Tag Archives: DINING

Good news in DSM: Kathmandu restaurant moves to Windsor Heights

Good news – our favorite Nepalese/Indian restaurant in Des Moines has moved a little closer to where we live — from the south side to Windsor Heights. My only concern is that one of my favorite things about Kathmandu (beyond the food) is the waiter’s shirt which said across the front: “More Parking in the Back.” (Now there’s plenty of parking in the front at the new location.)

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Good meal at our new neighborhood joint – MST in DSM

We finally got around to trying out our new neighborhood joint, the restaurant MST ( Motley School Tavern) in Des Moines’ Beaverdale neighborhood. It was good! I had a delicious hamburger – rare as requested, with cheddar instead of American cheese as requested. The meat appeared to be freshly ground so there were a few non-edible bits but that was OK. Dirck, the Kansan among us, enjoyed his Chicken Fried Steak with mashed potatoes. The service was pleasant and professional and quick. The ambiance is low-key, hipster Beaverdale (if there is such a thing.) Seems to be a big draw for  30-something bald men with long thick beards. (We saw three of them.)

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Linus Paul…oh and Francesca’s, Shake Shack, Cafecito, Heema’s — Chicago

The clear highlight of Labor Day weekend here in Chicago was meeting our sweet new grandson Linus Paul, born on Aug. 28, 2019 at Northwestern Hospital, 8.2 pounds, 22 inches and lovely. We met him and his mom and dad in the Prentis Women’s Hospital, maternity ward or whatever it is called these days. They had a spacious room with a dazzling view of Lake Michigan.

When we were not holding and staring in wonder at Linus, we walked around the city and ate a meal or two, including two chosen for their proximity to the hospital – – Cafecito, an offshoot of a Cuban restaurant we really like downtown and had no idea had offshoots, let alone one near to Michigan Avenue, and Francesca’s, across the street from cafecito, where we had excellent celebratory pasta with Aunt Mary Ann. We had excellent Indian food from Heema’s on Devon Street, takeout style with the new babe and parents and Uncle Noah. The lake was very full, with crashing waves and water gobbling up the concrete shore near Oak Street Beach. Now we are driving home and no doubt will be back soon to see the babe.

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Filed under Chicago, DINING, Illinois

Kudos to Aposto – DSM

not only served up excellent Italian food on Saturday night but hefty portions of it — something not always done during Des Moines’ Restaurant Week. Too often, we’ve become hungry soon after a restaurant week meal — with tiny portions of this and that for the $28 fixed price menu. (Didn’t it used to be $25? Now there are also optional add-ons to the menu, for an additional price.)

At Aposto — which we’ve somehow never been to until now, although it’s been around for years — they chose differently. The food was very good — gazpacho or Cesar Salad for the first course; glazed chunks of pork with brocollini or cavatelli with sausage for the main; panna cotta with balsamic and strawberries or a wicked remake of a Reese’s peanut butter cup for dessert. So was the service, the price and yes, the portions. We were not remotely hungry, hours later.

Aposto is in a shabby chic old house in the historic Sherman Hill neighborhood, with a graceful wraparound porch (where we ate outside with friends in perfect eating out weather — cool, no bugs). It’s the former home of a restaurant we loved decades ago — Chat Noir — and still retains some of its funkiness.

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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.

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Filed under Des Moines, DESTINATIONS - Iowa

Filipino-Pakistani fusion food in — where else, Ankeny Iowa.

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2018 James Beard Award Finalist restaurants in Minneapolis and Milwaukee to try.

Best Chef: Midwest (IA, KS, MN, MO, NE, ND, SD, WI)

Karen Bell (Bavette La Boucherie, Milwaukee)

Steven Brown (Tilia, Minneapolis)

Justin Carlisle (Ardent, Milwaukee)

Gavin Kaysen (Spoon and Stable, Minneapolis)  WON

Ann Kim (Young Joni, Minneapolis)

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Filed under DINING, Milwaukee, Minneapolis

Black Dirt in KC and Casita Airbnb in Lawrence

We are staying in a sweet little room off the garage in an old house on an old street in Lawrence. It’s described as a casita and it is sort of. Not freestanding like casitas I’ve stayed at in New Mexico but small, cheerful and well appointed so suits us just fine (and very reasonably priced. About $50 As I recall.) Sure beats a bland motel (we will have that tomorrow in Dodge City).

As we were barreling down Interstate 35 from Des Moines and getting hungry, we remembered a great little restaurant we’d gone to in a former drugstore in Smithville, Mo., just north of Kansas City. but when I looked it up, I discovered it had closed. Then I discovered the owner had just opened a restaurant in Kansas City, just south of the plaza, about two blocks from where we lived very briefly almost 30 years ago. The restaurant, Black Dirt, was very good. We had the much-lauded fried chicken which was as good as advertised. Somehow, the chicken breast meat was moist, the skin crispy but light, the sage gravy and potatoes creamy and flavorful and the stalks of broccoli rabe were bright green but well cooked and again, full of flavor (butter?cumin seeds). We also had a Missouri Caesar with tender chunks of fried catfish instead of croutons. The salty part was smoked trout rather than anchovies. Clever and good. Also enjoyed the duck confit fritters and the homemade bread with butter was worth the $5 Extra, Our waitress was a Drake U. Grad and big fan of DSM so that was fun. We will be back!

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Provisions – great new place to eat in Ames, albeit in odd location

IMG_1052.jpegI didn’t doubt for a moment that Provisions would be a good place to eat in Ames  because it came recommended by my friend Veronica, a longtime resident, superb cook and discerning diner. But without Veronica’s recommendation, I might have dismissed Provisions out of hand because of its unpromising location in a nondescript land of bland office parks, on the side of Loop Road, no less.

IMG_2332 (2).jpgBut the food was fabulous — and I am already longing to return for the salmon sandwich I had on a dark brown brioche roll. The salmon was lightly grilled but moist, full of flavor, on that gorgeous slightly sweet roll with slices of cucumber and a light dill sour cream sauce. The hamburger  (which the two Iowa State University students we were visiting ordered) also looked superb and the Cuban sandwich was also good. My sister was very happy with her grilled salmon atop greens – which is a go to entree for her but still managed to be special. My only regret is that I could not take home one of the homemade breads (especially cranberry pecan) from the to-go counter which was closed by the time we left. We’ll be back! Thank you Veronica!

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Another Nepalese restaurant in DSM — A tale of two onion bhajis

Onion Bhajis At Kathmandu

Oddly, there is a second Nepalese/Indian restaurant now in Des Moines and this one is on the same street as the first — a workaday stretch of Southeast 14th Street. Everest looks spiffier than Kathmandu, a few blocks up the road. But the minute I saw the alleged onion bhajis at Everest, I thought “Nope.”  Those are onion rings, not bhajis, which are more like fritters.  Anyway, I know the real deal when I see it and Everest’s wasn’t it. The rest of the meal was passable but we will definitely be sticking with Kathmandu, which has better, more interesting, flavorful and authentic food, plus more endearing and competent service, even if it is a less spiffy place.

Onion bhajis (really onion rings) at Everest

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