The food business in the Jordan Creek area is so different from the inner city food business that one local restaurateur proposed a moratorium on new chains in the ’burbs and on new independents downtown. While a few excellent locals (Zombie Burger, Taste of New York, Wok in Motion) have successfully invaded the western suburbs, the balance is more overwhelming than ever. In the last couple years, two Indian chains with very similar names — Paradise Biryani Pointe (New York) and Persis Biryani Indian Grill (Ohio) — opened a few blocks from each other. My favorite explanation for this discrepancy is that chains are often in the real estate business as much as the restaurant business, and new suburbs — surrounded by young mortgages — promise to increase in value down the road.
I ventured back to this land of industrial food recently to check out a new supermarket from North Carolina and to retry an upscale sit-down restaurant from Florida. The Fresh Market on Mills Civic Parkway is not to be confused with the Fresh Market & Café in southern West Des Moines, Hy-Vee’s Fresh Market Grills or C Fresh Market in Des Moines. It looked like it had borrowed its business plan from Whole Foods. Its produce section particularly competed well with the aforementioned. However, its fresh fish section did not, looking smaller in variety and without the glistening freshness of Whole Foods or Waterfront. The meat also was a peg down from those stores and also from top Hy-Vee stores. Much attention was paid to prepared foods, with a seafood salad buffet included, but little was done to encourage in-house dining. Bargains could be found, but generally prices were high.
Half a block east of The Fresh Market sits Bonefish Grill, one of the West Glen area’s first restaurants. I had visited this Bonefish a few times, plus others in the chain, without feeling the place delivered much wow per dollar spent. I particularly had bad experiences with service. I hate it when entrees are served before appetizers are half eaten. I had also been upset by overcooked fish. Both problems still exist, but at least servers now apologize when it happens. Still, if one prefers that his or her fish not be cooked well done and dry, stick to Splash or sushi restaurants like Wasabi Tao, Wasabi Chi, Miyabi and Akebono 515.
A world wise teenager (aren’t they all?) complained that Bonefish didn’t offer bonefish, a popular target of fly fishermen in Florida. I was more upset with the meager offering of oysters (one menu item) and open ocean fish like pomfret, wahoo and opah. I never thought I’d find a seafood restaurant without clam chowder, but I did. A good corn-crab chowder compensated. The restaurant’s most famous dish is bang bang shrimp. Crustaceans were coated in starch, deep fried, then mixed with a sauce that tasted like mayonnaise, sweet chilies and hot chilies. They were as sweet as the Cantonese dish honey walnut prawns, even without honey. A popular weekend brunch offers these with eggs Benedict.
This dark (in the romantic way) restaurant specializes in wood-grilled fish and meats. I enjoyed some fabulous lamb chops, perfectly cooked rare. While swordfish is sliced too thin for my taste, ahi tuna was much thicker. Both mahi mahi and rockfish specials delivered fresh filets in sweet sauces of several fruits and vegetables. Seasonal spaghetti squash made a delightful side dish.
Side Dishes: The U Neighborhood Bar & Grill has opened in the former Victor’s Sports Bar on Douglas Ave. in Urbandale. New owners have updated the bar and added more pizza and burger offerings. Like Jethro’s in Johnston, Waukee and West Des Moines, this sports bar recognizes the local high school with a red, white and blue theme. CV
Jim Duncan is a freelance writer who has penned nine different columns for Cityview and its sister publications beginning in 1987.
650 South Prairie View Drive
West Des Moines, 267-0064
Mon.-Thurs. 4-10 p.m.; Fri. 4-11 p.m.; Sat. 11 a.m. – 11 p.m.;
Sun. 10 a.m. – 9 p.m.