A little over a week ago I had the pleasure of being a guest judge for Battledish Des Moines. I was able to sample dishes and drinks at seven different locations around Des Moines. Man, we have some talented chefs in Des Moines!
Liberty’s – An Iowa Grill with Chef Jeff Deets
- Dish: Smoked Chicken Tostadas
- Drink: Melon Margarita
I was pleasantly surprised by this hotel restaurant and bar. They had excellent service – everyone went out of their way to accommodate the diners.
I’m a sucker for Mexican food and their dish was no different! The tortillas were crispy, the meat was smokey and the sweet corn pico de gallo topped off the dish.
Their “Melon Margarita” had the best presentation of the day. The glasses were rimmed with sugar and topped with a lime slice and a fruit skewer. It’s healthy because of the fruit, right? (Sigh.)
Alba with Chef Jo Tripp
- Dish: Braised Eden Farms Pork Belly, squash puree and charred brussels sprouts.
- Drink: Bourbon Street Beet (from Mixologist Shannon Emerson) made with beet juice, ginger syrup, fresh lemon juice, Peychaud’s bitters and bourbon.
The pork belly was rich and paired well with the squash puree. I don’t typically like brussels sprouts, but I could have eaten a plate full of Chef Jo Tripp’s veggies. The dish also featured a few different sauces – all of which were creamy and packed with flavor.
The beet (not meat as our table read – oops!) martini was strong, with a hint of sweetness. It helped cut through the fattiness of the pork belly.
Tacopocalypse with Chef Sam Auen
- Dish: Smoked Miso Ramen
I knew Chef Sam would have a unique, well-thought-out dish for us to try. And he did. You could tell how much time and thought he put into his creation. Sam presented us with his dish and explained what we were about to indulge in.
Sam showcased his handmade ramen noodles with Andouille, pear, pickled veggies, broth and even a soft poached egg! The dish had a hint of spiciness and was a seriously interesting mixture of flavors and textures. The crunch of the pear and veggies against the soft noodles and egg provided a striking juxtaposition of textures.
Gusto Pizza Co. with Chef Joe Mcconville
- Dish: Pizza Pie
- Drink: Great River Brew – Farmer Brown Ale
This piece of pizza smelled like Fall. Probably because it was loaded with carrot puree, ginger, sweet potatoes, parsnips, red onion and pecans. The ginger was a bit much for me (which is saying something since I’m married to a ginger – ha!), but I never would have even thought to put these ingredients together on a pizza!
Proof with Chef Sean Wilson
- Dish: Pork Tenderloin
- Drink: Moroccan 75
The pork tenderloin was tender and positioned on a bed of bacon-braised greens. My favorite part of the dish was the fried corn pudding on the side. It was gooey and reminded me of a fancy State Fair-style side (which is definitely a good thing in my book).
Proof’s drink was my favorite of the day. It was spicy, sweet, and refreshing. And completely unexpected. I really enjoyed the bitters and touch of peppers!
BOS with Chef John Andres
- Dish: Surf and Turf
- Drink: New York Sour
This dish featured malbec-braised beef short ribs, rye whiskey pan sauce, seared scallop and a lemon emulsion. The beef short ribs melted in your mouth and the scallop was perfectly cooked. I also enjoyed that Chef John Andres came out and addressed our table at the beginning of our mini meal.
This drink was my husband in a nutshell – whiskey and malbec. Both drinks he adores. The drink featured Sazerac rye, fresh lemon, simple syrup and Bodegas Catena Zapata.
- Dish: Argentinian Beef Tenderloin
- Drink: South American Sangria
This sandwich was crispy and topped with many flavors and textures – roasted peppers, pickled onions, eggs, and arugula. I really liked how Chef Holman incorporated sliced eggs and the mango vinagrette on the side.
The “South American Sangria” featured absinthe, cachaca, orange liquor, Mexican brandy, Pinot Noir, and fresh fruit. This drink was like Sangria on steroids. It’s a good thing we only had a small glass!
Overall, I had an exceptional time at Battledish Des Moines and I would definitely do it again. We got to interact with some of best chefs in the area, we filled our bellies with mouth-watering food and drinks, and we even made some new friends! (Check out their blogs here, here and here.)