Ever since it opened, I have tried to get a reservation at Baru sixty-six without success. That is my fault as I’ve only tried on the busiest weekends (or even Restaurant Week). But the other day we had skipped supper because of a late meeting and were headed to Windsor Heights for another late appointment, so we dropped by Baru 66 for supper. Being a weekday of no particular importance, there were only a few tables that were being served and we were seated immediately.
The ambiance of Baru 66 is definitely in the white tablecloth, low light category. The finish and design is very classy with some artwork on the walls that show scenes of small French cities that have a queer and possibly intentional resemblance to 1900s Des Moines. There was just enough light to read the menu and no more. The service was ultra-professional. My waiter was an experienced veteran displaying an easy confidence that put me at ease. I like the ambiance much better than that of Sage, which previously occupied this location on the corner of 66th and University in the heart of old Windsor Heights. The temperature was just right and the music was tasteful and not so loud that you couldn’t hear anything. Well done.
Baru 66 is described as offering real French cuisine, though I would describe the entrée menu as totally approachable. In a nod to the economic realities of the Des Moines diners, there is plenty available for the meat and fish lovers. The “French” aspect of the restaurant still pops up everywhere else on the menu and in the finishing touches and sauces used with the meat and fish entrées.
You know that you are in for a different sort of dining experience when the course begins with an asparagus mousse with blood orange zest pots du creme. It comes in a charming little glass container and is as decadent as it sounds. It was a perfect way to start a meal. We both ordered soup instead of a salad. Normally I don’t order soup, but this is a French restaurant, after all, so we ordered soup. The soup was carrot with ginger and testified to the chef’s skill at making a very nice soup without moving into the cloying category that soup can find itself in if the ingredients are not fresh or use too much salt.
I ordered seared salmon with oxtail ragout. I’d never guess that salmon and oxtail could be served together to make such a wonderfully complementary dish. The oxtail was prepared in a sauce that oozed an umami taste. The salmon was expertly prepared and was soft, hot, and moist. My dining partner chose the duck breast with winter vegetables and potato puffs. The potato puffs I stole off her plate were quite fun.
The wine list is expensive for bottles and I failed to study it properly, but I learned the hard way that you might be money ahead to order a bottle. By-the-glass prices are a bit steep, in the $9 to $13 category, with the classics in the more expensive territory. The white wine glasses are on the small side, so be aware of that when ordering. Three $13 glasses between the two of us and we might as well have ordered a bottle and enjoyed ourselves.
We were too stuffed (I blame the soup–it was a fair amount of soup) to try the desserts, but next time I’ll skip the soup, buy a bottle of wine, and check out their crème brûlée. I did not ask if they have a corkage fee. I will also hopefully have more time to enjoy the meal. This is not a restaurant that makes any effort to push people out the door so they can meet their seating quota for the evening.
I was quite impressed with Baru Sixty-Six. The ambiance at Baru Sixty-Six beats Bistro Montage unless you like the more authentic “bistro” feel of Bistro Montage. Baru Sixty-Six is a top-shelf dining destination if you just like great food and service, want to have a nice quite romantic dinner, or are trying to keep some picky but important customers happy. I recommend it without hesitation.
Since most people will google Baru 66 instead of Baru Sixty-Six, I’m typing this here for you folks. The web page has a graphic and the address, telephone number and e-mail address. That is it.
6587 University Ave.
Windsor Heights, Iowa