The Wallace Centers of Iowa, located in the Wallace House at 756 16th Street in Sherman Hill, is a culinary gem for anyone who enjoys a mindful approach to delicious food. Whether it’s a Farm to Table dinner, a Chef’s Tasting Table, or a Historic Tea, the Wallace House promises memorable experiences right in the heart of Des Moines. Learn more about upcoming events and their unique approach:
The Des Moines restaurant scene is creative and vibrant. What sets Dining at the Wallace House apart from the rest?
First, the emphasis on farm-to-table dining showcases the fresh fruits and vegetables that WCI grows at its own farm near Orient, IA, and other ingredients from Iowa family farms. Not only do we purchase standard ingredients such as beef, pork, lamb, and chicken from local farmers, but also more unusual ingredients such as cheese, honey, grains, spices, wine, and beer from area producers.
The second uniqueness of the Wallace House is location, location, location. Built in 1883, the Wallace House is found in Sherman Hill, one of Des Moines’ oldest neighborhoods. The neighborhood is a wonderfully eclectic mix of homes, small businesses, and public venues. There’s an unusual feeling of vibrancy and history in the area, and that can also be found at the Wallace House. It’s not often you can have dinner in a historic home, unless you own one.
What inspires new recipes and menu ideas for your restaurant?
Menu ideas are inspired by whatever is in season, which changes all of the time since we’re growing more than 40 different kinds of produce through about 10 months out of the year. Resources like a new cookbook or a food blog can inspire new flavor combinations and recipes. Produce with a short season like asparagus are a challenge because I have too many recipes I want to use!
Tell us about your special events, like Chef’s Tasting Table.
Dinners at the Wallace House are available on Thursday nights from mid-March to mid-December, reflecting Iowa’s growing season. A Chef’s Tasting Table is offered at 7 pm the first Thursday night of each month. Instead of choosing dishes from the week’s menu, diners get a portion of every item, and perhaps a special dish or two not available otherwise. The Chef’s Tasting Table is limited to 8 diners and is $40/person. Groups with fewer than eight people will be seated together at one community table. It’s a great way to meet interesting people.
On the third Thursday of each month, we’ll have live music during dinner. It’s another way we can support local talent.
We’re also starting to plan a summer house concert for Saturday, July 23. Some of our musician friends will be performing that evening and we’ll have lots of appetizers to try, plus Iowa wine and beer for sale.
What do you mean when you say “farm-to-table dining?” And why is that important?
Farm to table dining is really about eating as close to the farm as possible. It’s consciously purchasing as much as you can from local farmers, which keeps food dollars in the community and invests in local agriculture. Farm to table dining also reduces food miles, which is the distance food has to travel before reaching the consumer, and lowers transportation costs. And fresher produce, for example, is also vitamin-rich. Farmers can wait until it’s truly ripe before picking, and it doesn’t lose nutrients sitting in the store.
Do you accommodate special dietary restrictions and allergies for diners in your restaurant?
Yes. There’s always a vegetarian entrée on Thursday night’s menu. In addition, we can adjust dishes for other restrictions. It’s nice to know about someone’s needs ahead of time, but adjustments can be done at the time of ordering.
What do you love about Des Moines?
The food scene in Des Moines is amazing with lots of great restaurants and now food trucks supporting local foods. We enjoy lots of great festivals and events and bike trails. People are welcoming and kind—“Iowa nice” is a good description. They have a genuine interest in the community.
Find more details and explore the full schedule of events at http://wallace.org/.
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