Memoir’s love letter

The threads that weave their way through the Flagship Restaurant Group meld in Memoir, the company’s most recent restaurant concept—a self-professed love letter to the restaurant industry. Tucked into the corner spot of the Mercantile Building in new Omaha development Brickline at the Mercantile, the luxurious yet comfortable spot is already winding its way into guests’ memories.

The dining room is imbued with a sense of nostalgia and comfort, with book nooks lining the walls and warm jewel tones adorning the furnishings. Tantalizing aromas permeate the senses as diners emerge from the busy street, shoulders immediately dropping as they begin to unwind. No detail is too inconsequential—wicker-backed server stations flank the entrance, supporting hammered metal water pitchers and tidy piles of neatly wrapped flatware.

The light-flooded space is anchored by a large central bar beneath a coffered ceiling that mutes conversations to a pleasant hum. Green subway tile surrounds the walls of the open kitchen, providing a reassuring glimpse of the staff milling about in pursuit of culinary excellence. 

Alex Tomes, Executive Chef, is no stranger to Flagship. He shared, “I worked with Flagship when the original Roja location opened. Learning from Tony Gentile (Co-Owner and Chief Culinary Officer) taught me to be a humble leader and teacher, opening my mind to the concept that being a chef was more than cooking good food.” 

Tomes spent time expanding his horizons both in Washington state and the Kansas City area before returning to Omaha as part of the Memoir opening team. “I got into the industry the way you see it in the movies, as far as culture and people hanging out together being friends,” he said. “That’s what kitchens were to me growing up.” That camaraderie drew him to restaurants and ultimately to Roja Mexican Grill where he worked and maintained contact with Flagship during his time away. 

Through experiences that built upon each other, Tomes realized that to understand regional food you must comprehend the derivational history of a culture—why a certain group eats the things they do, paying homage to its roots while executing flavors and technique. He also gained a fresh perspective of the job of a chef, discovering how to motivate large teams while executing someone else’s vision. The executive chef believes in simple hospitality, that small, genuine gestures lead to customer loyalty. 

Tomes was taught that anything you don’t make in house should be sourced locally. To wit, the restaurant serves Le Quartier bread, and the team is anxiously awaiting the growing season, when the opportunity to create connections with farmers will be at its peak. 

Imaginative plating elevates reimagined classics, southwestern flavors, and sushi dishes that pay homage to veteran Flagship concepts such as Roja and Blue Sushi Sake Grill, evoking treasured memories of the past while forging new connections and making new memories. “You can’t leave sushi out of a [Flagship] love letter to the industry, the potsticker dish is a throwback to an original Blue dish,” shared Tomes. “The success of Blue is what has allowed us to open new concepts such as Memoir.”

A classy touch is the green cocktail book lined in plaid fabric provided to diners when seated. The luxe booklet includes a quote from author J. Ryan Stradal and a warm welcome from the hosts. The menu offers craft cocktails (with and without spirits), local beers and ciders, sake, wine by the glass or bottle (including alcohol-free wines from Noughty) spirits, and local Hardy coffee.

Tomes is an ardent fan of the well-curated cocktail menu and finds the entire list well-balanced and palatable. “After trying them, there weren’t any I wouldn’t order,” he explained.

Guests are invited to linger over starters such as the tenderloin beef carpaccio topped with crispy capers and a shower of parmesan, or the inventive, artfully plated yellowtail sashimi, tantalizing tastebuds with a little kick of heat from serrano pepper balanced by a dressing of citrus and white Shoyu. 

Generous salads and sandwich offerings include the kale and farro salad in which hearty greens and grains are tossed with shaved parmesan, sliced almonds, charred grapes, thinly sliced apple, and aged goat cheese and drizzled with a turmeric vinaigrette. Sandwich lovers will relish the Memoir dip au jus with horseradish aioli and fries.

Memoir is open for lunch, dinner, and weekend brunch, and during weekday happy hour from 3-6 pm the eatery offers a 25-percent discount on wine, cocktails, sake, starters, and sushi.

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