for the outskirts
Greenbriar recently marked its
20th anniversary in Johnston.
When Paul Trostel opened the place
in 1987, it was on “the outskirts
of town,” in the literal and the
Van Morrison-B.B. King-Warren
Zevon sense of that phrase. The
broke most of the rules about
what would fly in Des Moines.
Back then this was pretty much
an all-Calabrese restaurant town.
Trostel believed that first courses
could offer “more than shrimp
cocktails and garlic bread” and
that the town would support an
upgraded wine cellar. Since then,
Greenbriar has been key in establishing
a food identity here. I’m often
asked to play concierge for out
of town visitors looking for distinctive
dining experiences; I recommend
several places. The most thanks
I hear come from the people who
went to the Greenbriar.
In late November, 71 people
who had eaten at Greenbriar came
down with a food borne norovirus.
That was a small fraction of more
than 1,000 who reported contracting
the virus to the Iowa Department
of Public Health that week, but
media coverage stigmatized the
restaurant. Even after state inspectors
found the kitchen clean and safe,
the linkage had done some damage.
Trostel said that December business
was down $80,000 from the previous
year and January business was
down half that much. He also believes
it would have been worse in most
other places. He thanked some
200 loyal customers recently with
a little party.
“They knew we were hurting and
that’s why they came out to help.
That’s the kind of place Iowa
is, people still care about their
neighbors here,” he explained
with something resembling tears
in his eye. Old cowboys don’t
We found more bittersweet reasons
to return to the Greenbriar. When
Perry’s Hotel Pattee closed, many
of the best farmer-vendors in
Iowa lost their main customer.
Greenbriar chef Troy Trostel picked
several of those plums. He’s now
using a naturally raised lamb
from Jefferson that has impressed
gourmets and chefs from coast
to coast. He’s also lined up the
Pattee’s fresh greens supplier.
He’s long shared the same elk
ranch. That news was enough to
get me to order something other
than prime rib, which has to be
the most popular in Iowa.
More good news comes to the
suburbs. The Market at Jordan
Creek (MJC) looks to be on schedule
for their grand opening on March
21, the first day of spring for
symbolism. The store could change
the way Des Moines shops, especially
in concert with similarly conscientious
grocery stores opening soon in
Sherman Hill and on Court Avenue.
MJC might also change the way
suburbanites eat lunch. Store
Manager Troy Bond teased us with
a glimpse of their 40-foot-long
deli case, wood-burning pizza
ovens and in-house gelato creamery.
The deli will use Boar’s Head
as the house sandwich meat and
will have the likes of La Quercia
prosciutto and Niman Ranch hams
as call brands. There will be
some 200 wheel-cut cheeses and
over 20 kinds of olives, plus
salads as cosmopolitan as tabouli,
hummus and pickled seaweed, which
is to say there will be sushi.
Bond previously managed the
Central Market in Austin, the
nation’s best grocery stores to
my mind. That is where he met
the Paciugo family of gelato makers
from Turin, whose recipes will
be used at MJC. They opened their
first shop outside Italy earlier
this decade in Texas. This will
be their second shop in the Midwest,
joining the region’s ultimate
foodie town — Madison.
(Editor’s note: Just as Cityview
went to press, Troy Bond announced
he was no longer with the Market
at Jordan Creek.)
Troy Trostel’s former sous chef
Scott Bailey is executive chef
at AJ’s, Prairie Meadows’ fine
dining establishment. AJ’s has
more state of the art restaurant
trappings than any place in Iowa
history and foodies are raving…
Iowa Soybean Association has eight
$2,000 scholarships for high school
seniors seeking a degree in agriculture
or ag-related fields. Deadline
is March 1. Call (800) 383-1423…
The Iowa Egg Council’s Egg Cooking
Contest calls for original recipes.
Prizes are up to $500. Deadline
is March 1. Call (877) 469-2344.
Finals will be March 31 at the
Botanical Center. CV
By Jim Duncan CVFDude@aol.com
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