Dane Bass wanted a menu as bold as the beer selections at the new Green Flash Brewhouse and Eatery.
Take, for example, the fried tamale from the starters menu. It features chorizo, Monterey Jack cheese, red chili sauce, crema, pickled onion, radish sprouts and cilantro. It’s Bass’ red chili sauce that will make you sit up and take notice. It’s spicy, giving it just the right pop.
“I really wanted bold flavors to stand up to the beer,” Bass said.
Bass is executive chef, coming to run Green Flash’s kitchen after stops at such Lincoln restaurants as bread&cup, HopCat, 9 South CharGrill and Dempsey’s. He joins general manager Jeff Willett and brewmaster Jeff Hanson in getting Green Flash off to a quick start.
The restaurant/taproom opened in June, taking over Ploughshare Brewhouse’s location. Green Flash is a San Diego-based company started in 2002 by Mike Hinkley. Hinkley recently sold the operation after running into some financial difficulty, but has stayed on to run the new company.
Green Flash is part of Lincoln’s still-growing craft beer community. The brewhouse features around a dozen beers made on-site, including a special beer, Gin City Common. Green Flash is teaming up with Allo Communications to showcase the new beer at next week’s Lincoln Calling music festival.
In opening the taproom, Green Flash is taking the extra step, complementing its beer with an original food menu. The menu is small with eight sandwiches, seven appetizers, four salads, three entrees and four “snacks.” But what the menu lacks in selection, it makes up for in taste and originality.
I followed the tamale up with a Southern fried chicken sandwich ($12) with seasoned fries that my wife couldn’t stop snagging from my plate. The sandwich featured a large piece of chicken, which I assume was pan-fried, topped with pickles, pimiento cheese and a tasty aioli on a brioche bun. Other sandwiches include brisket ($12), pastrami ($12) and pork — each with a different, house-made sauce.
My wife went the “lighter” route, ordering pear toast ($6) from the “snacks” part of the menu. She raved about it. It featured a crostini topped with Asian pear, garlic chive and lemon chevre, honey, bee pollen and crushed pistachios.
“I wanted to do something different (with the snacks) than the standard cheese plate,” Bass said. Other snacks include, cucumbers and tomatoes ($6), crispy potatoes ($6) and green beans with a miso-ginger dressing ($6). Not standard at all. Nicely done.
Beer, more so than food, is subjective. We did four tasters ($1.50) before settling on a full-pour ($6). Half-pours ($3) also are available. We really enjoyed the blond ale (4.8 percent ABV) and the alpine Irish red (6 percent ABV). The menu included five Indian pales ales, a wheat ale and a lager. Grade: A
One of the things I loved about Ploughshare, besides its beer, was its atmosphere. It used reclaimed barn wood for its decor to give the place a rustic look. Green Flash has kept the bar and dining room pretty much intact. (There is now a window into the kitchen). What it needs now is something to give it its own identity. The walls behind the bar, for example, are bare except for big-screen TVs. Many of the dining room walls are bare, too. Grade: C+
One of the things I hated about Ploughshare was no table service. You had to wait in line to order food and beer. Kudos to Green Flash for having table service — great table service. Our server, Jase, proved to be one of the better servers we’ve had in awhile. He was knowledgeable of both the beer and food menus, offering suggestions. He kept us up to date on our food status. The turnaround time was a bit slow, considering we came in late and not a lot of other people were eating. On the other hand, Green Flash’s menu dishes take a little time to prepare because they are more elaborate than at your typical bar-and-grill. Grade: B+
Green Flash boasts one to three vegan selections on each part of its menu. The starters, for instance, feature Brussels sprouts ($11) and broccoli ($8). It has a risotto ($14) — with Arborio rice, roasted cremini mushrooms, shiitake puree, parmesan and pea shoots — among the entrees. The salad options include orange and fennel ($12) with a miso-ginger dressing. Green Flash designates vegan options with “v” on the menu. Gluten-free items, however, are not notated. Grade: B