Last month’s opening of the first Twin Peaks in Iowa was thoroughly covered, by the media. Still, there’s much more, and much less, than meets the eye at the local version of this Texas “breastaurant” chain. Twin Peaks’ descendancy is a matter of faith in the Biblical way. Just as it is believed that Noah begat Shem whose descendent fathered Abraham who begat Isaac whose descendent fathered Jesus, so it is believed that the Playboy bunnies begat the Dallas Cowboy Cheerleaders whose descendents parented the Hooter girls who begat the Twin Peaks gals.
Throughout this holy lineage of interactive voyeurism, adjustments have been made to accommodate America’s sliding scale of cultural mores. Whereas the Playboy bunnies served champagne and caviar to tuxedoed men watching celebrity entertainers, Twin Peaks aspires to be nothing more than “the ultimate man cave” in which merge two powerful versions of the American dream - that of becoming a sex object and that of maybe dating one.
Statistics from my recent noon time visit suggest that Des Moines has embraced those dreams. I counted 82 male customers, 40 HD televisions, 12 dead animals, 3 female customers (including my lunch date), 3 garage doors, and a digital thermometer that recorded the temperature of beer kegs to the tenth of a degree. Stylistically the place looked like the bastard offspring of Industrial Architecture and an Ozark Mountains lodge. Music was hard to identify because only bass and drum parts were audible through the din.
No one seemed to care about any of that. Twin Peaks’ brand is built on push-up bras and considerable exposed skin. On the day of my visit, the restaurant’s Facebook page featured a flock of buxom beauties promising “We’re waiting for you.” They weren’t. Some of their replacements looked more like little girls pretending to be big girls in flannel halter tops, short shorts and UGH boots. One of them confided that the Facebook girls had helped open the West Des Moines store and then gone home. We developed a feeling that this was our waitresses’ first job. She told us that our (Leinenkugel) Dirty Blonde had been brewed in the bar, which is not a brew pub. We worried about her burning her skin while trying to manage large trays of hot food - OSHA does not require Twin Peaks waitresses to wear aprons under their halter tops. My motherly companion suggested there was something creepy about hipless young girls cuddling for photos with customers more than three times their age. Other customers watched more mature Twin Peaks girls, from other towns, flirt with cameras on televisions that were not tuned into the ESPN family of channels.
Food wise size mattered regardless of what you think your waitress told you. An order of nachos was eight inches tall and hung over the edges of a large plate. Sandwiches were New York deli-sized - “too big for non-professional mouths” in my friend’s words.
An excellent chicken fried steak was prepared Texas style - tenderized, breaded, fried golden crisp, and served with jalapeno gravy over the steak rather than over the home made mashed potatoes, and served with green beans, tomatoes and caramelized onions.
Grilled mountain trout presented a huge, moist filet, well spiced with the same potatoes and bean dish. Pot roast was oddly made with rib eye steak.
Venison chili was so heavily spiced I couldn’t have identified the meat without a priori carnal knowledge. In fact, everything was seriously salty.
Bread pudding was served with a suggestive spume of Bourbon sauce.
Bottom line - Twin Peaks offers gargantuan portions of comfort food, really cold beer, and potential fantasy fulfillment. It‘s not quick. Our lunch hour required 95 minutes.
4570 University, West Des Moines, 528-8294
Sun. - Thurs. 11 a.m. - midnight, Fri. - Sat. 11 a.m. - 2 a.m.
A free weekend shuttle service began to/from your house to either Saints, Beaver Tap or Tonic. 8:30 p.m. - close. Call 710-3301.