Wednesday, December 17, 2008

We heard the pizza was good... It wasn't.

Tavern II
1755 50th Street
West Des Moines, IA 50266


I usually can find the silver lining in a restaurant. I’m having a hard time with this one. Okay… I found one. The server knew why the tomato sauce on the pasta was as hot as tabasco. The cook that day always made the sauce with more heat than the other cooks. It WAS tabasco!

Other than the above, for which I had to dig deep to find a positive, the experience was awful. Lets start with the obligatory salad. The lettuce was wet, so the blue cheese salad dressing, which was passable by itself, was diluted. Washing and spinning salad should be easy enough you’d think. Apparently not at this place. My table mates aren’t foodies. In fact they are easy to please. The above mentioned tomato sauce was served to my Aunt who had just made it in town after a flight from Washington D.C. I tasted it. It was HOT. Don’t think this was a simple pomodoro, this was flavored with Tabasco, lots of it. The waitress informed us that if we came back another day that it would be different. The cook that was there that day always made it hotter than the others. So much for standardized recipes… I ordered a small pizza. Sausage with mushrooms and olives. Thank heavens that I didn’t order a cheese pizza or there wouldn’t have been any flavor at all. The crust, for which I had heard was the best in town, was tasteless and limp. Salt anyone? Not a speck of it was in that dough. The toppings were poor as well. The canned mushrooms and tasteless olives were just texture to the somewhat salty italian sausage. Des Moines is home to a great sausage maker, Graziano’s. Why they didn’t use their great sausage, I don’t know. They should.
This meal was truly forgettable.

On a follow up visit for lunch I tried The Italian Grinder. It was passable. They claim they made their own special sausage. They shouldn’t have. It was slathered in tomato sauce, this time the sauce didn’t taste of Tabasco, but it was completely predictable. By predictable I mean it wasn’t special. At almost 8 bucks I expected something special. Again a dissapointment.

The service both times was passable. Really nice people, serving really lackluster food.

The Tavern II is an offshoot of The Original Tavern in the Valley Junction area of West Des Moines. They have been in business since 1950. I haven’t been there. I don’t know if I will. If it is anything like The Tavern II it will be a waste of my hard earned cash. I had heard great things about this establishment, and I’m sorry that I can’t give them a better rating. I want to like this place. It’s a West Des Moines favorite, and I went in expecting a whole lot more. I guess that’s why I’ve never seen the neon “NO WAITING” sign out on 50th St. unlit.

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