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Chef Aaron Holt at the inaugural Dinner at the Barn at Lone Oaks Farm. Photo: Christopher Maharry. For more photos of this event, see the gallery at Maharry Photography.


By Wini Moranville

The most pleasurable local dining experience I’ve had so far this year was held in a barn in Madison County. Chef Aaron Holt—formerly of RoCA and the 2018 Iowa Restaurant Association Chef of the Year—headed up the kitchen for the inaugural Dinner at the Barn at Lone Oaks Farm. As a local food writer, I was invited to attend as Holt’s guest.

Located on an acreage near Winterset and set amid a gently sloped landscape of grasses, wildflowers and timber, the Barn is a circa 1850s structure that’s been beautifully restored as a performance and events venue. Showcasing goods from local farms, Holt’s five-course feast was perfect: infinitely refined, yet Iowa-hearty, it felt exactly right for the time and place. Highlights included pork belly with creamed poblano sweet corn and a gorgeous berry crisp featuring (among other fruits) the woefully underrated mulberry.

Happily, this meal was not just a one-off. The second in the Dinner at the Barn series will be held on Saturday, Oct. 19. Tickets to the bring-your-own-wine event cost $85 (taxes and service included). Check out the menu and get tickets here.

If you aren’t able to attend the next Dinner at the Barn, you can catch Holt at another singular event. On Sunday, Dec. 1, he’ll be the chef for the third event in a four-part Culinary Superhero Series. This fall and winter dinner program is designed to raise funds and awareness for the Justice League of Food, which provides homeless and at-risk youths with job training and placement in the food and beverage industry.

The series also features the work of Joe Tripp (of Harbinger) on Oct. 24 and Sean Wilson (formerly of Proof and now JLF’s director of culinary operations) on Nov. 13 and Jan. 15. Dinners will be held in the raw, unfinished garage space of the Klassroom, which is adjacent to the Hall in West Des Moines. Once finished, the Klassroom will offer apprentices a space to learn life skills and participate in fundraisers, such as pop-up dinners and cooking classes.

Tickets to the Culinary Superhero Series cost $100 and include wine pairings. Get tickets and find out more on Eventbrite.

Violinist Gill Shaham is an Illinois native, now living in New York City, who performs worldwide.


A stirring all-Tchaikovsky program awaits you in the Des Moines Symphony's season debut, Saturday and Sunday, Sept. 21-22. Featured in this Masterworks program is Gill Shaham, cited by the New York Times as "one of today's preeminent violinists."

Performances are at 7:30 p.m. Sept. 21 and 2 p.m. Sept. 22 at the Des Moines Civic Center. Advance tickets are $15–$70 (half price for students). Concert Prelude Talks in the east lobby begin 45 minutes before the performances. Click here for tickets and more information.

A highlight of our inaugural visit to Blue Sushi Sake Grill was the ceviche featuring tilapia and white shrimp, along with lime juice, cucumber, cherry tomato, avocado, cilantro, sweet onion, jalapeño salsa and wonton crisps.


Even the most ardent fans of the Des Moines dining scene have needed a scorecard to keep up with all the recent restaurant openings and closings. Here are some of them:

Blue Sushi Sake Grill at Court Avenue and Fourth Street.
Nosh Cafe and Eatery in the East Village.
Skol, a Nordic-themed bar and restaurant, in the East Village.
Motley School Tavern in Beaverdale.
Giordano’s in West Des Moines.
Wasabi Ankeny in the town’s Prairie Trail District.
Pho Real Kitchen and Bar at Fourth and Court.

Reed’s Hollow, led by chef Zach Gutweiler, in Beaverdale.
Baru 66, chef David Baruthio’s French restaurant in Windsor Heights.
Mama Lacona’s, longtime Italian-American spot, in Urbandale.
Orlondo’s, popular south-side Italian-American restaurant and bar.
Good Sons Pizzeria in Beaverdale.

Other news:
Clyde’s Fine Diner in the East Village is expected to open in early October.
Chef Jacob Demars, known for his highly detailed approach to cuisine, is expected to open R I Restaurant this fall in the former Baru 66 location.
Proof reopened Aug. 31 with a new head chef, Diego Rodriguez. Previous owner/chef Sean Wilson left to become director of culinary operations for the Justice League of Food.
Gusto’s Waukee site has closed, but the restaurant’s owners are expect to open El Guapo, a tequila and taco restaurant, in the same space in October.
Jethro’s BBQ has purchased the former Orlondo’s site and plans to expand the building and open its eighth location there in March 2020.

"Maelstrom," a 36x48-inch acrylic painting on canvas by Conn Ryder, curator of the abstract show opening Friday at Moberg Gallery.


We're intrigued by an art exhibit opening Friday at Moberg Gallery: "Kicking Abstract & Take Names" showcases the work of 13 female painters who are advancing the abstract movement in the U.S. and abroad.

Included in the show are Johanne Brouillette, Margaret Fitzgerald, Sarah Grant, Dana James, Anita Jung, Trixie Pitts, Ellen Rolli, Conn Ryder, Karen Scharer, Julie Schumer, Daniela Schweinsberg, Alayne Spafford and Pamela Staker.

For more information about the show and each of the artists, click here. The exhibition opens with a public reception from 5 to 8 p.m. Friday, Sept. 13, at the gallery, 2921 Ingersoll Ave.

Looking for something different? That's the specialty of the house at Indy House, a new boutique in the East Village.


There's a new name in Des Moines' Historic East Village: Indie House, a specialty furnishings and decor shop, carries everything from rugs to hats, all things that delight shopkeeper and design guru Julie Lyle. The name runs in the family—Lyle's husband, Lou, operates Indie House Construction. Julie was trained in design and business at Iowa State and UC Berkley, and was helping clients with decor solutions long before opening her boutique.

"I knew in my mind exactly what I wanted to do," Julie says. "Des Moines needed an independent home store with an artistic vibe."

We have one now: Indie House stocks distinctive styles and brands not generally available locally or online, and customers visiting her shop can see other products on the store's "browsing station," a 42-inch monitor with exclusive links to browse products from her sources.

Indie House is located at 516 E. Grand Ave. and here on Facebook.


If you like the East Village (and who doesn't?) and enjoy a party (who wouldn't?), mosey over to Peace Tree Taproom Thursday, Sept. 12, for the annual East Village Bash.

It's a lively fundraiser for improvements in the neighborhood, recently added to the national roster of historic sites. Organizers will host a raffle for goods from East Village businesses. You'll be entertained by local musicians and fed by food trucks from Smokey D's BBQ and Railroad Bill's Dining Car. Enjoy outdoor games and drinks from Peace Tree. And cheer for the East Village award winners to be named at the event.

Admission is $10, which includes a glass of Peace Tree's East Village IPA. Get tickets here.
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