Category Archives: Dining

for future reference West DSM: The Foundry!

A hall full of food truck fare?
Sounds interesting!

Looking forward to checking out The Foundry which opened recently in West Des Moines’ Valley Junction. See: Details here!


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Real onion bhajis in Des Moines…at a Nepalese Restaurant no less!

I fell in love with onion bhajis in the 1980s when I lived in London and started going to Indian restaurants. But I have rarely found them on menus in Indian restaurants in the U.S. so when I spotted them on the menu at Kathmandu, a new Nepalese restaurant on Des Moines south side, I had to violate my pledge not to eat Indian food at the restaurant (we wanted to stick with Nepalese entrees since we’ve rarely had Nepalese food) and glad I did.

 They were the real deal. crispy clumps of cut onions, battered and fried, served with two sauces. THink Indian onion rings that look more like a sloppy latke. WE also had chicken moma, a Nepalese dumpling and a Nepalese version of saag (spinach) creamed with chunks of potatoes. the restaurant looks like a bodega from the outside, on an uncharming thoroughfare known for ragtag shops, cheap motels, pawn shops, rough bars, used cars and immigrant- owned businesses.

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Chicago- Chicago Athletic Association Hotel/Cindy’s; Mango Pickle in Edgewater

On the way to and back from London, I stopped in Chicago to see family and have some new adventures. My Aunt and I lucked into a table at Cindy’s – a rooftop restaurant inside the fantastic Chicago Athletic Association Hotel, formerly a private athletic club circa the 1890’s,  with an open-air terrace looking out across Millennial Park, the Art Institute and Chicago’s skyscrapers to the lake. Glorious.  I’d been curious about the place when I was down at Millennial Park and looked up to see people gathered on the rooftop terrace of the stately old building on Michigan Avenue. The restaurant has a glass roof, so full of light — and good food too (recommend the lobster roll on brioche). We wandered around the building afterwards – very old world, old money. Cool space where the indoor pool used to be. And another interesting-looking restaurant (minus the view0 – the Cherry Circle Room. Glad we were let in!

Also ate at Mango Pickle, an Indian-inspired place in Edgewater, near Emma & Rocket’s. Hard to explain the food – interesting is the best word I can come up with.

Must try again. Joined a big crowd afterwards at the neighborhood frozen custard place.


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Japan-like coffee arrives in Des Moines at the Horizon Line – I think

In Tokyo last year, we stumbled upon what seemed like a novel way to prepare and serve iced coffee — a pool of dark coffee in a wide deep bowl with a rectangular chunk of ice floating in the middle, slowly melting and making the coffee colder.

A new coffee place, the Horizon Line, in Des Moines seems to have the same idea – although I’ll probably ask the barista to hold the ginger beer (which sounds too weird) See the photo in this DSM Register story for more details:

Coffee connoisseurs should head to this new Des Moines spot New coffee spot in DSM

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Parks & Rec Diner, Guardian Building, Parducci reliefs – Downtown Detroit

This summer’s adventures in downtown Detroit included an excellent egg-centric brunch at Parks & Rec Diner, a fun little spot  way downtown in a former, you guessed it, city of Detroit parks and rec office in a surprisingly elegant castle-like stone building. Cheerful spot with good service, lots of young people in vintage-inspired outfits (later learned there was an LGBT festival nearby) and creative egg dishes (a creamy bright yellow hard boiled duck egg accompanying a mound of smoked salmon atop a lightly flavored crime freise sauce, and a heap of thick brown eye from the famous Avalon Bakery; Turkish eggs – perfectly poached with olives, tabbouli and homemade pita).

Onto the Guardian Building, an Art Deco beauty that was more impressive than anything I saw recently in Miami’s South Beach. Who knew?

We took a free walking architecture tour that began at the Guardian and focused on the deeply cut ornate stone reliefs by an artist named Parducci that adorn buildings by famous Detroit architect Albert Kahn. WE got as far  as the Penobscot building and then had to break off early so I could get to my 40th high school reunion at the always stunning campus of Cranbrook in Bloomfield Hills.

It was amazing to see 30 some people including some from Australia on the walking tour by Pure Detroit. next trip, I hope to take a tour of the Guardian Building and maybe even dare to ride a bike around the area. I really think this time Detroit is “back” but it’s at that fragile stage where there’s a lot more work to be done but also a palpable sense of potential and discovery. I hope it doesn’t tip either way (back into decay/decline or forward too fast into overdeveloped. Tricky to manage.

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PJ Bernstein’s, Pomodoro Rossi, new Q subway, gotham Hall, Central Synagogue– NYC

We love NYC but hope to get home to Des Moines tonight on this dreary rainy day. Our flight is already delayed so we aren’t sure we will make our connection in St. Louis. Other than that, we had a great time. We were surprised to enjoy our two visits to Central Synagogue so much. It turned out to be a spectacular Sephardic temple on 55th and Lexington, run by a smart charismatic group of women rabbis and cantors who we’re warm, friendly, and sing beautifully. The lead rabbi was also Asian. Another surprise.  The party was held at Gotham Hall, an imposing former bank (I’m told) on 36th and Broadway and 6th Avenue, near the original Macy’s. It has a huge domed ceiling below which some 300 or so of us ate, danced and partied until after midnight.

Breakfast at PJ Bernsteins

Last night we had good Italian food at Pomorodo Rossi, a neighborhood place on Columbus and 71st or so, can conveniently located near my relatives apart. Good pasta with seafood and a light red sauce, grilled artichoke and an outdoor table where we had a rare and wonderful dinner with our dear friends Myra and mike who won the good friend award for driving in from Connecticut.

At Pomodoro Rossi, Columbus Avenue

Today, we met my brother at The Whitney Museum, our favorite place to hang out on a rainy Monday. This time we saw the Biennial exhibit which had some challenging stuff, as expected. Lunch was lobster bisque and a shared crab cake sandwich at Lobster Place in Chelsea Market.

Noshing on Schnecken at Greenbergs, Madison Ave. in 80s

at Lobster Place, Chelsea Market

On the east side, we had corned beef and breakfast at PJ Bernsteins on 3rd, morning pastries on Lexington at Corrado Bakery and coffee served by Aussies at Heavenly Rest Stop at 91st and Fifth, in an alcove of a fancy church by the same name.

Heavenly Rest Stop, Upper East Side

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More good things in Des Moines – Akebono (sushi), new Farmers Market vendors, spiffed up Graziano Mkt, new East Village places

New improved Graziano’s meat counter, DSM

Good stuff keeps coming to Des Moines and this longtime resident remains thankful. Even Graziano’s, the old Italian specialty store on the south side has spiffed up with some major remodeling – and is now surrounded by new apartment complexes.

I didn’t think we’d have many people to watch as we ate on the patio at Akebono, a Japanese restaurant with good sushi, in downtown Des Moines last Saturday night but the streets were hopping. Part of it had to do with a food truck event  nearby at the Des Moines Social Club, some Kentucky Derby partygoers, some Prom kids and a crowd at the restaurant Malo but it still amazes me to see so much happening in a once obscure corner of downtown. We enjoyed Akebono’s food and service too (although the poke didn’t resemble the kind I’ve enjoyed in places like Hawaii and LA.)

The farmers market opened to a huge crowd (the weather was gorgeous) and I was pleased to see new vendors such as 5 Borough Bagels from Clive and Scenic Route Bakery from the East Village. The new HyVee also  fit right in, which is a relief. People on the HyVee patio were eating what looked like good brunch entrees including French Toast.

We stopped at Zombie Burger during a bike ride and were a bit disappointed by their new recipe for fries and the cranberry-Gorgonzola salad. We preferred the less crunchy fries and the salad with a less sweet dressing and bacon (although Zombie kindly added bacon to our salad anyway). Sitting on the patio, we took note of all the new buildings surrounding us, which makes the place feel more urban and busy, including the AC Hotel which has what we’ve been told is a great rooftop bar.

On the Great Western Trail, we were relieved to see that the changes in the trail to accommodate the Microsoft server plant and a highway near Orilla have not messed up our favorite trail. Also pleased to see that the pub Outskirtz looked more open for passing bikers on a Sunday than I’ve seen in the past.

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