Old Favorites and New Flavor at The Dundee DellOct 01, 2021 01:42PM ● By Kim Reiner
Photo by Bill Sitzmann
The Dundee Dell is back.
It’s not the exact same Dundee Dell that closed in summer 2020 amid the pandemic. The new Dell is rather like an old acquaintance being seen for the first time after months of quarantining. This old friend has made some radical lifestyle changes and looks dramatically different, but things feel vaguely familiar.
What I’m trying to say is, it’s the same name in the same building, but this isn’t the old Dell—I think I’m OK with that.
The Dundee Dell reopened under new ownership in July 2021, and clearly the new owners were fans of the original business, but also ready to move dishes and the atmosphere in a brighter and more stylish direction.
The space has been transformed, with a fresh coat of blue paint, improved lighting and mirrors, and seating that makes it easier to see and be seen. The high-backed booths of the old days are gone. The renovated bar space allows for more seating.
There were groups of old friends greeting each other, couples sipping cocktails, and families wrangling young kids in the dining room when we were there one early weekday evening. I was there with my family, as well. I wish I could say my young dining mates offered helpful feedback on their meals, but they only raved about their root beers.
During the soft opening and the early days after it officially opened, the menu was limited to eight dinner entrees. There were no appetizers, nor was there a kids menu, although I don’t think anyone missed the kids menu (except for my kids). Since we went there, they have added appetizers—including that old favorite, the fried pickles.
The short menu had an Anglophile slant, including a spicy chicken tikka masala, and yes, they kept the fish and chips, as well as the Reuben and Big Easy sandwiches. Since most born-and-raised Omahans have come to associate good fish and chips with the Dundee Dell, it was a smart decision to keep them.
The fried entree is no longer served in a foil-lined paper bag that steams when you tear into it; instead, the crispy fish and thin fries are served tastefully on white plates with a mini Union Jack stabbed into one piece of fish.
Before my daughter could pick off all of the crispy breading, my husband and I split a piece. The flavor of the fish matched my memory. (Though my husband and I debated whether the breading had too much flour or just the right amount.)
If you were a fan of the old “chips,” the french fries that came with the fish and other entrees may disappoint. Some will fight me over this, but the jacket fries of yore that I remember were always a little too thick and soggy. I prefer the new ones.
One of the heartier offerings was the garlicky bangers and mash, which my husband ordered. While he was hungry, I don’t think he was that hungry. The portion of this comfort food was massive, so luckily, I could sample a few bites. The dish consisted of Cumberland bangers, the traditional thick pork sausages you’d find in a British breakfast, piled atop a massive mound of mashed potatoes with a brown gravy.
I ordered the Big Easy, a behemoth sandwich that includes an inch-high stack of pastrami topped with coleslaw and a tangy sauce, served on an onion bun with fries on the side. It’s messy, but the flavor combination is satisfying. It is not an easily shareable sandwich, which worked well in my favor.
Finally, I had a taste of the double cheeseburger made with wagyu beef my son ordered. What elevated the burger was the addition of a garlic aioli. It was delicious and not overpowering. I think my son was expecting the kid’s cheeseburger from the former Dundee Dell, which is to say, a simple one without the extra flavor.
Like the food menu, the drink menu was short during the opening. Along with a few expected wine and beer choices, the bar offered a seasonal mix of craft cocktails. Sweet cocktails on the menu included the Dundee Spritz, which gets its orange hue from the Italian rhubarb bitter Aperol. I liked the nice touch of the sugar-speckled dried strawberry—it was a boozy, gummy garnish.
For the concerned scotch drinkers of Omaha, don’t worry. The Dundee Dell continues in the tradition of its former owners by offering an impressive selection of carefully curated scotches, now served at a specially dedicated bar in the restaurant’s smaller side room.
Visit dundeedell.com for more information.