With basketball’s March Madness upon us, it seems fitting to feature a sports bar, especially one that’s undergone a facelift of sorts.
Since taking over a year ago, Jason Von Kaenel has worked hard to make Legends Bar and Grill a viable dining destination again.
The sports bar -- as several readers let me know via email -- suffered through some tough times since opening in July 2003, with complaints about poor food and even worse service.
“It’s had a unique history,” Von Kaenel said. “Let’s be honest. If it had been a well-oiled running machine, I wouldn’t have had an opportunity to (buy) it.”
The first thing Von Kaenel did was revamp the kitchen staff and equipment and upgrade the menu. The bar revisits its menu every three months and recently released a new one.
You will find typical sports bar fare, such as chicken strips, fish and chips and Philly and Reuben sandwiches.
But the menu also boasts some unique entrees, including the Angry Hawaiian, a burger topped with grilled pineapple, sliced jalapenos and a jalapeno remoulade, and fish tacos, a Von Kaenel recipe featuring two soft corn tortillas stuffed with beer-battered cod, cabbage slaw and the jalapeno remoulade.
Von Kaenel also spent some money on the interior, most noticeably in replacing the bar’s 27-inch box TVs with multiple HDTVs. Legends also has what Von Kaenel believes is the biggest Golden Tee game in Nebraska, with a 55-inch HD LCD.
The food is better than it has been, although I miss the pot roast sandwich Legends had on the menu when it first opened.
On our visit, my wife and I started with stuffed pepperoncini bites as an appetizer. These are bite-sized breaded peppers stuffed with Italian sausage and mozzarella cheese. They are tasty dipped in a chipotle sauce, but expensive. We received just eight of them for $7.
For entrees, I had the Porker’s Revenge burger ($8), based on Von Kaenel’s recommendation in an earlier email. My wife went with the touted fish tacos ($8).
I would order the burger again, but I'd ask for extra sauce because it was a tad dry. The burger featured pulled pork atop a beef patty with a choice of original, honey mustard or spicy barbecue sauce.
Burgers, sandwiches and wraps come with a choice of a side: long-cut fries, waffle fries, onion rings, salad, steamed veggies or sweet potato fries (for $1 extra). I had the waffle fries, which were overcooked to crunchy. That may have been because of a fryer issue (see below).
The fish tacos are a must-try. The mix of cabbage slaw and jalapeno remoulade gives the breaded fish a nice kick. They are served with grilled limes and chips and salsa on the side. Grade: B+
We visited the restaurant on a slow, Monday night, with “slow” being the key word here. This was the second time in six weeks I’ve had a rough go with service at a restaurant.
In this case, our server told us one of two fryers was not working and that our order would be delayed. She guessed it would be 15 to 20 minutes before our main entrees would be out. It was 23 minutes.
Our appetizer, however, arrived shortly after she told us about the problem. And, to her credit, she kept us apprised of the kitchen situation during the 23-minute wait.
When I asked Von Kaenel about it the next day, he was unaware of a fryer problem, so maybe that was our server’s way to cover for the kitchen falling behind. He said he would look into it. Grade: C-
The sports bar features three distinct areas -- a large dining room, a billiards room and a large patio, which always has been one of the better spots in town for outdoor dining because of its size and shade.
The dining room offers booth and table seating. The bar also has other games to go along with the massive Golden Tee and pool tables. Keno is a recent addition.
The carpet has seen better days and the table and chairs are showing some wear and tear. Grade: B
Vegetarians will need to go the appetizer route. The menu lists no vegetarian sandwiches, wraps or entrees. Appetizers include mozzarella sticks, jalapeno poppers, chili-dusted onion rings, pepper jack mac bites and Bavarian pretzel sticks. Nachos and quesadillas can be made without meat. Grade: D+