Driving east on Central from Downtown the other day I noticed a lot of comings and goings along the city's main artery. Asahi Teriyaki (at University), Spuds (at Princeton) and Red or Green (near Washington) are all gone. Among the new places sprouting up is the Swiss Alps Bakery on Harvard just south of Central. Owner Raimund Pepe has been turning out strudel at the original Swiss Alps (6607 Menaul NE) for several years. In the past year he opened then closed a location in Rio Rancho, deciding instead to try his luck near the University. The pretty yellow space with hand-made wooden furniture has a great bakery vibe to it, though in addition to breads, pastries and desserts, Swiss Alps also serves lunch and dinner. It is international menu that includes Swiss cheese quesadillas, cheese fondue, quiche and tuna sandwiches. The bratwurst and other sausages all come from the Alpine Bakery (Indian School and Girard). Check it out and don't leave without a snack from the bakery case.
O'Niell's Uptown has a new look. Though the restaurant at 6601 Uptown NE has had several changes of ownership since it was the old 505, it really hasn't undergone many physical changes. Until now, that is. Owner Rob O'Niell told me that he closed the restaurant for a week in order to make changes to the shape of the bar, to fill in some of the sunken area in the middle of the space and to do some repainting. In addition, a room that used to house pool tables was transformed into a conference room—O'Niell's now has two. O'Niell told me he wanted to make the space feel more like the Nob Hill location. “We have more of a pub atmosphere at Uptown... . People walk in and they go ’wow! It looks great.'”
After hearing some of the hubbub over the Journal's reviews of Thai Pepper (1502 Wyoming NE) and Thai Dining (1225 Eubank NE) I decided to check out Thai Dining for myself. In case you haven't been following, restaurant reviewer Kelly Koepke wrote about both restaurants in the same review and Thai Dining suffered in comparison to Thai Pepper, prompting several readers to write in defense of Thai Dining.. I've been to Thai Pepper and liked it. The atmosphere was charming and the food quite good. And Thai Dining? It's different, but I can't say it pales in comparison. The atmosphere at Dining is much lighter and brighter and the food is perhaps milder and less complex than at Pepper. I tried the jade curry, pad Thai, spicy thick rice noodles and a selection of appetizers and desserts. The most striking thing about Thai Dining is in fact the beginning and end of the meal. The wide selection of appetizers, though mostly fried, offers many and varied flavor delights, especially the curry puffs. And for dessert we absolutely loved the fried banana and homemade coconut ice cream. It's all a matter of opinion. Try both before you choose a favorite.