Cultural Cuisine

“Way of Life”—it’s not just the translated name of Regency’s newest restaurant, Mode de Vie, it’s also the term that encompasses the inspiration behind its concept. More than a traditional French restaurant, Mode de Vie celebrates the integration of France and the many cultures it influenced: Vietnamese, African, Caribbean, and Cajun. By borrowing from these cuisines from around the world, Mode de Vie has created its own interpretation of some of the most popular French-inspired dishes and combined them with a unique champagne bar offering.

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Located across from Garbo’s Hair Salon in Regency, Mode de Vie’s world-eclectic cuisine matches its décor. Designed by Ginger Meadows with GM Designs, the restaurant’s warm mustard-yellow and deep French blue color palate provide a comfortable, inviting setting for both casual and more formal diners. “We wanted it to be Great Gatsby meets mid-century, with a French country feel in both the décor and the food,” Meadows said. She incorporated elements from all of the French cultures represented, such as grass-shade light fixtures, a Mediterranean bar front, and mosaic ceiling tiles.

Corporate Chef Jeff Owens and Executive Chef Sean Phifer took the lead on creating the menu, which was a collaborative process. The idea was to take the best elements of certain dishes and present them in a unique way. For example, instead of traditional French onion soup, Mode de Vie offers a French onion sandwich—veal demi braised onions and melted gruyere cheese on griddled brioche with a side of au jus. Another popular dish is the spring roll salad, which includes five spice shrimp, braised pork, cucumber, rice stick noodles, toasted peanuts, mint, and purple basil with a hoisin vinaigrette dressing. “People love spring rolls, but they typically aren’t an entire meal, so we decided to make them into one,” Phifer said.

He admitted they didn’t know if the dishes would go over well, but he’s been pleasantly surprised by how popular they’ve quickly become. The champagne contemplation plate is another popular item that features pan seared fois gras, bone marrow, pistachio and pork terrine, and chicken liver mousse. It’s enough to serve as a large appetizer, or it can be doubled to serve a party of eight as its own tasting menu. “It’s a way for me to showcase items that aren’t a regular part of the menu,” Phifer said. But his personal favorite? The rum scallops, which are pan seared and deglazed with a pineapple rum, then deglazed again with a spiced kaffir lime sauce.

Ron Samuelson, partner at SamFam Restaurant Group, which owns Mode de Vie, said they’ve wanted to add a French-inspired restaurant for the past eight years, and Regency was the perfect opportunity. Not only was the location within Omaha ideal, but the space itself lent itself perfectly to having a patio and plenty of natural light in the restaurant. “The neighborhood is the perfect mix of families and business professionals, so it appeals to so many people,” he said. “The French food we’re serving is light-hearted and reimagined, not rigid and pricey. We’re elegant, but comfortable.”

The champagne bar adds to Mode de Vie’s elegance, and their plan is to have one of the larger lists of sparkling wines by the glass in the region. Aaron Halbert serves as the restaurant’s sommelier, pairing wines with the diverse menu. “The food is designed with sparkling wine in mind, and we make sure they all compliment each other,” Samuelson said. “The French are known for their culinary abilities and their influence on other cultures, and one unifying factor in that has always been champagne.”

Both Samuelson and Phifer are grateful that what they’re trying to achieve at Mode de Vie is being embraced by customers. They attribute much of that to the fact that people in Omaha like to travel, are educated about wine, and like to try new foods. “We want to offer food you can’t get anywhere else in town,” Phifer said. “We try to develop ideas that push the envelope in slightly different directions. We’ve assembled dishes that are our favorites from many cultures. It’s part of the creativity of our company, and we’re grateful that customers trust us to guide them through the experience.”

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