New cafe is welcome addition to local restaurant scene
After living in Blaine for nine years, George O’Mara, 52, decided to open a restaurant.
Twenty days after making his decision, O’Mara was walking into the doors of his newly leased building at 1700 Peace Portal Drive, once home to Nicki’s Restaurant.
“The opportunity came up and I thought it was a good location,” O’Mara said. “I am a compulsive guy; I just did it.”
The name, Our Place Café, came after a long debate with friends, O’Mara chose it over the runner up, Your Place Café.
“I love plays on words,” O’Mara said. “I wanted it to be like ‘hey, lets go to our place for lunch.’”
Our Place Café opened for business on June 13, 2008, after nearly a month of remodeling. O’Mara stripped the entire inside of the building and replaced everything; he said he wanted it to be his own, not Nicki’s.
The sign for the restaurant was created by O’Mara’s son, and was the inspiration for the orange color scheme of the restaurant.
The menu is widespread and features the classics. Breakfast is served all day, anything from oatmeal, French toast and pancakes to omelets, steak and eggs and pigs in a blanket. But, his signature meals, a Philly steak sandwich and fish and chips, come from the other side of the menu.
Coming from Reading, Pennsyvania, and wanting to open a restaurant with a menu full of things he would want to eat, O’Mara said he had to include the Philly steak sandwich.
On a recent visit for lunch, I tried the sandwich, which comes with salad, fries or a cup of soup, and is made with half a pound of rib eye steak grilled with onions and comes on a French roll ($8.99).
At lunch, O’Mara explained the art of a Philly steak sandwich. In Philadelphia there are two styles of the sandwich: one that comes with cheese and one that comes with a tomato sauce.
“The one with cheese is usually made with Cheese Whiz, which I hate,” O’Mara said. “And the one with the tomato sauce tastes too much like pizza, so I decided to eliminate both, I thought it would be what the West coast would want.”
O’Mara will put the tomato sauce or cheese on if a customer asks for it, but I opted to try his version. When the sandwich arrived it looked intimidating, with steak spilling out of the bread, but I put my napkin in my lap and proceeded like a pro. I have never been a fan of onions, but after a few bites of the sandwich I quickly changed my mind.
O’Mara has temporarily taken the Philly steak sandwich off the menu so he can find a roll that he is more satisfied with, he said it needs to be a little bigger than the ones he was using.
“I don’t want to jeopardize the quality of the sandwich,” O’Mara said. “Until I can find a regular supplier for the rolls it is going to be off the menu. But, it will be back, even if I have to bake the rolls myself.”
After I finished half of the Philly steak sandwich, O’Mara came out with a sample of his fish and chips ($7.99). He said that he had to add fish and chips to the menu because in his opinion, there are relatively few decent fish and chip places in the area.
Unlike other fish and chips that I have tried, these were light and not too crunchy or over cooked. The fish could be tasted without the breading overpowering it. O’Mara would not share the secret of his batter recipe, but he said he leans more toward the European style – thinner batter and a faster cook time.
Some of the other items on the menu include Caesar salads ($7.99), Garden Burgers ($6.99), tuna melts on sourdough with tomatoes and cheese ($7.99), French dips ($7.69) and Ruebens ($7.99).
ur Place Café is open Wednesday through Saturday 7 a.m. to 7 p.m. and Sunday 7 a.m. to 3 p.m. and is located at 1700 Peace Portal Drive in Blaine.
O’Mara hopes to soon be open 7 a.m. to 7 p.m., daily. Their phone number is 360/306-8939.