One sure-fire event is Restaurant Week here in Des Moines. It started yesterday (the 16th) and runs through August 25th. The website is: http://www.desmoinesrestaurantweek.com/ You can also enter a drawing for a trip for two in Sonoma County. I know I’ll be entering the contest.
Diners are supposed to pay $25 for two lunches or $25 for one three-course dinner. Last year, at least one restaurant violated that rule but it was apparently suffering from some management issues and closed shortly afterwards. Gift cards were offered to the victims. You can’t beat that price if you visit some of the higher-end restaurants. Good bets based on past experience or likely quality to value ratios include 801 Chophouse (!) Alba, Baru 66 (sells out quickly), Bistro Montage, Cafe di Scala, Flemings, Lucca, Splash, and Sbrocco, but at $25 a plate for dinner you can hardly go wrong. Getting anything for $25 at 801 or Flemings is rare, so if you could never afford to darken those doors, I’d recommend those options. I also see that Prairie Canary Restaurant & Bar in Grinnell is participating. I’ve got that on my list as well. This is where Carly Groben ended up after selling Proof.
After starting the week at Cafe di Scala, I’d say that the week is off to a good start for me. Anthony Lemmo clearly “gets” restaurant week serving generous portions and offering several choices. In fact, I am pretty sure I saw people leaving with large doggy bags. That is the spirit! When restaurant week began, some restaurateurs saw it as more of a threat to the bottom line than an inexpensive way to get a lot of new people in the door. Consequently, some portions were what I call “French style.” You know, when your dinner plate looks like it has nothing but the garnish. Well, that has become less of a problem.
As evidence, here are some pictures from my visit to Cafe di Scala:
Zupa, with carmalized onions, marsala and garlic soup with olive oil crostini, romano and parsley
Crostini: toasted south union ciabatta wtih basil pesto asiago, red onion and garlic-fennel marinated tomatoes
Linguine: handmade pasta tossed in a pinot bianco & shallot cream sauce with roasted fennel, tomatoes & garlic sausage
Pollo: italian cheese stuffed and prosciutto wrapped chicken breast with polenta cakes & sauteed vegetables
Panna cotta: vanilla flavored cream pudding with basalmic marinated strawberries and mint
Torte: flourless chocolate cake over a caramel & almond brittle with whipped vanilla cream
Here is a shot of the menu:
All in all, I’d say this was a great way to break my 6-month blogging reverie.