Revisit The Refreshed RoCA

RoCA is redesigning its menu, including this tahini-rich creamy garlic hummus crowned with roasted spiced cauliflower, herb puree, cranberries and more.

Writer: Karla Walsh

I’m often asked by friends where to take out-of-town visitors to dinner around Des Moines. (By the way, I adore this game, so feel free to find me on Instagram for dining ideas any time!) After responding with a few options, I frequently hear, “Oh, I forgot about that!” And after revisiting a place that has been open since 2014 last week, I have to admit that I was guilty of nearly forgetting about one Court Avenue restaurant. No longer.

My reservation at RoCA (208 Court Ave.) was inspired by seeing eye-catching dishes chef Andrew Havlovic has posted on Instagram. New to RoCA about four months ago, Havlovic is a veteran of Jethro’s BBQ and Two Rivers Hospitality Group. He also spent time as an executive chef at a beachside bistro in the British Virgin Islands and as an executive sous chef for a popular restaurant group in Phoenix.

Delightfully back in Iowa, Havlovic took our taste buds on a journey. Those beautiful plates weren’t overselling. He’s slowly working through a fall 2021 menu update, and he’s infusing each shared plate, entree and dessert recipe with finesse, global flavors and creativity.

My dining partner and I feasted on several standout shared plates:

  • Tahini-rich creamy garlic hummus crowned with roasted spiced cauliflower, herb puree, cranberries and chili oil alongside crispy pita; add some fresh vegetables and I could gladly call this lunch every day of the week.
  • Tender salt-and-pepper radishes, a playful garden riff on the salt-and-pepper shrimp or chicken featured on some Chinese and Taiwanese restaurant menus.
  • Brie with bacon jam and grilled homemade focaccia—I’m pretty sure I need to try to re-create that bacon jam recipe for every cheese board I construct moving forward.
  • Taiwanese butter rice with roasted chili vinaigrette-dressed steak only got better when we swirled in the soy-cured yolk hiding underneath.

Sommelier Rae Doyle is also giving the award-winning wine menu a makeover, and the signature cocktails that helped make the Court Avenue hot spot famous remain. All of the above and hospitable, attentive service make now the time to return to RoCA.

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