“Honey, let’s have a nice dinner at the downtown Holiday Inn!” If you are not on a budget and can have the choice of any restaurant in Des Moines, those words might be met with skepticism. But Cityscape Lounge is no ordinary hotel restaurant. First and foremost, Cityscape’s menu was developed by one of my favorite Des Moines area chefs, Kris Van Tuyl. Kris loves cooking great meals and he loves leaving the kitchen to meet his guests. He was most recently running his own well-regarded Luna Bistro in the East Village. Tacopocalypse is now in that space. I am really glad to see that he has taken the helm of Cityscape. The second reason that restaurant is anything but ordinary is the fantastic city view. Park yourself along the broad south-facing windows and the entire Des Moines skyline is laid out in a tableau that no other restaurant can offer. That view, and the rest of the restaurant, is largely the result of more than a million dollar renovation that included taking down a wall that was blocking a fantastic skyline view of Des Moines.
It has been said that if you want good food, find a restaurant without a view. But that isn’t true here. While Chef Van Tuyl has had to make a few concessions for the regular budget-minded travelers, the menu selections reflect many of the features that made his food at Luna Bistro so amazing and fun to enjoy. We were not the only people in the restaurant that evening who were there because of Kris Van Tuyl’s reputation — three of the four tables of guests that had arrived for the early dinner shift were obviously past fans of Luna Bistro.
Come for the view but stay for the food. Prices are what you might expect for a white table cloth (black in this case) restaurant in Des Moines. Portions are actually much larger than Luna Bistro would normally serve, in keeping with the commercial expectations of a lot of travelers. I didn’t see any of the more daring dishes, and I’m told that the current menu is a slight retrenchment of the first menu’s offerings. But it gets the job done and in my opinion the food is better here than at Django or Centro.
The chicken scallopini was hands down the favorite at my table. It was moist and immensely flavorful. The sauce was just amazing. The flatiron pork was also very good, and was served nearly fork-tender with what I took to be a garlic butter sauce.
I hope with the upcoming “political season” in Iowa that Cityscape will get the added exposure that it deserves from the national press corps when they descend on Iowa. There is a bar at the west end of the expansive dining area. It was packed the night I visited and even had a Texan in a ten-gallon hat holding forth on one end of the bar. It looked like everyone was having a great time. So, put aside any low expectations you might have of a restaurant associated with a chain hotel and give Cityscape a try. Let me know if you are not as satisfied as I was.
Holiday Inn Downtown at Mercy Campus
1050 6th Avenue
Des Moines, IA 50314
Phone: (515) 283-0151
Fax: (515) 288-1339