Mix a setting straight out of a Toby Keith song with a menu straight out of a foodie’s dream, and you get the Single Barrel in downtown Lincoln. The restaurant, owned by chef Brandon Harpster, occupies a fairly cavernous space once occupied by a print shop and bus station over the years. As the Single Barrel, it consists of pedestrian-looking tables in a large room with a stage, an enormous TV screen (to appeal to Cornhusker football fans), a dance floor and a mechanical bull. The ambience will almost certainly get a little more upscale as time goes by, based on the classy stacked-stone bar Brandon has built by the entrance.
The menu focuses on solid entrees, befitting Brandon's parallel role as a butcher with a special passion for local pork and smoked meats. Items are smoked on-site and include the obvious proteins as well as innovations such as smoked butter and coleslaw. Trust us; it works amazingly well. Other meats include bison and trout, all locally raised. The signature burger features blue cheese bacon butter and tomato compote. Dinner options include duck, bison short ribs, chorizo-encrusted trout and a serious-sounding porterhouse known as The Butters that features lemon garlic, duck bone marrow and truffle butters. Wait 30 minutes after that one before climbing on the mechanical bull.