Thursday, 19 April 2012
As often as not, the proverb “there’s no replacing an institution” is wrong. Quality education for Catholic girls did not end with St. Joseph’s Academy. The Des Moines Register managed to publish after both Babe’s and The Office closed. The Polk County Courthouse still operated without The Milner or Chapter 13. Here are two recent cases in point.
Chip Coil closed The Library last year after a 19 year run hosting the Drake community with scratch nachos, cheap beer and the city’s pithiest little billboard. With only 38 seats, the place seemed an unlikely fit for new owners Full Court Press (FCP), whose résumé includes Royal Mile, Red Monk, Hessen Haus, High Life Lounge, Fong’s Pizza, El Bait Shoppe, Mullet’s and Sbrocco. On the other hand, FCP is nothing if not savvy. They kept the billboard and the nachos - each batch is freshly cut, deep fried and served hot with a choice of five toppings, plus fresh pico de gallo, banana peppers, pintos, sour cream and cheese.
They completely upgraded the beer menu. “Basically, what we have here is a consensus of what we learned at Royal Mile, Hessen Haus, Red Monk and El Bait Shop,” partner Jeff Bruning explained a tap that featured both domestic and imported “Belgians,” the only Paulaner Munich Lager in Iowa, Iowa brews from Knoxville and Iowa City, plus hits from England and Ireland living peacefully under the same roof.
Their cooler featured an array of cans, including Cain’s, an interesting dark brew from Liverpool. “As long as you don’t actually drink out of the can, they provide the best delivery system for beer,” insisted Bruning.
Italian chicken soup featured al dente angel hair, stewed chicken, smoky tomatoes and fabulous broth made with white chicken stock.
Hand breaded prok tenderloins
and freshly ground hamburgers starred on a good sandwich menu, especially with skinny onion rings.
Corned beef was quite lean. Pasta in home made mac & cheese was so soft it dissolved between my tongue and the roof of my mouth.
An Italian roast beef sandwich was neat enough to eat while driving - no juices dripped.
Blues on Grand (BG) closed in 2010 after 11 years. Its demise was mourned by multitudes though “lack of business” was cited as its failing. BG outlived its milieu which has transformed from a strip of adult book stores and homeless shelters into a new culture zone featuring a $240 million insurance building, an elite sculpture park, and Meredith headquarters. The zone’s protectors have vocally objected to a Subway outlet with a marble façade, so new owners Frank Farrell, Ryan Flattery and James Wilson artfully upgraded the venue and renamed it The Gas Lamp. Ceiling high windows provide a view of Yoshitomo Nara’s creepy little girl, the latest source of pride for the zone’s arbiters of fine taste.
Gas Lamp retained BG’s popular Friday Work Release Party (with Sumpin’ Doo) which includes a buffet and draws a crowd that would have been at home in The Milner. Otherwise, entertainment is eclectic - everything but hip hop. Gas Lamp will even host this summer’s initial Bloomsday Iowa, an event celebrating James Joyce and other Irish things sophisticated enough to drink whiskey without embarrassing the culture police. The bar also added a menu that features authentic versions of Chicago dogs (with Sport peppers),
Fontanini meatball sandwiches, Graziano sausage sandwiches, and Chicago style Italian beef.
The latter was made to be eaten while leaning over the bar so that its ample, sloppy juices drip somewhere appropriate. Thus, the sandwich symbolizes Gas Lamp’s role in its new hood - providing a proper place for the sloppy juices to drip.
3506 University Ave., 255-0433
Mon. - Fri. 11 a.m.-2 a.m., .Sat. 8 a.m. - 2 a.m., Sun. 8 a.m.-midnight. Kitchen closes at 9 p.m. daily
The Gas Lamp
1501 Grand Ave., 280.3778
Mon. - Fri. 11 a.m. - 2 a.m., Sat. - Sun. 2 p.m. 2 a.m., kitchen open lunch, late night and most other times.
Baru66 celebrates the life of Georges Auguste Escoffier all of March with specials from Le Guide Culinaire… Subway is partnering with Diet Coke to support heart disease awareness.