun, creative and tasty – go if you can.
The amuse bouche was a brioche with green garlic pureé, eggplant tapenade, fennel and a nasturtium leaf. This was a substantial amuse bouche with good flavors and lots of textures. A very good start to the meal.
An octopus terrine contained local carrots, nettle emulsion, coconut-habanero sauce and sesame. The octopus had been cooked in a sous vide for 5 hours and was more tender than chewy. The carrots were both shaved and pureéd and very sweet. A rice wine vinegar was mixed with the sesame seeds and pickled shallots as a dressing. This dish contained amazing combinations of flavors and was slightly spicy. It was great and the carrots fabulous.
Black cod was with ginger, English peas, morel mushrooms and mint. The black cod was pan seared and topped with a ginger fluid gel. The mushrooms were seasoned with a ginger butter and topped with edible violet petals. The perfectly cooked fish was great with all the accompanying ingredients – producing lovely flavors and textures. This was an excellent dish, really yummy.
Tomato braised wagyu short rib, charcuterie crumb, ricotta salata and basil were mixed with housemade pappardelle. The charcuterie crumb was some bits of their housemade charcuterie that were fried for the real surprise and wonderful addition to the dish. The tender beef was nice with the perfectly cooked pasta, but the texture was the best part of the dish.
A palate cleanser was an apple-ginger sorbet. It was totally full of flavor. Excellent. I love ginger but the apple here held its own for a perfect combination. Not too cold either, just great to eat.
Success Torte was layers of smoked marcona almond and egg yolk buttercream with a walnut and chocolate sauce. The almonds were mixed with pecans for a lovely nutty bottom layer. The buttercream provided a perfect top pairing with more crunchy stuff on top. The dark chocolate sauce worked great with it for a tasty dessert.
Petits fours included dark chocolate and orange bonbon, lemon poppyseed macaron and white chocolate bonbon. All were sweet, especially the macaron. Pretty, but I was happy with the torte.