Welcome to Finger Food, a new Des Moines Register online dining column.
I’m Elle Wignall, the Des Moines Register’s dining reporter. I’m always thinking about my next meal and hunting for innovative dishes and drinks all over town. With my ear constantly to the ground looking for the best dining experiences to share, I wind up collecting lots of good, but bite-sized, food news.
Nothing is off limits: Read on for food and beverage events and awards, menu changes, whispers of new restaurants, odd and delightful culinary finds, what I’m hearing from sources in the industry and more.
Bookmark this page and stop by weekly for nibbles of news from the dining scene. And send your restaurant and bar news my way at [email protected]
April 14: Fish Fries, bubbly highballs and a lot of pork butt in Des Moines
A new place to party from Django in Des Moines
In May, French bistro Django starts serving private parties of up to 100 in a new offsite banquet facility. Don’t worry, you won’t have to go far: The facility, dubbed The Reinhardt Room, is located next door to Django at 1430 Locust St., across from the Pappajohn Sculpture Park. The former Bistro Nomad space features a full bar and on-site kitchen.
“Having that dedicated space really allows our chef team to branch out,” Derek Eidson, Django co-owner and executive chef said in a press release. “While we know The Reinhardt Room will be a hit for private dining clients, we’re already starting to plan new events for the room, including chef dinners, wine and beer tastings and more.”
The room takes its name from Django Reinhardt, a gypsy jazz performer.
In fact, tickets are for sale online now for a Funk Factory Beer Dinner in the space on April 21. The dinner features Levi Funk, founder of Funk Factory Geuzeria out of Madison, Wisconsin, who will pair his beers with Eidson’s food.
More:Want in on secret spots to have fun in Des Moines? We’ve got a newsletter for that.
300 Burger serves a new breakfast on weekends
Newcomer 300 Burger is now serving breakfast on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon. The burger joint, located at 300 W. Martin Luther King Jr. Pkwy., Suite 170, added a menu with classic breakfast favorites ahead of opening day of the Downtown Farmers Market, May 7. Split into egg combos, cakes/biscuits/toast and hash and stuff, the menu includes breakfast sandwiches and burritos, biscuits and gravy and omelets. The restaurant opened late last year.
More:300 Burger is your next stop for an all-beef, no-frills, hefty hamburger the old-fashioned way
Pulled pork winner Starbeck’s Smokehouse can measure its popularity in pork butt
The Iowa Pork Producers Association wrapped up its March Pulled Pork Madness competition, naming a Cedar Falls restaurant the champion. Starbeck’s Smokehouse, 6607 University Ave., Cedar Falls, took the title with its unique spin on the pulled pork sandwich. After roasting seasoned pork butts over cherry, hickory or oak wood for 12 hours, owners Jeff Starbeck and Cindy Herman shred it between two slices of San Francisco sourdough and encourage diners to top it with the restaurant’s homemade barbecue sauce. The pulled pork is so popular, Starbeck’s goes through 1,000 to 1,200 pounds of pork butts a week to meet demand.
Bubbly highballs at Royal Mile and Ken’s
There’s a new way to get your drink on at The Royal Mile and Ken’s — A Not So Secret Speakeasy. Both bars added a House of Suntory Highball Machine that boasts five times the carbonation of regular soda water along with managed temperature control. The bars hope the addition of the machines will contribute to a faster customer experience and creative summer cocktail ideas. The Royal Mile, 210 Fourth St., is serving the Suntory Whisky Toki highball, and Ken’s, 215 E. Third St. #100, has a Jim Beam highball.
“We really think Des Moines is going to enjoy this Champagne-like whisky soda,” Jeff Bruning, owner at Full Court Press, said in a press release. “It’s a great way to shake up your classic low-calorie cocktail, with a bit more fizz and flavor.”
Don’t miss: Lua Brewing’s Fish Friday
Lua Brewing‘s final Fish Friday is on April 15, and the brewery is serving a classic: Halibut fish and chips. The taproom, 1525 High St., opens at 11 a.m. Supplies are limited, so start your Friday plans early with a belly full of fish.
More:Here are 7 fish fries to try on Friday nights in metro Des Moines for Lent
Come back next week for more nibbles from around the city. Have you heard about something fun happening in Des Moines dining or just want to chat about food? Send tips and tidbits to [email protected].
March 17: Remodeling, reinventing, reopening, oh my!
Originally published in the March 17 Off Hours entertainment newsletter.
Charlotte’s Kitchen opens in Johnston
Johnston’s Charlotte’s Kitchen is open for dine-in service. The chicken sandwich food-truck-turned-restaurant did a full remodel, adding a new ceiling, new flooring, locally handmade wood tables, a custom mural and the brand new Grandma’s Pantry. It’s stocked with Iowa-made food products and all proceeds from pantry purchases will go to different nonprofits each month.
Secret Admirer is starting brunch
Secret Admirer is starting a Super Secret Brunch Club that will run every Saturday this summer from May 7. Owner Nick Tillinghast told me the elusive brunch will partner with local food and coffee businesses to bring brunch to SA.
Centro is getting a facelift after 20 years in business
Orchestrate Hospitality’s Italian restaurant Centro is remodeling. Marketing director Adam Bartelt told me the space is getting a facelift to mark 20 years of business and adjust to the reality of changing dining patterns in the COVID era. Renovations include a reconfigured entry and new flooring and lighting. While renovations should be complete at the end of the week, the restaurant is open for dine-in in the private dining room. You’ll have to skip the pizza though — the coal-fired ovens are getting a deep clean.