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Posted June 11, 2014in Food Dude

Nick’s finds its niche

Is it possible to move a restaurant without altering its character? Iowa café owners have been mulling that question for decades. In Des Moines, both Full Court Press and Orchestrate found success avoiding duplications, choosing instead to expand with completely new concepts. Orchestrate’s one exception — a second Gateway Market

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Posted June 04, 2014in Food Dude

G. Mig’s short order bliss

I recently participated in a “restaurant nomenclature” project for a food association. Among the distinctions discussed was that between a “bar and grill” and similar things such as a pub, gastropub or microbrewery. We argued about history, geography and beers but decided that a bar and grill needs to be

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Posted May 28, 2014in Food Dude

Cityscape solves the traveler dilemma

Hotel restaurants operate with conflicting ambitions. On one hand, most travelers want consistency and seek familiarity. But there are also an increasing number of travelers who want to taste the local flavors of places they visit. So, how does a hotel room keep everyone happy? One answer comes from an

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Posted May 21, 2014in Food Dude

Golden Triangle is something special

New noodle shops are dancing to the tunes of musical chairs. Embassy Club executive chef Michael Bailey has opened Noodle Boy downtown in the Riverwalk Hub specializing in pho (beef stock noodle soup) and banh mis (rice flour hoagies). Sam Auen announced that his Tacopocalypse will again move, this time

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Posted May 14, 2014in Food Dude

New Paradise Biryani is well named

I spent a year in India during the 1960s. That was a popular thing to do then. The Beatles, Jackie Kennedy and a few thousand hippies seeking enlightenment also tried it. Most went to the north of the subcontinent, to holy Benares and beautiful Kashmir. I went to Hyderabad, mainly

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Posted May 07, 2014in Food Dude

The Bass Pro Shop of steakhouses

“Don’t sell the steak, sell the sizzle.” That phrase, coined by Elmer Wheeler in the 1920s, urges salesmen to focus on the experience around a product rather than on the object itself. The idea is to appeal to the senses and emotions of the customer. The phrase made a comeback

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Posted April 30, 2014in Food Dude

New café charms Orchestrate’s restaurant lineup

A basic tenet of good messaging is rarely heeded in these days of abundance and excess: What’s left out is as significant as what’s included. Malo, a new Hispanic-American-themed restaurant in the historic Des Moines Firehouse, has covered up all traces of fire poles, making it clear that this place

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Posted April 23, 2014in Food Dude

Eatery-A, the new star on Ingersoll

When I began writing about the Des Moines’ food scene in the 1980s, Ingersoll was dominated, west of Noah’s, by fast-food franchises and dive bars. A comeback began with the opening of Corner Café and accelerated with Zanzibar’s, Art House, Stam’s, Bistro Montage, Star Bar and Gusto. This week’s debut

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Posted April 16, 2014in Food Dude

‘Iowa’s largest buffet’ at China One

During the reign of Louis XIV, buffets reached decadent heights of conspicuous consumption. Alexandre-François Desportes painted a few of the Sun King’s more lavish party spreads before Louis’ gold and silver serving dishes had to be melted down to pay off his debts, which accelerated the French Revolution and the

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Posted April 09, 2014in Food Dude

Dining in the ruins

American restaurant history spins many tales of blind luck. In 1929, Malcom Nichols, the prudish mayor of Boston, Mass., banned Eugene O’Neill’s infamous play. “Strange Interlude.” Promoters moved the five-hour show to downtown Quincy, across the street from a new restaurant built by ice-cream man Howard Johnson. Since the long

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