So many places, so little time. An intro to the “Eat Series.”
I wanted to find a way to share my eating adventures with you without creating an entire post dedicated to one stop. In part because of time as these posts take me awhile. Also I have a ton of content for the site, but it gets old so quickly (My New Years Resolution is to post more in 2013!). So I decided to try this method and call it “Eat.”
Eat Des Moines, Eat Minneapolis, Eat Las Vegas, Eat Chicago… Eat Hong Kong? Well, maybe someday.
As of now, I will just refer to it as the “Eat Series.” A series to show you where I have been, what I have eaten, and what I have to say about it. Who knows? Maybe this series will help you find a good meal in one of these cities or keep you away from a bad one.
Louie’s Wine Dive: A newer addition to the Des Moines restaurant scene. Louie’s has been open here is Des Moines for 6-8 months or so. In this time, I have managed to visit here twice. The first time was with a visiting friend for some of their lobster poutine, deviled eggs, and of course wine. The second time was because of a Living Social deal we purchased which included a four course meal with wine. The staff has been welcoming and attentive on both visits. The scene at first didn’t seem very busy, but on the last visit it appears the word has got out. It is a nice place to get a drink after work with some friends and nosh on some of their tasty dishes. Louie’s is located on the end of a strip mall on the corner of University and 42nd Street next to Campbell’s Market. Conclusion: Solid. Good food, good wine, decent location.
Deets: Louie’s Wine Dive, 4040 University Drive, Suite A, Des Moines, IA
Saigon Cafe: Some lovely friends of mine purchased a gift certificate for Saigon Cafe for my birthday. They know I appreciate Vietnamese food and knew I wanted to try this place. I know that the food will never match what I had in Vietnam, but I do appreciate local restaurants who do a great job giving me a taste of the food I love. When we arrived I was pleasantly surprised with how much room there was in this restaurant. We were quickly seated at our pink tablecloth adorned booth. When I reviewed the menu I was also taken back by the range of items. They offer Chinese and Vietnamese dishes. I ordered a cà phê sữa đá (iced coffee), an chả giò (egg roll), and bánh xèo. I was elated to see the bánh xèo on the menu. The are often referred to as Saigon sizzling cake or crepes. They are a crispy, savory rice flour crepe filled with shrimp, pork, bean sprouts, and green onion with some turmeric. Served with lettuce, herbs, and a side of nước chấm (Vietnamese dipping sauce). The bánh xèo was just what I wanted. Hot, crispy, and plenty for one person. The cà phê sữa đá was great as usual, very strong, and refreshing. The chả giò was surprisingly decent. It was small, crispy, and actually had nice meat to veg ratio with an authentic taste. Conclusion: Go phở sure! The bánh xèo is worth the visit.
Deets: Saigon Cafe, 1945 86th Street, Clive, IA 50325
Cooper’s on 5th: We stopped here on a weeknight for dinner. Located next to Chisme in Valley Juction. Overall the restaurant isn’t that large, but supports 12 tables or so and a nice bar. The ambiance kind of reminds me of a speak easy with the bar and the exposed brick walls. There were $5 martinis on special this night so we took advantage of them and they were well executed. Chad ordered the Smoked Gouda Mac & Cheese with the bacon option. The Yelpers said this was a must try along with the raves about the Cajun Meatloaf. Neither one of us was in the mood for meatloaf, so I opted for the Pulled Pork Cuban Sandwich. The Mac & Cheese was delicious and the bacon was a must do. The addition of the pulled pork in the traditional Cuban sandwich was great. The smokey Cuban style pulled pork, crunch of the bread, and tang of the pickle made this a good choice to fill me up. Conclusion: Stop in for Happy Hour and then make it dinner.
Deets: Cooper’s on 5th, 227 5th Street, West Des Moines, IA 50265
Irina’s: A pleasant surprise for dinner. In all honesty I really didn’t know what to expect from Irina’s. I have driven by this restaurant several times, but have never stopped in. Walking in I was pleasantly surprised to see a really nice bar. We were greeted and seated promptly in the dining room. Our server was great and told us about the nightly specials. He also told us about drink options and the Imported Baltika beer from Russia. Unfortunately, I wasn’t feeling beer on this night, so I just went with a glass of Pinot Noir. We started with the calamari with a lemon thyme sauce. They were delivered hot and crispy. The sauce was tangy and complimented the calamari nicely. Chad ordered the Beef Stroganov – Black Angus Beef tips seared with onion, mushrooms, green pepper and garlic, tossed with Alfredo sauce over penne pasta. I opted for the Stuffed Chicken – chicken breast stuffed with chefs staffing, served with sautéed mixed vegetables and choice of side. Our entrees did take a while to be completed, but when they were ready the owner delivered them herself to your table. She asked thanked us and told us to enjoy our meal. The food was very fresh, flavorful, and simple. You could really feel and see that she just made this for you and wanted to ensure you enjoyed it. The next time I come it may be for a cocktail or two in the bar. It would be a great place for a few cocktails after work. Conclusion: A surprise. Try it. If not for dinner than at least for a drink at the bar or an imported Russian beer.
Deets: Irina’s, 2301 Rocklyn Drive, Urbandale, IA 50322
Namaste: I had big hopes for this place as I had heard from an acquaintance this was one of the better places in the city to eat Indian food. We arrived on a Tuesday night to find only two of the many tables occupied. We waited 5 minutes or so for someone to come and seat us, but no one came. We sat ourselves. After a few more minutes, the waiter did come out of the kitchen and brought us some menus. We ordered the Chicken Tikka Masala because that is usually a good pick to compare for a first visit, then we decided on the Aloo Gobi both medium. I also opted for a mango lassi. The Tikka Masala and the Aloo Gobi were both very good, but they were not great. The depth of flavor on the Tikka Masala was not present, usually I want to lick the bowl clean. Not this time. The Aloo Gobi was nice, but not earth shattering. The mango lassi was delicious. In my opinion, I don’t feel like the quality of the food was enough for me to give it a second shot with the barely existent level of the service. I don’t ask for much, but I would at least like them to pretend they want me to return and occasionally fill my water-glass. Conclusion: Go somewhere else.
Deets: Namaste, 7500 University Avenue, Clive, IA 50325