No restaurant, apparently, holds the copyright to the “Legends” name.
So when the Legends Patio Grill & Bar opened in November in the Haymarket, I fielded a fair share of queries wondering if this was connected to the one that operated near 84th and Holdrege streets.
No, it’s not.
Nor is it related to the one Ron Tegtmeier opened in his Clatonia hometown, although Tegtmeier purchased the “Legends” sign that was at the Holdrege Street restaurant.
The new Legends in Lincoln is owned and operated by brothers Nick and Jamie Saldi, who also run a Legends in northwest Omaha and are building another in Omaha.
They bought the full-service Flatwater Bistro at 801 R St. in October and turned it into a sports bar, which, given its location to Pinnacle Bank Arena, Memorial Stadium and Haymarket, makes sense.
But the Saldis will face a challenge. The Haymarket and nearby Railyard are filled with numerous restaurants targeting sports fans.
“We’ll do what we always do and do it well,” Nick Saldi said of the competition.
Legend’s menu is typical sports bar fare, consisting of appetizers, burgers, sandwiches and salads. Nick Saldi listed the wings, burgers and Philly sandwiches as the top three sellers, respectively.
Sadly, it’s typical sports bar fare with so-so execution.
My Philly sandwich ($9.99), for instance, brimmed with chopped steak, but the meat was flavorless, and the sauteed onions, green peppers and mushrooms were undercooked. The green peppers were crunchy and not really cooked at all.
The Reuben ($9.99), too, was substantial, but it was made with thin deli-sliced corned beef instead corned beef cooked on site.
We liked having crispy Tater Tots as a choice for a side, but didn’t like having to pay 99 cents more for them. Onion rings, buffalo chips, onion rings and dinner salads also costed more. The dinner salad upgrade was $2.99.
We enjoyed the Bavarian pretzel that came with cheese and honey mustard dipping sauces as an appetizer, but it was overpriced at $6.99. Most prices, however, were reasonable, with burgers and sandwiches costing between $7 and $10.
We also liked the soup -- on Sunday it was French onion -- a nice vegetarian alternative to the meaty chili on the menu. It, too, was fairly priced at $3.99 for a cup and $5.99 for a bowl.
The trouble was nothing on the menu really stood out -- nothing for Legends to differentiate itself from the other Haymarket sports bars. And this was a bit unsettling -- as we left, two Toppers pizzas arrived for the people sitting at the bar. Legends’ menu also includes pizza. Grade: C
I’m sure one of things about the Flatwater Bistro that appealed to the Saldis -- outside of the location -- was its setup. Big windowed doors open out to a large dock, which, as I noted earlier this year, is one of the top five for outdoor dining. It overlooks the busy Haymarket and is just a perfect place to be on game day.
The dining room and large bar bar look contemporary, with dark-colored booths and chairs, basic colors (red, yellow, black, etc.) and carpeted floors to help absorb sound. Wall decor is sparse, with just a handful of signed Nebraska jerseys -- we sat in a booth beneath Tommie Frazier’s No. 15. The look is clean and simple and not overwhelming. Grade: B+
We dined on a Sunday evening, hours after the Nebraska-Northwestern men’s basketball game had concluded. It wasn’t busy. Outside of some people sitting and drinking at the bar, we were the only customers, although a four-top arrived just before we left. Needless to say, our service was good.
Our server, Peter, was attentive and, when we asked for suggestions, he pushed the staples on the menu: wings, burgers and sandwiches. The turn-around time from the kitchen was speedy, with our hot pretzel appetizer arriving shortly after ordering and our entrees coming about 10 minutes later. Grade: A
Choices for vegetarians are minimal. Outside of appetizers (fried ravioli, quesadilla, nachos, etc.), the only menu items are a veggie pizza ($12.99) and homemade macaroni and cheese ($9.99), which you will have to request without the bacon pieces topping it. The menu makes no mention of gluten-free offerings. Grade: D