801 Grand Prix Fixe Menu

Ok, So I’ve written about this once before, but it’s worth another mention.  801 Grand Chophouse.  Aptly located at 801 Grand Avenue in Des Moines, has this super awesome Prix Fixe menu only offered on Sunday evenings.  It’s not an every Sunday type of meal, but if you’re celebrating a special occasion, you are sure to wow the pants off your date, mom, brother, long-lost cousin (you get the point), etc. with this meal….

For only $36 (waaay back when I first moved to Des Moines about 11 years ago, the price was $25, but alas, we understand inflation), you get a choice of salad, choice of prime rib or filet Deburgo WITH two sides (a veggie and mashed potatoes) and a choice of sorbet or creme brulee for dessert.  This is a lot of food!  And the best value you can get at 801.  And don’t forget that you can still add one of their signature rubs (free) and sauces to your steak to glam it up a bit.  The cognac mushroom sauce ($4) is out of this world and makes the prime rib maybe the best thing I’ve ever tasted.  Their wine selection is of course phenomenal, but you can enjoy this meal and not have to spend extra on alcohol, though Rick thoroughly enjoyed his martini as well!

So like I said, this may not be in the budget for every Sunday night, but you have to give it a shot at least once.  Just look how happy we are after eating! =)


The Knotty Nail

Meet Becky!  She’s the
Owner/Operator/Mastermind behind The Knotty Nail. That’s right, it’s called “The Knotty Nail”, and it’s probably not what you’re thinking it is.  Becky hosts “Sips and Strings” workshops for adults, as well as workshops for children, birthday parties, bachelorette parties, team building meetings, etc., where groups get together and craft!  This is not one of those multi-level marketing sales things.  This is strictly for fun!

Becky is located here in the metro and does up to three parties a day!  She has gotten very popular in the short time she’s been operating and is continuing to grow!

The concept is pretty simple.  You volunteer to host a party and invite friends, family or co-workers, etc. and you provide some snacks and drinks.  She makes it super simple by providing you with your own party page where people can register online.  That’s all you have to do, and if you get at least ten people to join you, your project is free! Becky brings everything you need to make a really cool string art project.  It takes anywhere from an hour to three hours to complete depending on how fast you are or how much alcohol you are drinking during the party. =)

You start by nailing the design of your choice into a piece of wood (note to self, start drinking after this step next time) and then use string to bring your project to life.  She has some really awesome patterns, or you can make up your own like our friend did at my party on Sunday!  Hence the blacked out project in the photo that was a little less than PG-13.  But hey, it’s all good!  It’s great that you can personalize your art!

We all had a really fun time!  Becky is super sweet and is very attentive to each participant, making sure they are getting the nailing correct and will even help you with your project if you like.  There were definitely some times that almost everyone needed a little help, and that’s ok!

Anyone can do this.  Becky said she’s had participants what were in their 90’s!  She has easier projects for kids and you can see all of the designs she offers and how to host your own party on her website:  The Iowa with a heart design was the most popular design at our party, but I’m looking forward to attending another one to make more designs!  Host a party and invite me!  We are really excited about this new option for a fun crafting event in the metro. She even has drop-in events where she hosts events at public locations so you don’t need to round up people to get in on the fun.  Check it out!

DSM Social Club-Culinary Loft

4d8798b1-a361-4988-8e82-85fb67a122cb 1a81678b-f762-4fe6-a410-28b65b1ecf3cWe had a great time last week checking out our first class at the new(ish) Culinary Loft at the Des Moines Social Club.  The Culinary loft was specifically designed with the intention of hosting cooking classes and other food related workshops on the second floor of the Des Moines Social club.

The particular class we chose to attend was was a”South of The Border” class, and it was delicious! It was focused more on the fun of cooking a recipe together with your new friends (the other class attendees) and then sharing a meal together, then leaning about certain cooking techniques.  So it definitely helped break the ice when they broke out the endless wine right away.

9c62248a-8e20-4da5-bb72-ef881d33991f7873bf32-085f-4ada-b5aa-9e05efe3ec53After getting acquainted, we broke into groups and each group followed a recipe to prepare a course of the meal, and then we all got together to chow down.  Our class instructor came around to help with questions and give us tips. Some of the items we prepared were flank steak, beef stew, empanadas, and dulce de leche cookies.  Everything was delicious and a little more special because it was prepared with love…awwww.

They offer adult and children’s cooking classes at the loft in addition to all of the other great programing at the social club.  If you’re looking for something new and fun to try to spice up your date-nights or a new activity for you or your 4a484dd6-002d-4db7-82ed-80395abfd2ddkid to do, check out the programing at the social club (including 73770f0d-a8c4-4607-b374-ee4ee3cc991bcooking classes at the loft)!


Bonefish Grill

img_0022img_0024Being from Boston, I normally steer clear of seafood restaurants in the Midwest. The taste of fresh caught lobster and scallops just can’t be replicated this far from the ocean.

So when Bonefish Grill invited me in to try out their new fall menu, I thought it would just be okay.  Boy, was I wrong!  Bonefish has a location here in the metro in West Des Moines at the West Glen Shopping Center.

We started our mid-week date night visit to Bonefish with $3.50 glasses of Merlot, which were fantastic. We caught the tail-end of happy hour and got in on this sweet deal. And how cute are the Bonefish wine glasses?

img_0021Our, waitress, MacKenzie, has been working at Bonefish for SEVEN years! She was outstanding.  She was super knowledgeable, friendly, and ultra-sweet.  They are very accommodating to special diets, so she said all of the staff need to be super educated about what’s in each dish.

img_0030It was recommended to us that we try the “Dine and Discover, Dinner for Two” menu, and who are we to argue?  $50 includes an order of Bang Bang Shrimp to share for an appetizer. And OMG the Bang Bang Shrimp. If you haven’t tried them, you must. They are lightly-battered and pan-fried and served covered in the most addictive sauce. EVER.

The second course gives you a choice of two entrees from a list of four (which is shown above and which all sound amazing) and then you get a dessert to share.

img_0036Here is where we were start to get really impressed…. We ordered the Fresh Swordfish with Pumpkin Ravioli and Fresh Rockfish and Shrimp.

img_0032The swordfish was by far the best we’d ever had.  If you blindfolded me and did a taste-test, I may have mistaken it for beef.  It was cooked perfectly with no “fishy-ness”. We loved it. Rick was raving about the blackening on the shrimp and I thought that it was great as well.  There was nothing healthy about the butter-laced green beans and that’s ok by me, delicious. The whole meal was satisfying and we were talking about coming back for it again before we were even finished.

img_0041And the dessert….Rick quickly proclaimed this one of his favorite desserts ever. It’s called Jamaican Coconut pie and it’s served with rum sauce. It was incredible. Think big, warm coconut macaroon with whipped cream and rum sauce.

I hope they don’t mind me sharing….because says they got it off the the official Bonefish website, but you’ll love this so much when you try is as part of the three course menu, that you’ll want to make this at home, immediately when you get home:

So thanks again to Bonefish Grill for treating us to an awesome date night! We think you should treat yourself to a date night this week and go try the Dinner for Two, which is a bargain, at Bonefish!



Vines to Wines

Have you had The Wine Experience?

IMG_2263IMG_2245Look! I’m shopping and drinking wine at the same time!  Is this heaven?!  No! It’s Younkers!  We rediscovered The Wine Experience in Younkers at The Jordan Creek Mall this weekend.  The Wine Experience, with its impressive wine selection, top-notch cuisine and lovely atmosphere makes The Wine Experience (in my eyes) one of the best kept secrets in the metro.

I know I’m known for being kind in my restaurant reviews because I have a soft spot for locally owned and IMG_2272operated restaurants (like this one), but this place is the real deal.  I was happy to be invited in this week to try out what they had to offer.  I have to admit, I was definitely not expecting it to be as wonderful as it was.  It’s unfortunate that The Wine Experience isn’t as well-known as other restaurants in its league, because it should be!  I’ll be having dreams about Chef Simon’s Korean Steak and Egg entrée special that he served with brussel sprout hash and miso corn puree.  Seriously, I’m not kidding…Out. Of. This. World.  All of these dishes were intricate and delicious and paired well with our wine choices.

IMG_2203 This particular evening had a corn theme, a wise choice as the most glorious Iowa corn season is coming to close. IMG_2194I don’t think we could have gone wrong with anything on the menu, but stand out items were the bacon deviled eggs served with house-made pickles, which I could have easily eaten a whole plate of by themselves. That good.  The corn fritters which were light with a nice crunch.  The stuffed dates which had a generous amount of bleu cheese and a superb red wine reduction.  Our friends tried the pesto pizza and chicken apple salad which they said were fantastic and Josh had the La Quercia prosciutto baguette which he was so attached to that he was still trying to finish the whole thing when our local pear, pear crisp arrived. It was so good, our friend who proclaimed he didn’t usually like crisps said it was awesome.

IMG_2201 IMG_2210The prices were quite reasonable, the wine was excellent, not to mention that you can BRING YOUR WINE into Younkers to shop!  Umm…what a great idea!  Why do I not see people walking around with wine glasses all the time in Younkers?

It’s in such a convenient location that we already plan to be back for lunch very soon and what a great intimate setting for a special occasion, or just because!

IMG_2240 IMG_2254Please do yourself a favor and check out The Wine Experience.  You won’t be disappointed.  Like, I said you can’t go wrong.  Especially check out the shared plates that are available after 5 and whatever Chef Simon says to get….do it!  He makes some magic in that little kitchen and I hope more people come try it out soon!





Check out their website here for menus and information and “like” them here on Facebook for special events and meal specials!  Thanks for having us in Tom and Lane!

#Hashies2015 Recap

IMG_1491 IMG_1497The anticipation is over! The 2nd annual Hashie Awards has come and gone.  The winners have been announced and the Social Media Club of Des Moines has recognized it’s 2015 Hashie award winners. #Hashies2015 can be retired and it’s time to start thinking about #Hashies2016!

The ceremony was a lovely event that was held at Jasper Winery with food aplenty catered by event sponsors like Gateway Market, Tres Mentes Salsa and Creme Cupcake.  How cute are these Hashie Cupcakes!?

FullSizeRenderIMG_1512The awards were created by the Social Media Club to honor local entities who make great use of social media.  Companies/individuals are encouraged to enter in the categories of their choice and a professional panel of judges adjudicate entries.  It’s quite an honor to be
nominated and to receive an award as they got at least 100 entires this year!
I’m excited to say that Eat, Play, Love Does Moines received a second place award for Best Personal Blog! Yay!

IMG_1529What a fun night to celebrate the hard work that goes into Social Media efforts in our city. What’s better than great food and wine, great people and celebrating great achievements!  So happy to be a part of this event this year and look forward to many more!  Congrats to all of the nominees and winners!

IMG_1528Check out the Social Media Club of Des Moines website to check out all of the winners and to stay up to date on all things social media and more fun opportunities from the organization and of course for info on the 2016 Hashie Awards as soon as it comes available!

Little Morocco

IMG_4739 IMG_4742Sooo…..You know how you move (even if just across town) and things get all disheveled and you get stressed out and you let things slip…. Well, I did that with my write-up about Little Morocco.  So I’m making it up to you right now!

It’s a good time to tell you about them actually, if you haven’t already heard, because they are just starting back up with the Downtown Farmer’s market for the season.  You can see them mostly every Saturday at the market to enjoy their fresh-baked goods.

IMG_4746 IMG_4757But, if you get a chance to attend one of their pop-up dinners, it’s a real treat.  I’m keeping my finger’s crossed for an announcement that they are opening their own restaurant soon, but for now, they are doing pop-up dinners.  Past locations have been at Red’s China Bistro and the Riverwalk Hub.  Basically, they are a restaurant for an evening and they roll out the red carpet for their guests.  They limit the attendees so that really gives you an intimate setting to enjoy your meal.  3-course meals complete with tea and dessert all cooked and served by the lovely owners Taoufik Essaidi and Jenna Irving.  The cost was just $30/pp.  I did notice the one they hosted last month that the price was $35/pp, but a great price either way.

IMG_4762At the pop-up dinner we attended we enjoyed fresh-baked bread, a first course of a salad trio including zucchini zalouk, roasted red pepper chechouka and herb salad, a second course of chicken tagine and a dessert trio of Moroccan raib with dates (think custard), honey cake and roasted plumbs.  Everything was fantastic.

Keep an eye on their Facebook page for the next pop-up dinner and make sure to make your reservation right away when you see it because they fill up fast!


Rockin’ the Tapas at RoCa

get-attachment.aspx get-attachment-18.aspxThe newest Court Avenue dining establishment, aptly named Restaurant on Court Ave (or RoCa) definitely rocked our world during our visit last month.

The tapas (or shared plates concept) is in full trend and RoCa is doing it right.

We had a reservation, but it seems other people are loving the relaxed atmosphere where it’s easy to chat with friends and enjoy some great cocktails and food just as much as we did, so a table wasn’t ready for us when we arrived.  But have no fear, the excellent wait staff promptly brought us some complimentary bubbly to make our wait a little more enjoyable.

IMG_0763_2 IMG_0764_2They have regular tables, but they also offer some couches with coffee-type tables to sit at as well to make it feel more homey.  They fill up fast though, so they are hard to snag at the busy times.

We were seated shortly thereafter and there was no shortage in selection from meatball sliders to a charcuterie plate, smothered tots to flatbread and even some entrees including chicken saltimboca and ribeye.

get-attachment-16.aspx get-attachment-19.aspxI really can’t wait to get in to try more of their unique offerings and more craft cocktails!  I was especially fond of the Champaign cocktails.

I love that they are open for lunch as well as dinner Tuesday’s thru Saturdays.  This was a great place for a girls night out (I was lucky enough to have my friend Lisa along from Pineapple Ink to capture a few great shots of our meal), but would be a lovely date-night location as well.  Perhaps a dinner destination before or after a show at the Civic Center?  We’ll be back soon to try some different tapas! Who wants to come with to share?!

DMACC Dinner – Mardi Gras

IMG_3060 IMG_3067So, I’ve told you before that we enjoy having dinner a few times a semester at the DMACC Culinary Institute.  Here is my last post explaining more about the dinners:




IMG_3087 IMG_3070We like supporting the institute, it’s a great date night and a portion of the meal is tax-deductible.  Oh, and the food is great.  We particularly enjoyed the Mardi Gras themed meal last weekend so I thought I’d share some photos.

The top photos are the appetizer course(s) of a pretzel coated (and they really meant pretzel) crab cake and their take on a fried green tomato club salad to the right.  We loved both.


IMG_3080 IMG_3072There is always homemade bread, a soup course (tonight’s was “snapper”), a cheese course, an intermezzo/cleanser (sorbet usually) and dessert in addition to the main entrée, so you go home pretty darn full!  And of course there are wine pairings with each course.  Not to mention that you are greated with passed appetizers and Champaign in the lobby while you are waiting to be seated.


I was a little bummed that I didn’t make it to a crawfish boil this year like the one we went to last year at Rock Bottom: , so it was nice to have one here at the dinner tonight in honor of Mardi Gras.  Hey, I like any reason to celebrate!  This was a shrimp and andouille-stuffed quail with creole rice and haricots verts (green beans) and it was delicious.


IMG_3091Anyway, there are a few dinner left this semester if you are interested in getting in on one.  You can find the info here:

And if you aren’t wanting to commit to a full dinner, you can visit their Bistro for lunch or dinner on select days.  Check out that info here:  We haven’t tried it yet, so if you have, let us know what you had and how you liked it!