Category Archives: DINING

DSM restaurant news: Enter Peruvian food on Ingersoll and redo of Chef’s Kitchen in Beaverdale (coming mid-April)

Word has it from Wini Moranville with DSM magazine that the redo of Beaverdale’s Chefs  Kitchen by the folks who brought us the good DSM restaurants Eatery A,  Alba and Harbinger should be unveiled in Mid-April. No further word on details including a possible new name or type of cuisine.  Our dinner at Alba last Saturday night (for Dirck’s birthday) was good – the red wine braised brisket was a bit dry but the carrot congee (whatever that is) was as moist as mac n’ cheese so that helped; the pan roasted chicken breast with a cake of bacon-sage bread pudding and Brussel sprouts was delicious. I would have tried the fancy deviled eggs if the birthday boy liked deviled eggs. We went with a mushroom bruschetta, which was very good. And the molten chocolate  lava cake was decadent, as usual.

Wini also reports that Eatery A , at 2932 Ingersoll Ave. has added brunch/lunch service on Tuesday, Wednesday and Thursday. Before it was Friday through Sunday. Looks like its avocado toast will give St. Kilda’s some competition.

In the meantime, I’m eager to try the new Panka Peruvian restaurant, a few blocks east at 2708 Ingersoll! Haven’t had Peruvian food since we were in Peru in, um, 2013 when our son was studying in Lima. This is the only Peruvian Restaurant in Des Moines, apparently, although maybe not the first?

 

By Wini Moranville

Until this year, Eatery A only served noontime meals on Fridays through Sundays. Now, they’ve added brunch/lunch service on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays. More good news: To celebrate their fifth anniversary, Eatery A is offering a buy one/get one free lunch special on Tuesdays, Wednesdays and Thursdays during the month of February. Starting today.

Last week, I ventured in to give the hybrid lunch/brunch menu a try. Executive Chef Keith Johnson, who recently took over the kitchen from Nic Gonwa, oversees a dynamite menu: Entrees range from a crab eggs Benedict and lemon-ricotta pancakes (a personal favorite) to shrimp and grits, spaghetti and meatballs and a cauliflower-chickpea falafel. And then there are toasts, salad bowls, sandwiches and wood-fired pizza, too.

Johnson and team have said “game on” to the culinary scene’s ongoing avocado-toast crush, and Eatery A’s is as crush-worthy as any I’ve had elsewhere. Well, almost. I must say I prefer an oozing poached egg over the mostly cooked-through one here, but that’s a personal preference. Otherwise the smashed avocado topped with artfully arranged feta, pickled corn, conserved tomato and chickpeas and a slight tangle of arugula pleased in all the right rich, sprightly and bright ways. My dining pal was equally pleased with her quiche Florentine (aka spinach quiche), which especially stood out for its brown-butter crust and the accompanying shaved-fennel salad. Just lovely.

So, where has former exec chef Gonwa gone? He’s off concepting a new venue with restaurateur Jason Simon (of Alba, Eatery A and Harbinger fame). The new restaurant is taking over the former Chef’s Corner Kitchen spot in Beaverdale. Johnson tells me they’re shooting for a mid-April opening.

Eatery A is at 2932 Ingersoll Ave., 515-282-8085; eateryadsm.com.

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Filed under Des Moines, DESTINATIONS - Iowa, DINING

Library book sale, Sip n’soda – Southampton,NY/Wainscott Beach

On the Saturday after Thanksgiving in Water Mill, we made our annual visit to the amazing book sale at the Southampton Public Library where often newly released books can be found for a fraction of their original cost.

Then for something new, seven of us crammed into a wooden booth at Sip n’Soda, the local soda fountain (since 1958) for some no frills food that was pretty good including crisp onion rings, good malts and shakes and a decent BLT and burger. We liked the old fashioned no frills vibe, the long counter, the booths.

We also had a lovely walk along the beach in Wainscott, a three minute walk from the sweet cottage where we stayed this year (my favorite of the many borrowed digs we have stayed at out here). The weather finally warmed, the sun was out and we walked to nearby Georgica Pond.

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Al-Ameer – dining in Dearborn 

If you want to eat middle eastern food in the Detroit area, why not go to the community with the largest Muslim population in the USA? Which is how we ended up at Al-Ameer in Dearborn, an area I have long wanted to explore.

Some of our party were skeptical but within minutes of sitting down in a booth inside the modern, diner-like restaurant we knew we had found a winner. It didn’t hurt that there was a plaque on the wall suggesting the place was a James beard foundation winner (not sure what for specifically).

The food was fantastic- best tabbouli  I’ve ever had. Very green, Just parsley and chopped tomatoes, no bulgar. Lots of lemon and I’m not sure what else. The babaganouj was also the best I’ve had (I usually don’t like it much). The hummus was rich and creamy, slight tang. Fresh little pita pockets. My dad’s entree was my favorite— sautéed chicken livers, which I’ve never seen at a middle eastern restaurant. Barbara’s garlic chicken shiskabob was also excellent. The service was quick and cheerful. Yes we were Jews in an Arab family restaurant but we felt welcome.

Other options from friend Sarah:  still think the Local places (grape leaves and pita cafe) have great food and on the more costly end, love Phoenicia. Hands down Best lamb chops, Best steamed cabbage, Best merguez, Best rice pudding and on and on. Eli’s is somewhere in between but like it there too

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Filed under Detroit, DINING, Michigan

Simon’s for nothing fancy comfort food and comraderie – Des Moines dining

We had the hardest time using a gift certificate to dine at Simon’s (aka J. Benjamin’s) , a cozy neighborhood joint on Des Moines’ north side. Our first mistake may have been trying on Saturday night.  Both times we found a line outside the door (even in the rain). The first night, the small place was dominated by a large table full of prom kids — from far away Ames, no less. We eventually left.

The second night, there was another table of prom kids (this time from the Des Moines area) but we stuck it out and waited for a table, which was actually kind of fun.  We chatted with other waiting diners crammed into a little area between the dining room and the front door. We had a drink at the bar and discovered that one of the servers was someone we knew as a kid when she was in elementary school.

When we finally were seated, we found the food  unexceptional but serviceable/just fine. We decided it was the place to eat uncomplicated southern Italian staples — spaghetti with meatballs and red sauce; hearty lasagna with sausage from local favorite, Graziano’s, and oozing with ricotta and mozzarella.

But we can see why the place is popular.  It has a “Cheers” kind of feel, where everyone would know your name if you told them your name.  The small dining room was so packed that when people walked past our high-walled booth, they inevitably peeked in at us — looking like they hoped they’d spot friends. When they didn’t, they smiled. Some people might find this intrusive. We found it amusing — and endearing. Classic Des Moines.

Also, the service was warm, friendly and swift.  The young owner, in casual garb, went out of his way to acknowledge that people were waiting and to update them on the wait and the options while waiting (like sitting at the bar). That’s the way to do it! And I’m assuming it was his idea to give us a free piece of delicious red velvet cake at the end of our meal. I gather from Yelp that complimentary cake is not unusual…although I can’t promise it.

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New (or newly spotted) at the Downtown Des Moines Farmers Market

Several new (or new-to-me) stands at the Des Moines Farmers Market downtown on Saturday mornings are further testament to the creative entrepreneurial spirit that is alive and well in rural America.  Among my favorites is “Judy’s Husband’s Stuffed Pickles” — which not only has an amusing (if somewhat cumbersome) name but has people waiting in line for what appears to be “hand made” pickles stuffed with creamed cheese.

Several ethnic food stands also caught my eye including one selling Korean bibimbap and another cooking up a mean Afro-Caribbean Jerk Chicken.

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Lovely Airbnb, Biking the Lakes, Hot Indian and the Happy Gnome — Twin Cities

at Minnehaha Falls

My friend Nell and I only had a half day here but made the most of it. After driving my son Noah back to his apartment in Minneapolis from a trip home to DSM, we checked into our pretty Airbnb, an early 1900’s four square with a lovely garden in South Minneapolis near the Minnehaha Parkway and bike trail. We stopped at  Midtown Global Market for some “Hot Indian” food including an “indurrito (Indian burrito) and delicious “Indi-Frites” – crispy seasoned fries with an aoili dipping sauce. Clever.

On an afternoon with perfect bike riding weather (cool, light breeze, slightly cloudy) we rode on a lightly populated trail (a Monday) west and north to Lakes Harriet, Calhoun and Lake of the Isles. I did learn that when you ride this direction, you have to stay off of the bike trail that’s on the sidewalk rimming the lakes because it’s carefully designated for riders going the opposite direction — and Twin Cities riders take these designations very seriously, as they should especially on very busy weekends.

The trails were relatively quiet on a Monday but we didn’t want to “break the rules” so we ended up riding a few sections of the trail on the side of the access road lining the trail, which fortunately had few cars but was at times bumpy and sandy. No big deal. I also learned that the Lake of the Isles offers immediate and easy access to the Midtown Greenway trail, another favorite and we rode that subterranean-feeling trail to a cool trailside bike store/cafe called MPLS Coaster Brake Cafe, near the Global Market. I loved that you could wheel your bike right into the store/cafe and park it near some lounge chairs to take a break. No need to lock out front.

Happy Gnomes

We rode back on Portland Avenue along the bike lane which worked well, given the heavy rush hour traffic. There were several other riders, which helped make us a more visible presence on a busy city thoroughfare. Back on the Minnehaha Parkway, we learned the hard way to stay on the trail rather than the bordering streets, in order to get under 35W Highway. (We had to backtrack slightly and portage down some steps with our bikes.) We also had to overshoot the street where our airbnb was because there wasn’t an easy exit off the wooded trail — but no big deal, we just backtracked a little.

Dinner was at The Happy Gnome, a gastropub in St. Paul (which I kept calling the “Grumpy Troll,” a Wisconsin place we’re going to this weekend). We went for the beer (note to self: Indeed is a good local brew!) and ended up staying to eat (note to self: good salmon burger) rather than going to a nearby Cambodian restaurant, as planned. Great company, with two of the world’s nicest boys, errr, young men! On the way home, we stopped briefly at Patisserie 46 (because it was only blocks from our airbnb) and for a quick walk around Minnehaha Falls (note to self: hike this area properly some time!).

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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