Daniel Szucs, executive chef for Omaha Marriott Downtown at the Capitol District, and his culinary team are striving for a particular reaction when people sample the unique homemade cuisine at their downtown Omaha restaurant, Burdock + Bitters. “We want them to drop their fork and say, ‘Wow, that definitely wasn’t hotel food. That was amazing,’” said the six-year leader of the Marriott hotel’s culinary program.
Szucs and his dedicated chefs take that “not-hotel-food” mantra into account with every from-scratch seasonal menu they create. Burdock + Bitters is building a reputation among hotel guests and local patrons who delight in its regionally inspired, elevated Midwestern food with a fusion flair—delicacies such as an Omaha strip steak with a French black garlic bordelaise sauce, or a caramelized white chocolate brownie with sweet corn gelato and peppercorn basil caramel drizzle. Szucs even employs full-time pastry chef Natasha “Bird” Lulla—an extreme rarity for a hotel restaurant—and the full kitchen staff collaborates around a whiteboard seasonally to create fresh, innovative food choices. “We want to push the bounds of cuisine,” said Szucs, who came to Omaha six years ago from Mason Street Grill in Milwaukee, WI. “It’s rare to see elevated food in a hotel, and we want to provide unexpected touches with every item on the menu.”
Burdock + Bitters restaurant staff and bar mixologists are taking that same creative approach for Yelp special events such as barrel tastings of specially selected whiskey. The restaurant also hosts occasional high-end personal dining experiences with menus that reflect the ultra-fine dining of the east and west coast. For a recent personal dining experience, Szucs and his culinary team created an exclusive night of “Memories,” with each handcrafted menu item inspired by the team’s recollections from their youth. “We bring out the big guns for these small, exclusive groups,” Szucs said. “Each course is interactive with the chef coming out to describe the course and explain their inspiration.”
Marriott’s location in the heart of downtown Omaha puts Burdock + Bitters in prime real estate to capture crowds from events such as the College World Series and Berkshire Hathaway’s annual Shareholder weekend. With proximity to concert venues such as the CHI Health Center Omaha, the Slowdown, and the new Steelhouse raising foot traffic around its location, the restaurant will sometimes offer speciality menus for concert nights. Recently, the restaurant also hosted a six-course dining experience crafted by Szucs and his culinary team, thoughtfully paired with multiple varieties of tequila. All of it is adding up to propel Burdock + Bitters to a consistent top-10 ranking among 330 Marriott food and beverage programs in North America. “We rank far and above hotels that have been around for a lot longer, and if you interact with anybody here, you will see why,” Szucs said. “You see it collectively from the entire staff—from housekeeping to the front desk to food and beverage. Everyone has very high expectations of our hotel, and every one of our employees recognizes that and wants to be the very best.”
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