A perfect 60th birthday meal at Harbinger — Des Moines

I get why the chef at the small Des Moines restaurant Harbinger is a semifinalist for a James Beard award (Best Chef, Midwest). We just had a superb meal there to mark my 60th birthday. We’d been once before – during restaurant week when we ate small bites of small plates for a small price. This time, we got bigger bites of small plates for a not-as-small-but-still-reasonable price — and the food made even more of an impression, a good one. Almost all the “plates” had an Asian twist — Vietnamese, Thai or Japanese — and almost every one was something we’d never eaten before.

We had two appetizers —  the first was “tapioca and pecorino fritters” –2-inch crispy-on-the-outside-moist-on-the-inside logs of yes, tapioca and tangy cheese in a spicy tomato sauce. Delicious. So were the Prince Edward Island mussels in a light but spicy Thai coconut milk sauce.

The small plates we tried (and enjoyed) were:

  • A bowl with moist coconut rice, large pieces of  Berkshire pork shank (“braised in Chinese aromatics” and roasted chili vinegar).
  • Fresh spinach with sweet cipolla onions and strawberries somehow dried akin to raisins.
  • Two small steamed buns — one with spicy sriracha chicken, the other with a grilled pork belly in a sweet Hoisin sauce.
Dessert, which was on the house because it was my birthday, was a “YUZU KOSHO tartlet”* which tasted sort of like a deconstructed lemon meringue pie but looked nothing like one. There was a big pale yellow blob of lemon curd with a little chili kick that looked like a large creamy egg yolk and then a small tail of cooked blue berries, little white blobs of creamy meringue and chips of what we were told was part of a fortune cookie. It was clever and superb!
Note to self: return for the happy hour and the weekend brunch!
* This from Wikipedia: Yuzu is a Japanese citrus fruit that looks like a lemon. Yuzukoshō  is Japanese seasoning, a paste made from chili peppers, yuzu peel and salt, which is then fermented. It is usually used as a condiment for nabemono dishes, miso soup, and sashimi.

1 Comment

Filed under Des Moines, DESTINATIONS - Iowa

One response to “A perfect 60th birthday meal at Harbinger — Des Moines

  1. Des Moines is getting pretty fancy!

    Sent from my ipad


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