Pink Poodle Steakhouse
633 Old Lincoln Hwy, Crescent, IA
Fare: Prime rib, fried chicken, steak
Cost: $54 for one drink, two appetizers and two meals
Greetings, Eaters and Readers!
On a random, lovely-weather Saturday in early February (yes – we’re a little behind – let’s move on…), Jaclyn and I had already decided to have a productive day doing…things. After a morning of trying to check off a movie from our ‘must-watch’ list, I told her I’d finally thought of my February pick for the blog. To keep things exciting for the day, I’d be back to pick her up but wouldn’t tell her where we were going.
Ever available for last-minute inspiration, I could see a lot of people talking about The Pink Poodle in the Omaha Food Lovers Facebook group. Remembering that I heard about it many times before, I thought it was a good time to take the lovely little drive out of the city and see what the buzz was all about. We knew it was the Saturday before Valentine’s Day, so every restaurant would, most likely, be quite busy. We hoped getting out of Omaha would help our chances of getting in and out without much of a wait.
Situated on the busy main road in Crescent, The Pink Poodle’s parking lot was already full when we pulled up around 5 p.m. They opened at 4:30 and, as we found out, their reservation list was long and full for the entire evening. While we didn’t have a reservation ourselves, the host was still able to sit us immediately, at one of the only tables that did not have a RESERVED placard placed on top. Our server was quite busy, working multiple spots throughout the HUGE area. (The open concept building and its vaulted ceiling gave us big “this used to be a church” vibes.) Despite being busy, she quickly brought water to the table, took our drink orders and within a few minutes, brought out the warm loaf of bread to start our meal.
Despite visiting the website ahead of time and reviewing a full menu, a limited paper menu was waiting for us at the table. We’re not sure if this was because of supply chain limitations or because of a busy Valentine’s Day weekend where they wanted to be able to keep up with orders. For all parts of the meal – appetizers to main course – we only had a few options for each. You could pick from prime rib, chicken, steaks and seafood. It mostly came down to what kind of cut you wanted (steak) or how many pieces and which type of chicken you wanted (white/dark). And while there were still a good number of options under each category, we were somewhat expecting your typical hamburger, sandwich, salad options. Jaclyn was excited to see a medley of fried mushrooms and that’s where our evening started.
Hand Battered Mushroom Medley ($9.95)
Wow – look at that giant plate of mushrooms. While I may not have been as jazzed about these, Jaclyn sure was. Having never seen a farm fresh medley on a menu before, she enjoyed the different textures and flavors of each mushroom. They came with cheese, but she thought they were better complimented by the ranch she requested. Jaclyn only wishes she had an air fryer so she could’ve taken the rest home for a nice reheat. I tried exactly one (small) mushroom and can confirm – I still don’t enjoy mushrooms, no matter how crispy and fried they may be.
Fried Sausage Ravioli ($7.25)
For my appetizer, I stuck to something familiar and safe for my palate: fried sausage ravioli. Unfortunately, they were too overdone to really enjoy. Think: so crispy and hard the corners kind of hurt your mouth. I also think my raviolis may have been done ahead of Jaclyn’s fresh cut/fried mushrooms – and it was obvious. If they could prepare these in a way that the breading didn’t cut and assault my mouth like a street hooligan – they could be quite good. My evening was off to an underwhelming start.
Unbeknownst to us, our meals each came with a bowl of ham and bean soup. While I’m not a fan of beans, I did enjoy the ham and the broth. Jaclyn happily slurped up a few spoonfuls, but left most of it behind for her upcoming plate of fried chicken. We both hate feeling and being wasteful. If we were given the option, we both would have passed on the soup, but our busy server only had time to set it on the table as she quickly moved on to the next. There was no time to protest.
2 PC Dark Fried Chicken with French Fries ($12.25)
4 PC White Fried Chicken with Baked Potato ($14.95)
We know the Pink Poodle is known for their steak and prime rib. Perhaps in retrospect, one of us should have given it a shot. But the current market pricing and dollar signs got the best of us, and we both turned our attention to the fried chicken.
As we waited for our food, I watched our server and the other tables. There was a wait for everybody, but it wasn’t the kind of wait that was too long or anger inducing. It was the “this food is being made fresh” wait. And that always buys a restaurant extra patience from me. I could see hot, fresh chicken and baked potatoes hitting almost every table around us – so I felt good about our choice. I opted for the 4 piece platter thinking, if this chicken is as fresh and delicious as I hoped it was, I was going to want to air fry my leftovers on Sunday.
The chicken pieces were particularly generous in size, and they were absolutely fresh and hot straight out of the kitchen. The baked potato was a little underwhelming – I would have liked the option to add shredded cheese or bacon bits, but it was piping hot so I won’t complain too much. I gladly enjoyed one huge chicken breast and boxed the other three pieces for home.
I asked Jaclyn how her pieces of dark meat were. She shrugged her shoulders, “It’s fine, I suppose. The breading at Popeye’s is better, though.”
You might say our sideways rating is our own fault because we didn’t get their famed prime rib. And we might agree. Maybe. After 65+ years in the business, we know Pink Poodle is a small-town staple to many for a reason. But for us, albeit not terrible – it just didn’t hit the mark. We couldn’t help but think there are dozens of places right here in our fair Omaha/Bellevue/surrounding burbs where we could easily enjoy equally (more?) delicious steak and fried chicken. But we respect what this restaurant means to Crescent and the neighboring towns, and country-dwelling citizens. They probably could not care less if us city folk come back again. And while we wouldn’t stop you from going, we can’t be sure we’d tag along.
The Good Bite Gals