Top 3 Dishes to Order at New Downtown Hot Spot

Proudfoot & Bird’s Alaskan Salmon is accompanied by horseradish cream and a side of rye berries and beets.

Writer: Karla Walsh

You’ll feel transported in time the moment you walk into the lobby of the newHotel Fort Des Moines and its restaurant, Proudfoot & Bird. The bistro’s name even hints at another era—it’s a hat tip to the hotel’s original architects who drew up plans for the 122-year-old landmark on the corner of 10th and Walnut streets.

You may remember the dining room from its days as the “old Django,” but it looks like nothing like its previous incarnation. Art deco details, plush banquettes, marble tables and an ornate gold-adorned ceiling give the dining room a 1920s vibe. A circular bar and the wood-fired-oven-lined kitchen provide the two focal points.

Executive chef Andrew Wilson’s resume lives up to the showy space; in addition to being a contestant on the Food Network’s “Beat Bobby Flay,” he most recently worked at Charlie Palmer’s Dry Creek Kitchen in Healdsburg, California, and earned a Best Chefs America nod during his time at the Hu Hotel in Memphis.

Come to Proudfoot & Bird ready to invest—it ranks among the city’s pricier restaurants—but the ingredients and execution make the recipes worthy of their fair price tags. I’ve visited the restaurant twice since opening day, and after sampling a variety of the menu offerings (shishito peppers, sea bass, olive oil cake and more), I landed on three personal favorites that I’d recommend for your first foray:

     Warm Ricotta: Scoop up the crunchy-topped (thanks, truffle honey and sea salt!), warm whipped ricotta ($14) to smear on slices of grilled bread for a marvelous start to any meal.

 

     Charred Carrots: Entrees range from chicken and duck to cauliflower to a variety of fish. No matter which main dish you choose, add a side of this shareable vegetable ($12) that features gorgeously grilled multicolor carrots atop a swoosh of curry-spiced labneh (yogurt cheese), accented by a sprinkle of salty pistachios.

 

     Alaskan Salmon: In a neck-and-neck battle for best in seafood alongside the black cod with miso, turnip and uni butter ($34), this salmon dish is equal parts hearty and healthy thanks to whole grain rye berries and beets on the side of the seared seafood ($30). Peppery, earthy and faintly citrusy caraway seeds accent the horseradish cream with flair.

Proudfoot & Bird is open daily for lunch from 11 a.m. to 1:30 p.m. and dinner from 5 to 10 p.m. The  Hotel Fort Des Moines, a Curio Collection by Hilton property, is located at 1000 Walnut St. Check out the menu and make your reservation on Opentable, and keep up with the latest on Instagram @proudfootandbird.

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