Fresh Flavors

Classic meets contemporary at the new Village Pointe eatery 402 Eat + Drink. Owned and operated by Janie Rogers, the spot is a welcome addition to the West Omaha dining scene. Rogers is a bundle of smiling energy, running food and drinks, chatting with tables, and ensuring patrons are comfortable and content.

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Located in the former Finish Line sporting goods store, the space is comfortable, bright, and airy. Muted earth tones are offset by the deep blues and greens of the wall color, textiles, and seating. The west wall features a colorful mural by Omaha artist Justin Queal, with nods to the namesake area code and local skyline silhouettes.

When devising the decorating scheme for sister restaurant 712 Eat + Drink, Rogers spent time driving around the Council Bluffs area, taking hundreds of photographs of things that spoke to her that represented the area. The Omaha eatery concept was approached in the same manner but with a broader appeal.

A spacious bar boasts 16 taps, one with prosecco, another with kombucha, and the remaining 14 handles reserved for craft beers. The wine program is yet in its infancy, but the menu highlights several interesting wines by the glass to encourage patrons to try something new.

Since opening, the most popular dining spot is the well-shaded patio, situated along the outdoor mall’s main street. Large pocket doors can be employed to wall off a private dining area, soon to be used for popular beer and wine pairing dinners.

Rogers has been in the industry since high school, starting out at a Council Bluffs Dairy Queen, then pulling double duty bartending nights and spending days working the real estate space. “I just like to work, to provide a hospitable experience and take care of people,” she said.

“Before we opened 712 Eat + Drink in Council Bluffs, I took a step back and homed in on what wasn’t there, a place I’d like to go.” Rogers enjoys healthy, fresh cuisine with interesting flavors and surprising textures and wanted to open a space that would feel appropriate for a business meeting or date night—“elevated but comfortable.”

To help bring her vision to life, she collaborated with Executive Chef Oscar Hernandez. Graduate of a local culinary program, Hernandez spent years honing his chops, working with the lauded chefs of M’s Pub, Pig and Finch, and The Market House, ultimately finding his niche in creating nuanced dishes with fresh ingredients and unique flavor combinations.

Hernandez is passionate about quality ingredients, using local Plum Creek Farms (PCF) chicken and sourcing seafood from local purveyor Jacobsen Fish Company. Mushrooms from Terra Firma Fungi are roasted and tucked into the Shorty Melt, a grilled sandwich elevated by red wine braised short rib, confit onion, and a truffle fondue. Topped with arugula for a peppery bite, the sandwich is served on sourdough and accompanied by golden, crisp French fries.

The PCF airline chicken breast is drizzled with flavorful jus and fanned across a bed of orecchiette tossed in a buttermilk and parmesan béchamel, scattered with fresh green snap peas and garnished with mint. A lighter option is the Crunchy Salad tossed in a light orange vinaigrette made with house vinegar.

Asian flavors shine in many dishes, including the Pork Shoulder Tacos, gochujang braised pork shoulder topped with a quick kimchi slaw of shaved Brussels sprouts on a corn tortilla, drizzled with avocado aioli and topped with green onion and radish.

The Beets Salad is a personal favorite of Rogers, who joked, “I could eat that salad every day!” Baby arugula is tossed in a beet vinaigrette, topped with roasted beets, grilled peaches, white wine poached figs, and finally sprinkled with goat cheese and pistachios.

Since opening her first restaurant in 2004, Rogers has seen trends ebb and flow, but she remains loyal to her original vision. More diners are requesting vegan, vegetarian, and gluten-free offerings, craft beer breweries have grown exponentially, and local produce is even more accessible.

The Korean Stir Fry dish is one of those gluten-free options. Packed with flavor, Hernandez marries lemongrass-marinated shrimp with sweet potato noodle, vegetables, and pickled mushrooms, then finishes with sesame seeds and cashews for textural contrast.

The establishment is open for lunch, dinner, and Sunday brunch. Sustainable practices are important to Rogers, and the team does all it can to encourage the effort through creative solutions. To wit, they crafted a simple syrup from spent coffee grinds for use in an inventive brunch cocktail and recently purchased biodegradable bar straws.

Opening during the pandemic proved challenging, but wearing masks and sanitizing surfaces is a natural extension of the experience Rogers is keen to provide. “We take care of people and strive to support our staff as well as our community.”

The winning combination of classic service and innovative food makes the new West Omaha establishment an exemplary spot for business lunches, date night, casual outings, and celebrations. Take advantage of warm fall days and pop in for lunch on the patio, the team at 402 Eat + Drink look forward to seeing you.

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