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By Jim Duncan Reviews

Lemon soufflé pancakes with toasted pine nuts and blueberry sauce.

BOS — an American dream story

BOS opened this April in the Renaissance Savery Hotel. Both the hotel and restaurant are owned by Christian Hotel Owners Association (CHOA), a chapter in the story of the American dream. The Chan Soo Cho family was unemployed in 1992 when their prayers led them to jobs in a California motel, as maids and manager. Within four years, Cho bought the first of 13 motels in his group. The Renaissance Savery represents CHOA’s next phase, upgrading their brand. Extraordinary attention has been paid to detailing the restaurant, which opens dramatically to the lobby through a satin draped stage window that allowed live jazz in both areas. That openness fostered unusual cooperation — a bell hop bussed tables during one restaurant rush. Art Deco hard wood furniture provided style with substance. Stunning French Modernist light fixtures played counterpoint to a Neo Classical wall frieze by Tom Moberg. To harmonize those disparate styles, TJ Moberg created a surrealist print series that incorporates both classical and Deco motifs. In one, the restaurant’s cylindrical chandeliers float over an Italian Renaissance cityscape.

Similarly, chef John Andres (Wakonda Club) marries Iowa comfort foods with classical and modernist notions. Andres is promoting as many Iowa products as anyone in town and says he wants more, especially produce. A few menu items serviced Midwestern clichés about maximization — Cheese sauces abounded, even “de Burgo” included a blue cheese sauce that overwhelmed its Templeton Rye deglaze; signature corned beef hash was covered with sausage gravy; buttermilk mashed potatoes tasted more like cheese than potatoes.

More restrained recipes produced distinguished plates. Wonderful lemon soufflé pancakes were served simply with raspberries, blueberries and raspberry syrup. A remarkable miso chicken soup blended chicken and soy paste stock with subtle chilies. Pan seared walleye was lightly breaded seared with bacon and served with capers and lemon sauce. Risotto was smooth as good Parmesan cheese, crunchy as perfectly cooked arborio and scented with truffle oil. Crisp risotto cakes added additional textures. Sweet corn with jalapenos, and scallops with prosciutto were both simple pairings of complementary flavors. Baby carrots were caramelized so perfectly that I began requesting them as a substitute.

There were kinks. Prime rib was beautifully coated in aromatics and served perfectly rare, as ordered. However, it was freakishly tough to chew — fibrous to the point that I couldn’t swallow a single bite. Corned beef brisket in breakfast hash had the same problem. Toast was not warm enough to melt whipped butter. Garnishes were almost completely absent — not even a pickle slice with a reuben. A “house special” meatloaf was unavailable on both occasions I tried to order it. A pork tenderloin was simply average, making me dream of those sold on Army Post Road for half the price. House made potato chips tasted less than fresh.

Desserts were fabulous, especially blueberry foster — three giant crepes filled with mascarpone, flambéed in butter, brown sugar and rum and covered with a blueberry reduction and slightly cooked berries. A bread pudding with praline caramel was moist with sweetness. Cheesecake on a stick was a delightful homage to the state fair — covered in dark chocolate and nuts. Wines ranged from $15 to $149 with 38 available by the glass. A full bar touted Iowa products Templeton Rye whiskey, ClearHeart rum, gin and vodka and Cedar Ridge grappa, brandy and limoncello. Special concessions to dieters included cauliflower hash browns, high fiber-low carb French toast and an all meat and eggs breakfasts. Buffets were available for breakfast and lunch.

Bottom line — BOS is an artistic gem that shows off the best Iowa foods and drinks.

Side Dishes
Blue Gate Farms’ organic status was restored. Last year a careless crop duster polluted their fields… Carly Groban is now owner/chef at Proof… Country Club Market Cooking School (987-5957) offers a Father’s Day special June 10 and 17. Dads are half-priced and walnut stuffed beef tournedos headline the menu. CV

401 Locust Street
Breakfast Mon. - Fri. 6:30 a.m. - 10 a.m., until noon on weekends; Lunch daily 11a.m. - 2 p.m.; Dinner daily 6:30 p.m. - 10 p.m.

Food Dude Reviews 2009 2008 Reviews ~ 2007 Reviews
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Florene’s (02-26-09) Fourth Street T (03-05-09)
Supreme Bakery (03-12-09) Town Hall Tavern (03-19-09)
Namaste India (03-26-09) Cornelius’ Cache (04-02-09)
Ruby Tuesday (04-09-09) New World on S.W. Ninth (04-16-09)
Chuck’s — tavern style pizza (04-23-09) OverTime and Coach’s Pizza (04-30-09)
Cochon 555 (05-07-09) Pelican Club (05-14-09)
Wok in Motion (05-21-09) Two masters of one trade (05-28-09)

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