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It’s Monday again? How many times is this going to happen? It’s almost as if the last week plus a few days was all a dream filled with flying tickets, profanities, non-stop business, more business, and almost no time for much needed sleep (which is where these restaurant horror-dreams NORMALLY live). If you have ever graced a busy restaurant with your employee-dom, these dreams have probably invaded your sleep-scape more than once – the never-ending mocking sound of a kitchen printer, the demanding guests who’s table is at the top of a mile-long spiral staircase, the blinking “pending orders” on your screen, plates mysteriously slipping from your grasp and crashing to the floor as angry patrons scream for their dinner, the vomitorious feeling of running on a speeding treadmill who’s placed right in front of the very gates to whatever “bad place” your spiritual beliefs have prescribed for heathens, and all you can do is try run to your tables until you slip and the conveyor finallly spits you off the back and into the abyss. The restaurant bad dream experience (RBDE), according to many of our local restaurant professionals willing to speak of this past week’s RW madness, manifested itself in real time on many a night (and day for those who served lunch). I applaud all of you who effectively worked through the RBDE towards dining victory…the servers, cooks, restaurateurs, chefs, managers, and especially the dish washers (ensuring 3 courses for a larger percentage of patrons than usual exponentially expands the dish-dirtying, placing the dishwashers slightly farther back on that conveyor belt to heck) who were on the front lines, in the trenches making sure the Dining Public got their $25 worth of enjoyment (and then some). Good Job.
Here is a statement (used without permission) from a local RW diner regarding Baru 66:
As we sipped a glass of champagne after dessert, my sister and I couldn’t believe the value of our meal. The amount of food, the quality, the service, all for $25, was unreal. I made reservations on my way out for next weekend again so I can try other things on the menu, and I can’t wait to go back! I’ve found my new favorite restaurant in Des Moines and love it.
That statement could be Restaurant Week’s thesis. I hope that everyone had at least one experience such as this, not necessarily just at Baru.
The week was meteorogically (is that a valid word?) magnificent, almost-perfect temperatures, no rain (!), slight breeze, you really couldn’t ask for a better week for RW. It was great patio weather, allowing those with outdoor tables to utilize all of their extra seating. It was just cool enough to keep people out of that dreaded “Hot Weather Cranky Pants” zone. Diners seemed to really be enjoying themselves. I know that the restaurant which reluctantly allows me to still come in and ply my trade had near-record pace business, and most of the other top restaurants in town had the same great luck. I hearby declare RW a success in the eyes of this here cook. I believe that those who can’t normally afford to get out to certain spots were able to experience what they have unfortunately been missing, and may return for a special occasion or for some wine and appetizers (you don’t have to go all out at “fancy” places, it is perfectly fine to sit at the bar for a light snack and some drinks) OR maybe they perused the regular menu and found that in addition to a $30+ steak plate there are also affordable entrees and will be back to experience the ambiance of their new favorite spot. Fine dining doesn’t have to mean spending hundreds of dollars just for walking in the door. I mean, this isn’t NYC.
OK, so RW was a fair to middling success for some. I haven’t gotten a chance to do the rounds to all of my RW Fave picks for their feedback. Here is MINE though.
Ten-ish Things That Would (Maybe) Make RW An All-Around Better Experience
- Dining Education Classes. You think I’m joking?
- Interactive Cooking Demo’s – I see this done in other cities, and believe there are a few Chefs in town who could rip themselves away for an hour to show you how it’s done.
- The RW sponsors should work with the prospective restaurant participants next year to better set pricing and rules to make things fair for all parties. Lots of feedback from restaurateurs regarding this point.
- Can we get a different “prize” trip. Is Puerto Rico really an appropriate destination for a dining drawing? Pick San Fran, NYC, Portland, Chicago, or another state-side dining destination with some pre-made dining reservations would do nicely.
- More prizes than just one trip to some destination. Everyone who managed to get 4+ different dinners/lunches in deserves a chance to not only win a trip, but smaller prizes such as Gift Cards, Restaurant Shwag, and the like would make it even more fun. I am only harping on this as the web site for our RW seems to promote this Puerto Rico trip more than dining in DSM.
- Hey Restaurants, if you happen to be listening to what is being crapped forth from your computer as you read this, why don’t you all try doing a little something more for the Veg-Heads out there? Lots of feedback from disappointed vegetarians who were mostly excluded from the festivities. Maybe DSM Mag could make this a part of the Rules Of Engagement?
- I would like to see the weekly print mags (Juice, Cityview, etc) invite a guest panel of writing diners (or dining writers) to serve up opinions and recommendations prior to/during RW helping to guide stomachs to food, and to get more people involved. No, I don’t have to be on it. (Technically I am one year too old to be a part of Juice anyway.)
- A big kick-off or final night gala would be super cool. Imagine the Sunday after a tough 9 days of getting beat down/enjoying local dining, depending on what side of this dining red rover you reside, diners and restaurant folk getting together in Nollen Plaza or some such place for some entertainment, apps (maybe RW leftovers? HA!) and libations. Or maybe a kickoff the Thursday before. Maybe an awesome “Meet the Chefs” q&a panel? Can’t this be a giant Food Celebration?
- For (insert preferred deity’s name)’s sake, can you make some t-shirts or merch for participants to buy from some web site (or for free)? I am not saying you have to wear it during your dining adventure, in fact I strongly discourage this behavior, but it gets the word out on the street every time someone passes by sporting a “Des Moines Restaurant Week” shirt. Then people say “when is the next restaurant week.” Marketing 101 folks.
- I forgot what number ten was while writing number eight.
So there you have it, tens of readers. This is your Restaurant Week Recap from Locally Grown.
And on to the Monday news:
Did anyone else notice that the same food articles were in the Datebook, Juice, and the Iowa Life section of Saturday’s Register? I didn’t, but a reader (of this blog) did. What kind of crap is Gannett trying to pull on it’s shrinking reader base now? There weren’t enough food subjects to write about to warrant fresh articles for every publication? WEAK.
I regularly read dining “user review” sites like Yelp and Chowhound for a giggle, as most of the reviews are laughable and slanted, written by disgruntled a-holes or the like. I would like to give a shout out to Chowhound.com user Jhojoti (@Jhojoti on Twitter) for being one of my favorite user-reviewers, a true dining adventurer who knows that food is the next most important thing in life next to air, and has evidently been lucky enough to have mostly good service (doesn’t seem to complain much). Thank you, J, for being an objective diner and for being able to construct sentences! I love it. Now if you could direct me to the worst…
So many other things to write about…but I should probably start prepping for Taco Tuesday.
Hope to see you there,
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