Takeout, "Black Voices," '70s Architecture Tour
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October 6, 2020  |  VIEW AS WEBPAGE
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South of Des Moines, a custom home celebrates the fresh air of its rural setting. Incorporating repurposed materials from the owner's family farm, this industrial farmhouse dwelling looks right at home among the rolling hills.
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Lucky Horse Beer and Burgers' Dogtown burger, which pays homage to the Drake University neighborhood, is made up of two patties, bacon jam, gouda cheese and more.


Writer: Wini Moranville

Fresko: It’s hard to choose from the globe-trotting 45-plus-item menu of this new downtown venue, but I definitely picked some winners. Imbued with lemon and thyme, the wood-fired roasted chicken half hit a home run, thanks to both great flavor and a deboned presentation that made it effortless to neatly split between two diners. While (understandably) the roasted potatoes didn’t travel well, they did crisp up better after a reheat in the oven. An admirable burger, starring smoked Gouda, pickled onion and tomato jam, also pushed the right polished-casual buttons.

Lucky Horse Beer & Burgers: At this newish Drake-area venue, which is part of the Full Court Press spate of restaurants, we opted for the double-patty Dogtown burger with bacon jam and Gouda, along with the massive truffle-pear flatbread with maple sausage, caramelized onion, Maytag blue cheese and mozzarella. Both gratified in a big-food way; next time, it will be either/or, not both, as either could handily serve two sane diners.

Because most of Full Court Press’ themed venues specialize in great beer and a good-time buzz, I had to wonder how getting takeout would compare with dining in. The verdict: In addition to the food, we took home a Slushie Old Fashioned Cocktail (packaged neatly in a sealed plastic pouch) and a can of Carroll Brewing Beer— and we had a merry old time indeed.

Fleming’s Prime Steakhouse: My wedding anniversary fell on a Sunday, when most of my fave locally owned spots are closed; therefore, I headed out to one of the few chains I truly enjoy. And let me tell you, when it comes to takeout, Fleming’s is firing on all cylinders. Easy-peasy online ordering, super-friendly curbside pickup, plus two less-common touches: You can use gift certificates online and they provide reheating instructions that are right on the money.

The spouse and I split a large filet, cooked a perfect medium-rare. (I actually brought an instant-read thermometer with me to check it before I left the parking lot, just to be sure.) That, plus an order of Fleming’s opulent au gratin potatoes, made for a meal we won’t soon forget.
Bleached walnut, washed oak and other light finishes are an emerging interior design trend.
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Known for her large colorful tapestries, Jamaica-born Ebony Patterson often explores questions of identity, gender norms and the human body. The Art Center is debuting the work, titled “…among the blades between the flowers…,” in the exhibit “Black Stories.”


Writer: Christine Riccelli

Every picture tells a story, but so does every person who sees that picture.

And it’s those stories that the Des Moines Art Center hopes to showcase as much as the artwork on display during the exhibit “Black Stories,” which opened over the weekend.

Drawn from the Art Center’s permanent collections, the exhibit features a compelling mix of works—paintings, photos, mixed-media pieces, sculptures, drawings, artifacts—by a wide range of international, national and regional Black artists, including such well-known names as Jean-Michel Basquiat and Kerry James Marshall, noted up-and-comers like Jamaica-born Ebony Patterson, and acclaimed Central Iowa-based artists Jordan Weber and Mitchell Squire.

The exhibit promises to be a “celebration of blackness and about turning a predominantly white space into a space where Black people, brown people and Indigenous people can feel comfortable,” says Weber, a co-curator of the exhibit along with Squire.

Indeed, the driving motivation for the show is the Art Center’s desire to form a deeper and more vibrant connection with the local Black community. From the time the exhibit was conceived more than a year ago, Art Center Director Jeff Fleming says his goal has been to “listen, make sure we were involving the Black community in what we’re doing, and provide an opportunity where there could be partnership and collaboration.”

To that end, Fleming decided to stay out of the decision-making process and invite Weber and Squire to co-curate the show. “They are both incredibly knowledgeable and have come up with some extraordinary ideas,” he says.

Read the rest of the story in our September issue.
Downtown Des Moines' Financial Center, constructed in 1973-74, is one of the featured buildings in the Iowa Architectural Foundation's "Reaching New Heights" walking tour this weekend. Photo: Iowa Architectural Foundation.


The Iowa Architectural Foundation will take you back a few decades for a one-day-only walking tour, "Reaching New Heights," on Saturday. The event will celebrate iconic 1970s architecture in downtown Des Moines, highlighting the three most prominent downtown Des Moines buildings of the decade—the Financial Center (1973-1974), the Ruan Center (1975) and the Civic Center (1979)—and the stories behind them.

Architectural historian Jennifer Irsfeld James developed the tour after researching the Financial Center. The Financial Center’s $21 million project investment and 25 stories, with underground parking, set a new standard for downtown development.

Two socially distanced sidewalk tours, at 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m., last approximately 1 hour and 15 minutes each. Tours will depart from the Iowa Center for Architecture in Capital Square. Tickets are $30 and groups are limited to 15 people.
Previously a streetside vendor, Northern Vessel, operated by T.J. Rude and Aaron Yahi, has opened its first brick-and-mortar cafe in St. Kilda's Temple for Performing Arts location.


A new coffee shop has taken over St. Kilda's Temple for Performing Arts location, at least temporarily. Northern Vessel, which operated a streetside cart since launching in 2019, moved into the indoor space last week, calling it home for "the foreseeable future," the company wrote in a Facebook post.

The process started just a couple of months ago. Nothern Vessel was looking for a solution for an annual problem: How does a streetside vendor find consistent business in the winter? St. Kilda decided to "temporarily close" its Temple for Performing Arts location because of the pandemic slowdown, presenting an opportunity for Northern Vessel to take its place.

"We have done everything we could, to the best of our abilities, to make this space our own, and we are so excited to share it with you," the company wrote on Facebook.

Northern Vessel is open from 6:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Monday-Friday and 7:30 a.m. to 2 p.m. Saturday and Sunday. Customers can find espresso, coffee, pastries and, on the weekends, waffles.
    Nick Kuhn (left) with apprentices of the Justice League of Food’s Culinary Job Training Program. The apprentices gain valuable on-the-job training while helping those in need. Photo: Justice League of Food.


    As food insecurity has grown with the pandemic, Des Moines restaurants have stepped up to help.

    “We want to share with people that are less fortunate and could be using our help,” says Jeff Bruning, co-owner of Full Court Press. Lucky Horse Beer and Burgers, its newest concept, donates food to Grace United Methodist Church patrons via more than 300 cards that can be redeemed for a free meal at the restaurant.

    Full Court Press’ 15 other restaurants across Greater Des Moines have donated hot meals to the
    Grace Free Medical Clinic,
    providing food to patients every Tuesday night.

    Nick and Lynn Kuhn are also focusing on addressing the issue. Over the years, Nick has helped coordinate food vendors to help food-insecure individuals. The Kuhns opened the Kitchen, a commercial kitchen space, in 2019 to help fund the Justice League of Food, a nonprofit organization for which Nick serves as chairman. The Kitchen is housed in the same building as the Hall DSM, the Kuhns' West Des Moines beer hall and casual restaurant.

    Revenue generated through the Kitchen helps support the Justice League’s Culinary Job Training Program. The two-year apprenticeship teaches at-risk high school and college-aged youths culinary training and life skills to help them land steady jobs and break the cycle of poverty.

    “Feeding the homeless is important, and we’ll always do that,” Lynn says. “But in order to break the cycle, we feel like they need jobs. They need the skills.”

    Apprentices and volunteers help prepare and deliver meals to those in need. The demand for meals increased after the pandemic, with monthly meals jumping from 1,700 to 2,300 in the four weeks after the lockdown began in March, Nick says.

    “The pandemic was an exercise in using our food business to come up with as many ways to help as we possibly could,” he says.

    In addition, the Kuhns established a pop-up pantry to address growing food insecurity, ordering food and household supplies from their distributors to sell at cost to at-risk communities. They also coordinated with various Des Moines restaurants to donate kitchen surpluses of food to their community meals program.

    “I’m just proud to be a part of the food scene in this community,” Lynn says.

    Learn more about Lucky Horse, the Hall DSM and the Justice League of Food.

    Iowa Stops Hunger is a yearlong Business Publications Corp. initiative to bring awareness and action to food insecurity in Iowa.

    Vaudeville Mews welcomed musicians from Greater Des Moines and beyond in its 18 years of business.


    We were sad to learn that one of Greater Des Moines' local music staples has closed for good. Vaudeville Mews, located in the Court Avenue district, announced over the weekend it would not reopen due to the economic effects of the pandemic.

    The venue, which opened in 2002, wrote a tribute on Facebook, saying "many have indelible memories of simpler times. The public responded going to big or small events, moving the creative landscape forward. Some will say that the Mews passed too soon. Others say that the acts and the staff inspired generations to come."

    Before the pandemic, Vaudeville Mews welcomed artists from all over the Midwest and provided a venue for aspiring local musicians. It was known for hosting independent and edgy acts.

    The venue closed in mid-March, but even after Gov. Kim Reynolds allowed bars and restaurants to reopen in June, it remained shuttered because it couldn't implement social distancing in a way that made financial sense, managing partner Amedo Rossi told the Des Moines Register.

    Thanks for the memories, Vaudeville.
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