The Beerhouse — the latest sports bar on 86th8/19/2015
“How many of these different kinds of bars have you been to?” asks a social media survey. There were 27 choices — full bars, wine bars, neighborhood bars, dive bars, fern bars, singles bars, women’s bars, gay bars, lesbian bars, brew pubs, topless bars, tapas bars, English pubs, drag bars, biker bars, cop bars, college bars, salsa bars, karaoke bars, blues bars, rock bars, country western bars, dance bars, strip clubs, comedy clubs and sports bars. To my surprise, greater Des Moines seems to be well represented in all categories, with several crossovers.
Certain types of bars thrive in some zip codes but not others. Downtown is the domain of diversity. The south, east, west and north sides of Des Moines — plus downtown Urbandale and Valley Junction — are rife with neighborhood bars and dive bars. Strip clubs prefer the north side. No genre has found more fertile ground, though, than sports bars along one half-mile stretch of 86th Street to each side of Interstate 80 in Johnston and Urbandale. This strip supports a Legends, 1908 Draught House, an Okoboji Grill, Doc’s Lounge, The Cab and now The Beerhouse. This is a neighborhood where superb independents Jesse’s Embers and Mojo on 86th failed. It apparently requires lots of TVs for a restaurant to survive along 86th Street.
The Beerhouse Restaurant & Sports Bar replaces Overtime in the original Jesse’s Embers building. Nick Kuhn and Kristi Cobb, bought the business five months ago and recently changed the name and some menu items and aggrandized the beer menu. Thirty one craft beers and Budweiser on served on tap and 21 TVs grace walls with another 7 coming for football season. All sports packages except UFC boxing are available . Draught beers included local offerings from Exile and Confluence, but some menu beers were not available. When friends pouted about that, they expected suggestions, and/or samples, of similar beers. That never happened, and orders were switched to water.
Staff was also still in learning modus about the “sports bar” part of the name. One day a group of friends dropped in to watch a game. Although there were numerous TVs everywhere the eye could look, none were actually tuned into a live game. When we requested the channel be changed, we were told, after a lengthy wait, that no one on staff knew how to change a channel.
Fortunately the “restaurant” part of the name is doing just fine, as one would expect with former Raccoon River Brewing Company chef Bryan Manning running things. A fish and chips order delivered a large, divine piece of hand battered cod, with crisp fries, lightly dressed coleslaw, tartar sauce and malt vinegar. While not quite up to the level of the fish, hand-breaded pork tenderloin used an appropriately different batter, and a thick piece of lean loin. It was served on a toasted and buttered Kaiser roll. A burger was similarly served on a perfectly toasted bun. It was the best I have tried on 86th Street, with prime rib burger and a choice of several cheeses, other meats, onions and peppers. A disturbing trend continued here. All burgers are priced with all those extras included whether one wants them or not. A side of potato salad was so lightly dressed with vinegar that it seemed more like a side of plain cubed potatoes.
Little deft touches were impressive. Gyros (in wraps or sliders) were well seared. Fish tacos were made with blackened tilapia. Giant pretzels were served with cinnamon butter. Wings were made with duck instead of chicken. Chicken and waffles are served with maple syrup.
Former Luna owner and Holiday Inn Downtown’s food and beverage director Kris Van Tuyl is the new manager of Django… Tacopocalypse owner Sam Auen has reset the opening of his Crust Punk Pizza for mid-September. He’s also opening a Tacopocalypse in Iowa City. CV
Beerhouse Restaurant & Sports Bar
4810 86th St., Urbandale, 278-1821
Mon. – Fr. 11 a.m. – midnight, Fri. – Sat. 11 a.m. – 1 a.m., Sun, 9 a.m. – midnight