Monday, September 27, 2021

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Start and end your day at Sidebar


Chef Andrew Havlovic shows the hideaway bar inside the newly opened Sidebar in Capital Square.

Chef Andrew Havlovic shows the hideaway bar inside the newly opened Sidebar in Capital Square.

Less than two weeks after its opening in the Capital Square building downtown, Sidebar is still working out all the details that come with a new business. At press time, the lunch menu has yet to be established, for example. But the absence of lunchtime sandwiches is hardly noticed, thanks to all the other offerings chefs Mike Holman and Andrew Havlovic have brought to Capital Square.

Guests in the downtown Des Moines area can stop by Sidebar for a cup of coffee and breakfast, ranging from freshly made sandwiches to mouth-watering pastries and other bakery items. Dessert is Italian imported gelato that is worth every penny of the $3.50 price tag. And for afternoon snacks, meat and cheese plates are arranged so beautifully that a quick snap for Instagram is practically mandatory.

In fact, one of the most impressive things about Sidebar is its picturesque appearance. Every inch of the small restaurant is crisp and bright, from the walls and counters to the tables and chairs and floor-to-ceiling windows spanning two walls. It is full of modern touches that come together to make it the perfect setting for both morning and evening — an oxymoron by normal standards, but somehow it works here.

One of those modern features is the hideaway wet bar next to the kitchen door. Both doors blend into the wood-paneled wall behind the counters, creating a sleek backdrop for the bar when not in use. Two skinny doors open up and fold to slide back into the wall, exposing shelves of liquor and a sink while leaving valuable real estate available for the bartender.

Prep Iowa

It’s a small bar with mainly just the basics in stock — Patron, Absolut and Southern Comfort, to name a few — but local beers and wines are available, too.

The restaurant is open until 9 p.m. daily, leaving plenty of time for after-work cocktails, but it will also be staying open later during events at the Civic Center, which is just down the street. Sidebar will be perfect for pre-show drinks and appetizers and maybe even a nightcap if the mood is right.

Sidebar has hit a prime spot both for locals who work in the area and tourists staying at one of the nearby downtown hotels. It’s a welcome escape from the office and a change of pace from the regular hotel bar/restaurant.

Two Rivers Hospitality Group owns Sidebar and operates Big City Burgers next door, Dos Rios, Catering DSM and The Atrium at Capital Square as well. The company has done an excellent job in filling a range of needs with a creative idea: Sidebar can really act as anything a customer wants, whether that’s a quiet coffee shop, bright afternoon pick-me-up, modern meeting hub or quick cocktail stop. It plays up to each part perfectly, all without trying too hard.

While it may have a few more kinks to iron out, in its opening week Sidebar has already shown that what it does do, it does well. CV

400 Locust St., Suite 130, Des Moines
7 a.m. – 9 p.m., daily
(Open later on nights with Civic Center events)

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