High stakes poker games happened here on a routine basis. The Reuben sandwich was invented here. Butter Brickle ice cream was created in the kitchen. The Blackstone Hotel and its Orleans Restaurant hosted dignitaries and celebrities, such as future President John F. Kennedy and his wife, Jackie. Then-Senator Kennedy was speaking at a conference in Omaha.
Today, the Kimpton Cottonwood Hotel now occupies the building. The upscale hotel at 302 S. 36th Street in the Blackstone entertainment district showcases its history while featuring contemporary designs. Built during the 1920s with a Second Renaissance Revival design, the hotel’s rooms and hallways include black-and-white photos of the hotel, its rooms and people who visited.
As part of the IHG collection, the Cottonwood is a beautiful hotel with a service-oriented staff. From the moment you arrive at the hotel, where a valet will park your vehicle for the night, to check-in, you’re treated with respect that makes you feel like royalty.
You’ll want to explore the hotel, checking out the outdoor pool, along with the poolside bar. Lounges are staffed with bartenders in case you prefer a drink as you relax in comfortable chairs. Or, you can just sit back and visit with friends.
The boutique hotels features open guest rooms and suites, immaculately laid out. During our visit, we enjoyed a king bed guest room. With a sofa, lounging chair and work station, it felt like a small apartment. The bathroom included separate tub and shower.
The bed was so comfortable I thought about sleeping through the day.
While at the hotel, Lisa and I enjoyed an amazing dinner at The Committee Chophouse. Open to the public, the restaurant offers a fine dining menu with tender, aged steaks cooked to perfection. My favorite was the Cowboy Cut, a 20 oz. steak cooked at 1200 degrees Fahrenheit with the bone attached, which combined with a fine layer of fat, creates a delicious bite that seemingly melts in your mouth. Order it Oscar style, and they’ll top your steak with lobster, asparagus and hollandaise, adding a mouthwatering flavor to the dish.
Lisa ordered a pan roasted halibut topped with crab, asparagus and hollandaise. She enjoyed the freshness of the fish and the savory toppings.
With family-style sides of Lyonnaise potatoes, sliced potatoes perfectly fried, and cream corn, which is more like corn casserole, you’re guaranteed to have leftovers.
Our evening started with an appetizer of tea smoked duck (it’s my kryptonite. If duck is on the menu, I’m sure to get it). About six inches long, the duck spear is accented with pickled vanilla pear, bleu cheese and salted walnuts. A server accidentally delivered our duck to another table, and the couple – celebrating an anniversary – thought it was a gift from the restaurant.
Once the error was relayed to us, the server apologized, and the woman at the other table exclaimed, “And it was delicious!”
“Happy anniversary,” we replied.
The server quickly resolved the error, and our duck was delivered to the table. The wait was worth it! Succulent, tender and delicious, combining the duck bites with the pear pieces, cheese and walnut created a taste I’ve never enjoyed before.
The restaurant split a handmade Caesar salad for us. Honestly, I could have ordered a large one for my meal. So tasty.
For dessert, I went with the butter brickle ice cream, to stay with the Omaha theme. Lisa chose affogato, espresso poured over ice cream.
Whether you’re staying at the hotel or just dining at the chophouse, the Kimpton Cottonwood Hotel proudly breathes new life into the historic Blackstone building.