Tangerine at the Art Center

— By Design Furniture & Interior Design presents dsmDining —

Above: An artfully prepared lunch by Tangerine at the Art Center: a burger with a cup of soup and a crostino.

By Wini Moranville

Tangerine, a respected local catering company, took over operations of the Des Moines Art Center’s restaurant in February. Judging by a recent visit, they’re off and running, serving the kind of ambitious and modern, fine-tuned food that you’d hope to find in an important art museum.

Though my visit fell on yet another bleak winter day, this longing for spring made me say, “yes, please” to the cream of asparagus soup. What I loved was the way subtle-but-insistent za’atar seasoning added a toasty warmth, while still letting the produce’s bright promise of spring shine through. The woodsy cream of mushroom soup felt equally alive with seasonal spirit.

Who orders a burger at the Art Center? From now on, I’ll be eyeing it. The Dave’s Burger #1 brought an artful stack of beef, pepper-bacon, slow-roasted tomatoes, garlic-herb and cheddar cheeses and fried leeks. I can hardly wait to find out what Dave’s Burger #2 will bring. My dining buddy was almost equally pleased with her asparagus-prosciutto pasta.

Ultimately, we floated out the door on a high note thanks to both the ultra-moist almond cake with burnt orange marmalade and the chocolate marquise (an insanely decadent chocolate dessert that’s denser than mousse but more elegant than a flourless chocolate cake).

Who are these people? Tangerine owners Cherry Madole and Susan Madorsky have quite the culinary pedigree. Madole trained at New York City’s Culinary Arts Pastry and Baking Program and honed her craft in the pastry kitchen at Cafe Bouloud, among other spots. Madorsky has worked from Portland, Oregon, to Chevy Chase, Maryland, with stops in San Francisco (to train under famed pastry chef Jim Dodge at the Stanford Court) and Washington, D.C.’s Willard Hotel.

The chef is Dave Malfara, who has worked at Bistro Montage, Grand Piano Bistro, 801 Chophouse, and Baru 66. The pastry chef is Kelsey McCreight Williamson, who spent the last decade perfecting her craft in Minneapolis, including stints at Rustica Bakery, Spoon & Stable, and Bellecours.

According to Madorsky, future plans for Tangerine at the Art Center include extending the general hours later into the afternoon to allow museum patrons to pop in for dessert. Thursday evening hours—to accommodate happy hour and dinner—are also in the works. On-site catering is also a focus.

Tangerine at the Art Center is at 4700 Grand Ave., 515-277-4405; desmoinesartcenter.org/visit/restaurant
Wini Moranville writes about food, wine and dining for dsm magazine and dsmWeekly. Follow her on Facebook at All Things Food–DSM.

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