Half of The Giuseppe at East 14th Street
Tavern, 3418 East 14th St., 266-3446. Hours
are Monday through Friday, 8 to 2 a.m., Saturday
from 10 to 2 a.m. and Sunday from 11 to 2 a.m.
Reader tips took me around the metro last week
checking out a tavern legend, a super-sized
wine dinner and cynicism. Let’s start with the
latter matter. Chef George Formaro hosted a
forum at his Django restaurant to address anonymous
social media attacks against him for: 1.) his
experiments with vegan diets and 2.) Django’s
use of foie gras. Facebook and Twitter users
have apparently revived dormant account names
to post derogatory messages and Photoshopped
pictures superimposing Formaro’s face on the
bodies of people torturing animals. He was also
dubbed with the hash tag “fakevegan.”
Ironically, Formaro has never claimed to be
a vegan and has probably provided the most comprehensive
vegan-friendly menus of any fine dining restaurants
in town at Django, Centro and Gateway Market
Café. He even carries multiple vegan wines.
(To keep wines from becoming cloudy, wine makers
“fine” them with animal products such as bone,
shrimp shells, egg whites and dried fish bladders.
Vegan wines substitute things like carbon, limestone
and clay.) Formaro also provided a Power Point
presentation of photos he made from La Belle
Farms, his foie gras provider and one he believes
raises ducks more humanely than others. They
are never caged, nor fed hormones or vaccines.
Their feeding tubes appeared considerably less
intrusive than others that have been distributed
in media. Formaro served vegan grinders. Some
attendees ordered Django dogs and Rossini burgers,
both of which include foie gras. I don’t recommend
pairing them with the vegan grinders.
Tip No. 2 took me to the East 14th St. Tavern
where an extra large parking lot included a
motorcycle-only section, multiple grills and
a smoker. Inside, the walls and ceilings were
completely covered with signs and witticisms.
A surprising number of homemade items were prepared
in a relatively small kitchen. Servings were
big, too. The smallest burgers included a third
of pound of beef. Tenderloins overlapped their
buns. Graziano’s sausage sandwiches and grinders
were the opposite of vegan. Tacos were so large
they would be illegal in New York City. All
pizza was homemade. An appetizer menu included
most of the industry’s best sellers. A $10 steak
dinner is featured every Tuesday night and nearly
every item on the menu is steeply discounted
at least once a week.
I visited though, for a legendary sandwich that
is offered only once a month (on first Tuesdays)
and only until it sells out. I got the last
one this month at 1 p.m. The Giusepppe’s reputation
is well deserved. It’s made with equal parts
of capicola, mortadella, garlic sausage, provolone,
swiss and roasted peppers on a grilled piece
of South Union foccacia.
Tip No. 3 took me to a West Lakes’ Hy-Vee Club
dinner. These regular events are too big for
even the largest Hy-Vee in the metro. They pack
folks into the Spring Hill Suites as 148 showed
up for a dinner with wines from Edna Valley,
a small appellation in San Luis Obispo County
that is endowed with a dramatically cool microclimate.
My $30 dinner included eight glasses of wines,
some of which are normally only sold at the
winery. Chef Alex Strauss paired each with a
dish including: crab cake with a corn soup shooter;
shrimp skewers with fried rice; pan-seared salmon
in pinot noir reduction with cous cous; pork
loin with shitakes reduced in Cabernet with
polenta; a cheese course that included a blue
mousse and an aged chevre from Midnight Moon;
and a chocolate tart with cherry sauce. Attendees
who could drive to the supermarket after dinner
could buy sampled bottles at deep discounts.
The next such event is Aug. 1-2. Make reservations
at the store.
Whole Foods opened their first Iowa store,
in West Des Moines… Jethro’s opened their fourth,
in Ankeny. CV