You say Strudl Haus, I say Heaven

get-attachment-50.aspx get-attachment-58.aspxOne of our favorite Farmer’s Market vendors has set up shop on the South Side.  The Strudl Haus opened last month at 1951 Indianola Ave., near Principal Park in Des Moines.  And what an awesome addition to the area!  You can stop in for pastries or a latte to go or stay and enjoy some authentic Austrian cuisine for breakfast, lunch or dinner!

The prices are incredibly reasonable and the food is just terrific.  The have a base menu and then you can check out their Facebook page (here) for changing weekly specials like suppes, salats and schnitzel! Yum!  Here is an example of the menu from this week…

get-attachment-49.aspx 1797522_782215705199652_194431916243452403_nWhen we visited last, Josh enjoyed a dutch letter and along an omelet and I had the Austrian Breakfast which included a selection of meats and cheeses served with eggs and homemade jellies and bread.  Nathan had the nutella crepes which were fantastic and priced at only $4.50.  He’s been begging me for more since we left!

I definitely recommend checking out the Strudl Haus as soon as you can!  I mean like, right now…go for lunch…you won’t be disappointed!

Peace Tree Dinner at Le Jardin


get-attachment-7.aspxget-attachment-3.aspxWe were lucky enough to get a reservation for the wildly popular Peace Tree Beer dinner at Le Jardin on Monday. They originally scheduled just one dinner on Tuesday evening for the event, but quickly added another day as the first sold out.  I’m a big fan of Peace Tree and I’ve been itching to try this newish restaurant in the former Flarrah’s location in Beaverdale.  We went to a Peace


Tree dinner at Sbrocco a while back and it was great, so I was really looking forward to this for many reasons.


I’d heard nothing but good things about this new restaurant and this special dinner certainly did not disappoint.  The Peace Tree staff as well husband and wife owners Chef Tag and Megan Grandgeorge were exceptional hosts, chatting with each table and making sure each dish was explained and enjoyed.


Each meal was paired with a Peace Tree beer and included a beer as an ingredient in each meal.


They started with an amuse of pork pate with mustard and pickled onions and a petite brie toast with black berry preserves.  The pate was slightly overwhelmed by the vinegar flavor but the brie was lovely.

The first course was an awesome chipotle and cheddar broiled avocado and a tostada with chicken braised in the Kolsh beer.  Very nice and very creative.


The second course was a mixed green salad tossed with a sweet onion and No Coast IPA vinaigrette.  It worked really well and went nicely with the Hop Wrangler it was paired with.

The main course was Red Rambler braised beef short ribs (which were huge!), sour cream whipped potatoes (yum!) and roasted baby carrots.  The gravy stole the show in this dish.  It wasn’t overly salty and the  beer was apparent.  Really good.


Dessert was a cheesecake prepared by Sweet Binney’s bakery (I’ve never

get-attachment-10.aspxhad a bad dessert prepared by them), topped with a Black River Gumbo Stout-raspberry sauce.  Wow!  The tartness of the sauce was offset by the richness of the cheesecake and made for a fabulous dessert.  It was paired with the Imperial Stout which is 10% abv by the way!

From the service to the hospitality to the quality this was a great meal.  I hope to get back to Le Jardin very soon, especially since I hear the brunch is something special.  I look forward to more pairing dinners in the future from Peace Tree, hopefully at Le Jardin!


If you live anywhere near Des Moines, you’ve probably eaten at a Palmer’s Deli by now.

There are now locations in West Des Moines, Urbandale, Downtown, Ankeny and Ingersol Ave in Des Moines.

While I have always been a fan of their tasty soups, large salad selection and fresh sandwiches, what I’m most is excited about is that now most of their menu can be prepared gluten-free. Even the soups and sandwiches.

On my last visit I ordered the apple orchard sandwich on gluten-free bread and it included roasted turkey, provolone, granny smith apples and apple butter.  Yum!  They even had gluten-free cookies for dessert.
They also have spectacular egg salad which the hubby ordered.  Just fresh eggs, the right amount of Mayo and not too many fillers.  Awesome.
I will warn you that they get pretty busy during the lunch hour, so try to go when you can get there early or have a few extra minutes to wait in line.  Well worth the wait though.

You are sure to enjoy anything you order.  Make sure to try a brownie for dessert if you aren’t gluten-free…Ah-ma-zing!
Don’t forget about their breakfast!  The omelets are awesome and so is the Challah french toast!

Della Dolce Bakery

Today’s guest post is by my friend Christie who knows a good cookie when she tastes one!  Check out her experience at this brand new bakery and make plans to attend the Grand Opening for some samples!

Today’s guest post is by my friend Christie who knows a good cookie when she tastes one!  Check out her experience at this brand new bakery and make plans to attend the Grand Opening for some samples!

I had the chance to be one of the first customers at Della Dolce Bakery on their opening day yesterday!

This is the most beautiful bakery I’ve ever been in.  No surface was left untouched when turning this space into a cozy bakery.
Stop in the morning for a cup of tea or coffee and a scone, cinnamon roll, caramel roll, quiche, or turnover.  By afternoon they have dessert favorites such as cookies, cupcakes, pies, and tarts.  I had one of the chocolate chip cookies and it was DELICIOUS.  Crunchy on the outside, soft and gooey on the inside.
Owner, Catherine, also makes wedding cakes and caters other beautiful desserts for events.
Catherine is hosting her Grand Opening Ceremony on Saturday, November 2 from 5-8pm with the ribbon cutting at 6pm.  She will have light appetizers and samples sizes of menu items for everyone to try.
You can find Della Dolce Bakery at 13435, Suite 300 University Ave, Clive  IA 50325.  Phone: 515-330-2848.  Facebook:

The Hub

Pick up a pastry and coffee, eat lunch or have a glass of wine and dinner at an ultra-casual spot with some of the best views in town.

The Hub is locatedat 215 Water Street, just overlooking the Riverwalk downtown.  There is outside seating as well as inside and the views are lovely.  When we stopped in last week, they said they’d stay open during the winter months, but with reduced hours. Keep an eye on their Facebook page for changes.

The lunch menu wasn’t super extensive, but offered a nice selection of South Union Bakery sandwiches for about $6.50 and meat and cheese plates also reasonably priced at $6 for the cheese plate (shown in the photo below) and $9 for a meat and cheese plate.

The tomato bruschetta on the cheese plate was exceptionally good.  They were offering salmon, turkey and Italian sandwiches the day we were there.

Hope you can make it down to enjoy the patio and the views before the weather

stops cooperating!



Ritual Cafe

I had a great experience hanging out at Ritual Cafe the other morning.  I had some blogging to do, so I brought my computer, grabbed a few (gluten-free, woohoo) snacks and did some work.


downtown, right near Proof restaurant, Ritual Cafe serves up coffee, smoothies and even vegetarian food.  They had an awesome selection of vegan and gluten free pastries at the front

counter and I was super impressed with my gluten-free banana-chocolate chip bread and apple cider cupcake. Yes, I had to try both.  And they were out of pumpkin spice syrup, so I got a gingerbread-flavored iced coffee and it was really good!

They also offer a full menu of breakfast items like bagels, oatmeal, and a breakfast plate with eggs and toast.  For lunch they have panini’s, quiche, hummus plates and more.  They even have a kids grilled cheese sandwich meal available for kids.

What a cool place to hang out.  Of course it’s a great place for Vegans, but anyone can enjoy these healthy menu items and casual atmosphere.  I’ll be back to chat with a friend over coffee or use the free wi-fi to get some work done.

They also offer live music many nights of the week.  You can check the schedule here. Very cool.


Bang Bang

If you haven’t visited BangBang Mongolian Grill on Mills Civic in West Des Moines across from Red Robin, in a while, you might notice some changes.

If you haven’t been to BangBang before, it’s a lot like HuHot Mongolian Grill with some neat additions.  The main

meal is a meat and veggie station where you gather everything you want in your dish, pick your sauces and bring them to the grill to be cooked up right in front of you.

In addition to the grill items. they have soups, salads, appetizers you can order, a kids menu for kids who’d rather not do the grill, a chips

and queso station and a frozen yogurt bar.  The appetizers, kids menu, chips station and yogurt station are additional charges from the grill price.  The grill is around $12.99 on weekends and $10.99 on weekdays I believe.

They have $2 martinis on Monday nights and kids eat free on Tuesday night.  They also just began doing Sunday Brunch where in addition to everything they normally have they have an omelet station set up and buffet including breakfast items like egg casserole, biscuits and gravy, French toast, donuts and fruit.

The chips and queso station also had flour tortilla available to make fajitas from your grill items if you wish.  This station is an additional $2.49 to partake in, but that gives the whole table access for that one price.  It is actually a great deal for us because our picky 6 year old makes his whole meal out of tortilla and cheese and chips and we do not buy him a separate meal from that.

If you have a big appetite, come to BangBang, you’ll definitely get a bang for your buck since you can take as many trips to the grill as you like.

The frozen yogurt station is also set up pretty nicely with at least 30 toppings available all included in the $3.49 (ish) price

The only downside I’ve experienced is that you can go through the whole process of picking out

your items for you meal, picking out sauces and waiting for your meal to be cooked and then maybe not like what you picked.  The good part is that you can just go through the process until you find a combination you like.  The bad part is that you have to go through the process again until you find a combination you like.  Luckily they have lots of recipes posted above the sauce station so you can play it safe and follow those and you’ll usually come up with something you enjoy the first time around.

Granite City Brunch

There are a lot of great places for buffet brunch in Des Moines.  Some of my faves areThe Machine Shed, Americana and Hy-vee Grille at the new Waukee and Urbandale locations. I also just can’t keep myself away from the Sunday Brunch buffet at Granite City.  It is just so awesome.

I have dreams about the reggiano hash browns.  Seriously, dreams.  I’m a sucker for a cheesy-potato dish, but these take the cake.  I can’t even explain the sophisticated, sharpness of this flavor, you must try them yourself.

Ok, enough about the potatoes, the rest of the buffet is good too.  They offer an omelet station, prime rib station, fruit, eggs, waffles, great quality sausage links and thick cut slices of bacon.  They also have a lunch dish available on the buffet as well like a pasta or rice dish.  An all around great buffet.


And don’t forget about the impressive cinnamon rolls.  Always hot, fresh and addictive.

I don’t always love buffets for brunch, but everything they serve is great on this one.  It is definitely one of the more pricey in town at about $16 per person. Kids are a reduced price, but definitely a trip for a special occasion.  It does get pretty busy when folks get out of church.  We waited for a bout 45 minutes on out latest visit.  But the earlier you arrive the better.

They offer an all-you-can-drink mimosa or bloody mary special during the brunch as well and you can of course order off of the regular menu, but why would you want to?!  Just kidding, their regular menu of sandwiches, pizza, pastas, etc. is very good and a great option for lunch or dinner.  I just love the buffet!!


Mars Cafe

In my mind it had only been a few months since I had last visited Mars Cafe.  Mars Cafe is in the Drake neighborhood right across the way from the college.

In my grad-school days we’d often come over to the cafe for a snack and a coffee while studying like many other students do and it was really the coolest place around to hang out.

Well, unfortunately I realized that it’s now 2013, and I graduated from grad-school in 2008.  bwah-bwah……Fail.  It’s now been upwards of 5 years since I’ve last visited the cafe.  But the good news is, it’s gotten even cooler since then

I met a friend for breakfast and my has their menu grown!  From breakfast sandwiches like peanut butter and nutella and vegetarian wraps to breakfast quesadillas and more, this menu was awesome!  They carry paninis and other specialty sandwiches and lovely salads and snacks.  Awesome menu for a “coffee shop” type of cafe.  Of course they carry the caffeine-filled stuff, too. =)

Come in to the cafe to catch up with an old (or new) friend, get some work done or bring your little one in for a special breakfast.  This cafe is very welcoming, inexpensive (my quesadilla was $4.99), laid-back and tasty!  Try it!

Ankeny Cafe

I honestly didn’t know the Ankeny Cafe on Ankeny Boulevard (in Ankeny) even existed until last week!

We were making the trip up to Center Grove Orchard for some cider donuts and apples and thought we’d stop along the way for breakfast.  A quick google search came up with Ankeny Cafe so we decided to give it a shot.


What a nicely decorated place.  A little retro, clean and inviting.  Table or booth seating and lots of seating at the “bar” too.

We were pleasantly surprised by the whole experience.  Our server was maybe high school aged and very sweet and the owner kept coming by to check on us to make sure everything was right.


 The menu had your regular selection of diner breakfast items like french toast, omelets, pancakes, etc.  The prices were all very reasonable and our meals came out quickly.

I enjoyed the sausage omelet with a pancake substituted for toast at no extra charge.  My son and hubby enjoyed the french toast.  My son loved the generous amount of powdered sugar on his. The hash browns were definitely homemade and were very tasty.   The bacon was crispy and hot.  All around a good meal.

You aren’t going to find fancy-schmancy dishes here, but you are going to get good portions of good food at a reasonable price.  A great place to go for friendly service and a break from cooking at home.

They are also open for lunch offering your typical greasy-spoon favorites like tenderloins and burgers and fries.