Exile on Walnut Street9/28/2012
EBC is already drawing people who want to show off Des Moines to outsiders. Their first two beers are dramatic. Hannah Weiss is a bubbly, unfiltered beer with deep spicy flavors. Betty Blonde is an all-American pilsner that refuses to be simple and boring like most such blondes.
The menu is designed for beer drinking. Scotch eggs came in sausage coatings with red cabbage. Excellent pickled beet salad presented multiple kinds of beets with chevre, candied pistachios and arugula. Fried pickles were light and crisp. French onion soup, though, had a strange, salty stock, while beer cheese soup was badly scalded. Lamb sliders were delightful one time with a yogurt sauce and Feta. A second time they were overcooked and Feta had inappropriately become cheddar. A side of potato salad was delightfully made, German-style with bacon and a vinegar dressing. Herbed frites were very heavily seasoned.
Words have new meanings here. “Turkey confit” did not appear to be a confit at all but pulled meat from baked turkey legs, served with sweet potato gnocchi, kale and bacon. A German platter included soggy bottomed schnitzel, homemade sausage and red cabbage. “Shepherds pie” was made with overly dry beef. Fish and chips disintegrated on my plate — the first piece was crisp, the second soggy and the third so soggy its bottom batter melted away. The meat in my pork belly “gyros” did not appear to have been crisped on a rotisserie and sliced at all.
Chocolate pudding stood out among desserts with marvelous cinnamon tones. Service was sometimes expert, sometimes uninformed and almost always slow. One time a tap had the wrong handle and hence dispensed the wrong beer.
Bottom line, Exile has a big-city ambiance that could be a source of pride. Food and service need to catch up to the brewery’s quality and to that of Tursi’s Latin King. CV
Alex Wellerstein’s “Beer and the Apocalypse” revealed that in 1956 government scientists exploded atomic bombs near beer and soft drinks to learn if they would be safe and flavorful after contamination. Double yes to those questions but no word on how long the taste testers lived. CV