April 13, 2014 by LJK
Just a quickie here. My daughter and I tried out the new Irvingdale location of the Normandy for the first time last night. It’s in the notoriously bright blue building on the corner of 17th Street and Van Dorn, and the space itself still leaves a lot to be desired (needs new flooring, better furniture, and a paint job at the least), but in my opinion it beats the antiseptic Railyard “food court” hands down. The food and the overall experience were excellent, and I have high hopes that the Normandy will stick around here longer than it did in the Haymarket 2.0. When we got there at around 7 or so the place was full; we sat at the bar to wait for a table, which was ready in about three minutes, as the bartender was pouring my glass of wine. I worried we’d be caught in a Henry’s on South situation (see the discouraging comment on this post), but the service was prompt and professional. We never had to wait long for anything.
The Normandy has a fairly extensive menu for such a small place, but I wasn’t hungry for anything too substantial, so I’ll have to go back before making any grand pronouncements about the food. My daughter and I split a cheese plate, which was simple and perfect: three cheeses—a chèvre, an unknown, and a sort of Swiss or Gruyère—accompanied by three slices of very good crunchy baguette, a few marinated olives, and a dollop of grainy Dijon mustard. I had the salade compose, and everything was fresh: bitter greens, thinly sliced red onion, finely grated Swiss-type cheese (the same kind as on the cheese plate, I think), tomatoes, cucumbers, and sliced roasted chicken breast (you can choose your protein; other options were ham, roast beef, poached egg), with a slightly sweet balsamic vinaigrette. I loved that the greens had been seasoned separately with coarse salt rather than just tossed in the dressing. My daughter had a crêpe complete, with good-quality city ham, and that cheese again. We took the Normandy’s famous petit fours to go.
The atmosphere was lively (an accordion player in one corner performed throughout the evening in a pleasantly unobtrusive way), the crowd mostly older with a few younger hipster types for good measure. Everybody in Lincoln already knows the Normandy owner’s story, but in case you don’t, it’s a good one. The Normandy is open Tuesday–Thursday 11 a.m.–10 p.m. and Friday–Saturday 11 a.m.–11 p.m. It’s at 2785 S. 17th Street.