My main disappointment with the December farm-to-table meal by the chef of the Wallace House in Des Moines was that, to our surprise, the meal wasn’t held at the Wallace House, a pretty 19th century building in the Sherman Hill neighborhood. Apparently the place isn’t big enough any more for the event so it was held at nearby Hoyt Sherman Place, which was pleasant but still…I’ve been there before, for several weddings during the 1990’s and have not been the Wallace House.
From what I gather, other Wallace Center meals throughout the year on Thursdays are held at the Wallace House. Click here for details. I’ve also enjoyed meals during the summer prepared by Chef Katie Porter at the Wallace’s old farmstead in Orient, about 45 miles west of Des Moines. (Details below. It’s closed during the winter, last I heard.) Henry Wallace, fyi, was an extraordinary Iowan — U.S. Vice President under FDR (1941-45, until he was replaced by Truman for being too liberal) and an agricultural innovator who founded the powerhouse agricultural seed company Pioneer Hi-Brid (now technically known as Corteva Agriscience, after it was bought by DuPont, which then merged with Dow Chemical. and then spun off as a standalone company).
The food was good – honey nut squash and apple soup (that could have been hotter, but I say that about most soups at restaurants and large gatherings); beef short ribs braised in red wine with a delicious potato kale cake and grilled vegetables; and apple ginger crisp that was a little on the dry side (more oatmeal-y, than I like) served with a sage ice cream. For the price $48, a glass of wine or can of beer could have been included. Seemed a bit steep. Nice live music by the John Krantz Duo and of course, great company with a table full of friends.
Where Farm & Table are Just Steps Apart
Friday Lunches and Dinners at the Country Life Center
The Gathering Table restaurant is located inside the historic barn replica at the Henry A. Wallace Country Life Center near Orient, IA. Open to the public on Fridays, the restaurant offers lunch and dinner menus centered around the more than 40 varieties of fresh produce grown in the 12 acre on-site garden and orchard. Seasonal fresh fruits and vegetables that are rich in flavor and beauty are complimented by beef, pork, lamb, poultry, cheese and grains. Menu options change almost weekly.
Walk-ins or reservations are welcome for lunch. Please make your reservation by 3 pm for dinner. Live music is on hand every Friday evening; call us to find out who is performing.
The Gathering Table may need to close because of private events such as reunions and wedding receptions. These dates are posted in advance. We apologize for any inconvenience. No lunch or dinner will be held on Friday, November 23 in observance of Thanksgiving. Our final dinner for the season is November 30. Lunches end for the season on December 14.
Please call 641-337-5019 for reservations or email Lisa Swanson.