The Rise of Omaha Fine Dining

April 17, 2019

As a serious foodie who resides in Omaha, NE—sympathetic friends might say I have been trapped here—I often travel to NYC, San Francisco, Chicago, and Washington, DC to dine. Compared to those four cities with their diverse abundance of ethnic and Michelin-rated fine dining, Omaha cannot compete foodwise. Sure, my current city has a few culinary gems:  Block 16 for incomparably fantastic fried chicken (it’s fucking sublime, actually!); Blue & Fly for very respectable Sichuan cuisine; Via Farina for lovely wood-fired pizzas; El Basha for casual though delicious Middle Eastern fare; and Birrieria El Chalán for amazing tacos reminiscent of the famed street food in Mexico City. But proper tasting menus worthy of traveling foodies from out of state? Not a chance. However, that was before a friend told me about a pop-up named kanō (pronounced kay-no).

Kane Adkisson is a chef with a pedigree well earned in some prestigious kitchens. He has put in time at The Boiler Room, one of Omaha’s top-rated fine-dining restaurants. He has also worked at Maaemo (3 Michelin stars) in Oslo, Norway and at Saison (3 Michelin stars) and Coi (2 Michelin stars), both located in San Francisco, CA. While he has cooked from one coast to another, within the US and across oceans, he has chosen Omaha, both his birthplace and the city that reared him, to refine and grow his tasting-menu-only dinner concept. As the owner of kanō, Chef Kane is assisted by his two sous chefs, Kye Adkisson and Collin Adkisson. Yes, the three are related; they are brothers. The trio’s parents, Ruth and Brent, are also part of this family-run operation. Ruth acts as the hostess, greeting new and returning customers with delight as they come through the door. Brent checks on details during dinner to ensure guests are having a great time. He also thanks them for coming in when they depart. Thus, the food and service at kanō are an amalgamation of innovative ideas culled from multiple personalities and professional experiences which also draws from personal memories and traditions bound by familial ties.

I have attended two kanō dinners now, and I can honestly attest to the fine cooking exhibited there. You have seasonally local produce and luxury ingredients used. You have a mix of classical and modern techniques employed. You have creative yet thoughtful flavor combinations derived from international influences. In short, you have nothing less than world-class dining where the cuisine is as visually aesthetic as it is delicious to eat.

Omaha is very fortunate to have a chef of Kane Adkisson’s caliber. He is demonstrating the kind of fine dining this city can offer locals and visitors. In turn, I hope business investors and foodies here can rise to the challenge by continuing to support him, so kanō can find a permanent home in the near future. (Chef Kane is currently searching for the proper venue.) Now, more than ever, the time has arrived for Omaha to become a culinary destination-worthy city.

Note: Available reservations for kanō can be found here.

The February Meal Highlighting Winter Produce

Course 1: White sturgeon caviar and Dungeness crab sat on top of an ethereally soft custard, a duo of components from the sea adding deliciously briny notes, and each bite was punctuated by the richness of the sabayon. This course was reminiscent of the best chawanmushi and an instant favorite of mine and my dining partner that evening.

warm crab custard with champagne sabayon and chive

Course 2: A seemingly dull vegetable was transformed into delicious tender cylinders. The kohlrabi was paired with poached turnip, swimming in brown butter, and surrounded by an emulsion of tarragon. The MVP of this dish though was the thin circles of Comté cheese. The combination of kohlrabi and Comté transfixed my tastebuds.

winter kohlrabi with tarragon and Comté cheese

Course 3: This dish was the perfect embodiment of “ugly delicious”, a phrase coined by renown Chef David Chang. Give me a whole bowl, please!

Course 4:  The meat dish was delicious A5 Miyazaki beef with sunchokes, grilled kale, and a salsa verde. It was accompanied by grilled dinner rolls with the airiest butter.

Course 5: Milky, creamy, peanut-buttery goodness! This was so great, I polished it off in seconds. If only seconds were available.

Archetype coffee ice cream with parsnip and peanut brittle

Course 6: The ball of “cornflake milk” was pure delightful nostalgia, a throwback to early Saturday mornings of eating Kellogg’s cereal with milk sweetened with sugar while watching endless cartoons. Bliss!

cannelé, chewy caramel of grilled cream, and cornflake milk

The April Meal Celebrating Spring Ingredients

To start, I was given a welcome drink made with gin, rhubarb shrub, ginger, strawberry, and a splash of club soda. It was so delicious, I drank it in a few gulps before the alcohol even took effect.

welcome drink to whet the appetite

Course 1: Tender English peas with delicious shrimp sat in a savory broth brewed from grilled chicken. The egg yolk and smoked butter added rich notes to this soup that could double as a complete meal. The course was finished with caviar for a touch of luxury and sophistication.

peas with ebi and egg yolk poached in smoked butter

Course 2: Perfectly cooked chicken rillettes stuffed inside of al dente pasta. The cheese on top gave the course a nice, comfort-food feel. While not the most photogenic, this dish was quite delicious and very satisfying.

Course 3: This course also included morels stuffed with foie gras and a sauce of grilled chicken cream.

Course 4: Dollops of creamy chicken-liver mousse were accompanied by caramelized onion puree, pickled Yellowfoot mushrooms, and a pumpernickel “soil”. As additions, the course was served with a broth made from grilled chicken bones and a dinner roll. Chef Adkisson told me it was his mom’s family recipe reserved for special occasions. So, it was perfect for a Kanō pop-up dinner.

pickled chanterelles with onion and chicken liver,
chicken bone broth, and grilled dinner rolls

Course 5: This was not a cheese course; it was a rich, crustless cheesecake. The aerated dessert contained a strawberry-rhubarb jam and was topped with coconut and strawberry Dippin’ Dots. It was cold and sweet and a perfect way to end a tasting menu.

triple cows milk cheese with egg white and rhubarb

Course 6: These familiar petit fours were as delicious as when I first tried them at the February meal. In time, I hope they will become Kanō signature bites to close out a fine-dining dinner.

chewy caramel of grilled cream and cornflake milk

When I asked if I could get a picture, Chef Adkisson rallied the entire kitchen crew. I had so much fun that evening!

From left to right: Nick Reed, Collin Adkisson,
Kane Adkisson, me, Kye Adkisson, and Danny Flores

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