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Food Dude

Sept 8 , 2011
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Restaurants, bars and bureaucrats

By Jim Duncan
CVFDude@aol.com
Twitter.com/foodude

The Fatty Italian beef at Gas Lamp, 1501 Grand Ave., 280-3778. Hours are 11 to 2 a.m., daily.

25th Street Pub, 509 E. 25th St., 266-6885. Hours are Monday through Friday, 11 to 2 a.m. and Saturday and Sunday, 10 to 2 a.m.

Kelly's Little Nipper, 1701 E. Grand Ave., 265-2031. Breakfast is served Monday through Friday, 6 to 10 a.m., Saturday, 8 a.m. to noon and Sunday, 9 a.m. to noon. Regular menu is served until 2 a.m.

Capital Pub & Hot Dog Co., 400 S.E. 6th St., 2HOTDOG, food available from 111 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and 4:30 to 9 p.m., daily.

Players Sports Bar & Grill, 1760 Beaver Ave., 274-8639. Hours are 11 to 2 a.m., daily..

Chelsie Lyons is the kind of young entrepreneur that city leaders ought to be courting. She moved here from Colorado a year ago to start her own business at age 27. Our review found her Players Bar & Grill family-oriented, with "Kids Eat Free" promotions, fountain drinks like "Purple Cows," and a friendly small town vibe. One anonymous person disagreed though and complained to the city's Zoning Enforcement command center that Lyons was operating a tavern not a restaurant. Lyons' books showed that, despite all the free meals and $1 burger nights, 59 percent of her business was in food. Zoning czars were unimpressed and ordered Lyons to spend $6,000 on an agency approved, independent audit to disprove the still anonymous complaint. Lyons said she works 100 hours a week to make ends meet and believed that $6,000 could break her. After WHO reporter Aaron Brilbeck reported Lyons' predicament, his blog filled with viewers' conspiracy theories. They all made more sense than Zoning Enforcement's autocratic decision did. Sanity prevailed and the city backed off its audit demand.

When Brilbeck broke that story, I was preparing to write about new developments in good food being served in Des Moines bars. I didn't even consider Lyons' place because it doesn't resemble a bar. It's a restaurant that serves alcohol. Thankfully, Des Moines also has some bars that serve really good food. Places like Main Gate, Gerri's, Giff Wagner‘s and Euro Bar give our town character while reducing the number of drunken drivers, too. Their number has been growing this summer. Kelly's Little Nipper reopened with new ownership and new wood paneling. Its famous pool table and superb short order grill have returned. Super wide pork tenderloins and Italian sausage sandwiches, both with a choice of fries or hand-battered onion rings, were up to their old, high standards. Even better, Kelly's is now serving breakfast at 6 a.m. — a great tradition among east side bars.

Also under new owners, East 25th Street Pub has revived Liz's famous flat-top grill. Super wide, expertly seared Graziano's sausage sandwiches and burgers were served on old-fashioned soft Italian bread. How good are they? Babe Bisignano used to go there for lunch.

Capital Pub & Hot Dog Company opened on the East Village's southeast fringe. This brand new pub in an historic building had the vibe of a long-standing neighborhood joint. Klement sausages were employed creatively. A Mobayashi delivered a tempura-battered, quarter-pound sausage with spicy mayo, cream cheese, cucumbers and wasabi. A pickle spear and homemade chili (more like Maid Rite than Coney Island chili) topped my coney. Creativity went too far — mustard decorated buns made them too messy to handle. For extreme eaters, there was a sandwich that mixed two half-pound dogs with two half-pound beef patties and half a pound of thin sliced sirloin.

Finally, Gas Lamp, a glorious restoration of the old Blues on Grand, is now open for lunch, serving Fatty's Big Beef — the same Chicago style Italian beef sandwiches that Fourth Street Italian Beef has made popular. They were served with a choice of hot, mixed or mild giardiniere and a choice of wet, super wet or soaked in au jus. They could also be ordered with Graziano sausage added.

Bottom line — Good food is not evil in bars, nor in restaurants.

Side Dishes

Bill Clinton adopted a vegan diet… Uncle Wendell was told his barbecue wasn't healthy enough for downtown's mid-week farmers' market. CV



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