Above: Django is making a comeback, with a mix of new and delightfully familiar fare, just a few blocks from its former location.
Django is set to reopen sometime during the week of Aug. 12 at 1420 Locust St. I recently toured the space, and even though the location is entirely new—with a bonus of natural light streaming through the two-story windows—the interior offers familiar touchstones: the U-shaped bar, the red banquette booths, handsome drum-shaped chandeliers, the artful copper pot installation and that giant, mesmerizing map of Paris.
So what’s new? I sat down for a Q&A with new executive chef/partner Derek Eidson, who was previously executive chef at Centro, and founding chef/partner George Formaro. Here’s what I gleaned (answers have been edited for brevity):
Q: You’re opening very soon. What are you most excited about?
Eidson: The mussels! We’re going to try to bring more Belgian influence in—we’re making a version with gueuze (a Belgian beer) instead of wine. We’ll have 10 beers on tap, including a Belgian gueuze and a Belgian saison. We’re also doing a curried version of mussels—something I discovered when traveling in France.
Formaro: I’m really excited about the patio—I always wanted a patio for this restaurant. I’m also excited about offering brunch on Saturdays [as well as Sundays], complete with raw bar options. That’s new.
Q: Tell me about some of the things that are new or newly revised on the menu.
Eidson: We’re doing a classic crab Louie salad, as well as a curried chicken salad that’s a re-imagined Cobb. We have a roast chicken served with a chicken-liver sauce. We’ll do a foie gras torchon (a classic French version of a foie gras terrine). We’re also doing new versions of pâté and rillettes on our charcuterie plates.
Formaro: The beef Bourguignon is now made with short ribs; our macaroni gratin has changed—it now has Gruyère, Comté, and Reblochon cheeses.
Q: Any long-standing favorites on the menu that went unchanged?
Eidson and Fomaro (in unison): The scallops!
Eidson: Those, and the blue cheese mussels will return. Everyone I run into on the streets tell me they want those. The steak-frites and their sauces, the New York au Poivre and the steak Rossini haven’t changed. In fact, quite a few things didn’t change at all.
Formaro: We didn’t change things just because there’s a new sheriff in town. If we thought we could do better with a dish, we did. That was the only motivation behind what changed.
Django is now at 1420 Locust St.; 515-288-0268; djangodesmoines.com.
Wini Moranville writes about food, wine and dining for dsm magazine and dsmWeekly. Follow her on Facebook at All Things Food–DSM.