Wheatfields is a full-service bakery, take-out deli, and big, modern restaurant with a multi-page menu that has something for everyone. Salads, wraps, potato casseroles, crepes and comfort foods, fried chicken and chicken-fried steak, vegetarian and vegan options, exotic coffees, beer by the bottle and wine by the glass, bottle, or half bottle: If you can’t find something you like in this place, you aren’t hungry.
I came for the Cheese Frenchee, an east Nebraska specialty that is a grilled cheese sandwich that is not grilled, but battered and deep-fried. Frenchees range from creamy luxe to leaden ballast; the one Wheatfields serves is somewhere in the middle. It’s three great bricks of sandwich that are so heavily battered and so well fried that it’s hard to discern the difference between thick crust and the sandwich it envelops. It is dry as-is, but happily it comes with a cup of ranch dressing in which one dips the Frenchee bite by bite, thus adding welcome lubricant and taste balance. Also on the side is a pile of large steak fries. They’re good, but somewhat redundant alongside a deep-fried sandwich.
It would take weeks to eat one’s way through Wheatfields’ full repertoire of meals, not to mention its vast selection of bakery items. I’m not sure it would be worth the effort to do so, but I could not resist sampling a meat loaf sundae, listed on the menu’s page of comfort foods. It’s a clever kitsch idea: a scoop of mashed potatoes resembling ice cream atop chunks of meat loaf (a brownie?), topped with gravy and barbecue sauce (syrup), corn niblets (nuts), and a little red tomato (maraschino cherry). There’s also an onion ring on top, but I am not sure what that’s supposed to be impersonating. No, this is not a dish for meat loaf purists. Its multiple-personality flavor can really confuse taste buds. But I kept forking into it with pleasure, getting a different balance of ingredients in every bite.
Wheatfields is a very popular place, and it’s easy for a customer to feel that he is being efficiently processed rather than hospitably served. Not that there’s anything wrong with efficient processing, but the scale of things can be overwhelming. Although Wheatfields is family-owned and operated, I can’t help but think that it aches to become a national chain.