Tag Archives: Des Moines Dates

Des Moines Dates: Noce Night

Joe and I found ourselves with three hours of kid-free, Saturday prime date-night time this weekend and I wanted to invest it somewhere a baby and toddler would not be welcome. I’ve been dying to check out Noce, the new jazz club on Walnut Street since I wrote about it for DSM Magazine; this was the perfect red lipstick, polka dot dress occasion.

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Well, almost. We turned into pumpkins/had to pick up our kids at 9 p.m. so missed the second half of Amber Duimstra’s set. Sad trombone. Duimstra was funny and warm and her local talent filled the room with friends – some of whom happened to also be friends of mine. Because, Des Moines.

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I loved sitting with Joe, sipping a French 75 in such a lovely venue. I’m not a huge follower of jazz (can I admit here that I only knew “Killing Me Softly” as a Fugees song?) but the set included a great mix of standards and some new-to-me songs, like “Dat Dere,” which appropriately enough is about raising an inquisitive toddler.

If you want to try out Noce, Tuesday evenings from 7-10 p.m. features live jazz with no cover charge. Become a fan on Facebook to stay up on show announcements: nocedsm

Parent PSA: Emmett’s preschool Grace on Cottage Grove is doing a “Parent’s Night Out” series that’s open to kids potty trained and older. It’s $5 hr (3-hr. min.) from 6-10 p.m. with movies, crafts and activities. The next one is Saturday, Oct. 15. Emmett enjoyed himself while we enjoyed Noce! It’s open to kids who don’t go to Grace, so let me know if you want the details.

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An evening on the town

Date nights are few and far between. It felt so, so good to enjoy a night out together.

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Joe got us tickets to see one of my favorite bands, The David Wax Museum, play the Temple Theater as a Christmas gift, and I’ve been excitedly counting down.

We started the evening with tapas, churros and a bottle of red wine at Lurra Cocina, with a view of the Sculpture Park.

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{ENSALADA REMOLACHA – roasted beets, farro, fresh goat cheese, shallots, sunflower seeds, and a sherry-sunflower oil vinaigrette}

The Temple is honestly not my favorite venue, because I like to be up and dancing, but Des Moines Performing Arts obviously treated the band well, which is important. I love the sincerity in The David Wax Museum’s music and (maybe it was the wine and hormones), but I teared up once or twice.

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Total DSM Moment – we were seated right next to Jay Byers, the CEO of the Greater Des Moines Partnership. We geeked out over the fabulous POLITICO article “How America’s Dullest City Got Cool” that just came out.

I got Suze’s new lullaby album (they take their 2-year-old daughter on tour with them!) at the merch table and was a total fangirl and asked for a photo.

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We left our kids with his sister and brother-in-law, and they were so worn out from playing with cousins that they mercifully slept in. Tonight we’re swapping and watching the cousins overnight. There will be five under the age of six. Wish us luck!

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Des Moines Dates: Strudl Haus

Ever since I’d heard about the Austrian restaurant Strudl Haus opening, I’ve wanted to try it. My tastebuds were craving the flavors we experienced on our Austrian honeymoon in 2010, and I’d heard it was a delightful spot.

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This morning, Joe and I decided to take advantage of Emmett’s playdate and make a day-date for brunch, with baby carrier in tow. What a difference five and a half years can make in a marriage! While we aren’t currently in a position to book a flight to Salzburg, it’s a mini-escape to hop on Indianola Avenue for a taste of Europe on Des Moines’ near south side.

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The small, sunshine-colored cafe opens into a compact dining room of unexpected elegance. A case of pastries catches the eye as you walk in – convenient if you’re just swinging by for a simple breakfast or dessert treat.

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We navigated the narrow room and took a seat in the burgundy-upholstered back booth, where we were quickly greeted. The crowd was an mix of couples and families with well-behaved small children who seemed excited about an after-Church treat.

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For starters, we split Nutella crepes, and for brunch I opted for the omelette with sausage and Joe went for the Strudl Haus eggs (served over easy and smothered in hollendaise sauce). The food was delicious, but the little details – like the coffee service on silver trays and petite chandeliers on the ceiling – made the meal feel special. We reminisced about all of the food we enjoyed on our honeymoon, and were in-and-out in about an hour.

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The spot impresses me as super-versatile — as perfect for a weekday morning coffee and croissant as I imagine it would be for one of their more expensive themed wine dinners. Since Strudl Haus specials change frequently, it would be smart to check their Facebook page or call to see what the weekly offering may be. Prost!

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Des Moines Dates: Temple Theater Day Date

I love a good Sunday afternoon date. Joe won tickets to see “Whirled New Tonight” at the Temple Theater through the Des Moines Performing Arts e-newsletter, and we were able to send Emmett to a babysitting co-op house, so it was a fun and nearly free afternoon of entertainment. We grabbed pizza and salad at Centro next door afterward.

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I’m kind of a snob about comedy (my taste is toward more witty than slapstick humor) and I genuinely laughed at this. When you walk in, the audience is asked to clip newspaper stories from the day’s papers and pin them to a bulletin board. The first half is improv, based on the headlines.

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The second half, they ask the audience to raise their hands and ask questions. The questions themselves were painfully awkward (“Should we have a second child?” “What should you do if your parents clearly have a favorite? – asked by a 17 year old who was sitting between her sister and parents; “What if you feel like the third wheel when you hang out with your boyfriend and his best friend?”) but the improv was even funnier than the news-related stuff.

Sunday was the last day of the Whirled News residency in Des Moines (at least for now), but the performance is based out of the iO Chicago Theater, so my Windy City readers can catch it anytime.

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Guest post up on “CAUGHT”

The folks over at the Greater Des Moines Convention and Visitors Bureau asked me to contribute to their new blog, “Caught,” and I thought it would be a fun opportunity to revisit my days as a writer for Juice magazine.

Since it’s just a few weeks until Valentine’s Day, and one of the most popular search terms used to find my blog is “Des Moines date ideas,” I wrote “Date Ideas to Melt Hearts, if not Snow,” which went live today.

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Des Moines Dates: Tarot for two

We needed to do something different. To get out of the sweatpants+Netflix rut of marriage in a Midwest winter. I wanted to check something off my “30 Before 30” list, and my aunt had gifted us some Christmas cash to spend on a date night*. So, naturally, I e-mailed some psychics and scheduled a couples tarot card reading.

Ula and Vianne of Visions Psychics were recommended by friends, and I liked the idea of going to a neighborhood psychic (they can come to you, but also offer readings in a home parlor in the North of Grand neighborhood.) We opted for two 15-minute tarot card readings, which they performed together at a round table lit by candles.

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I don’t really believe in psychic powers, per se, but I do feel that we all carry certain energies as part of our personhood. We weren’t searching for deep answers or anything, but it turned out to be an interesting experience.

I’m not sure if my aura or extensive presence on the internet clued them into my career in communications, but a big surprise was that the American Southwest kept coming up in connection with my moneymaking and career future/spirit guide. Hmmm.

Joe was excited to hear that his cards indicated something to do with food/alcohol and Colorado. I did get emotional when they showed cards that indicated a parent had died when Joe was younger. We told them that was true for me, but not him, and Ula elaborated in a way that made me reach for the tissues.

Do I feel like we’re really going to uproot ourselves from Des Moines to pursue some sort of brewery-running life in the mountains? Not at all. But after the reading, we went to Louie’s Wine Dive and split a carafe and lobster poutine and talked through what they said and had some good laughs together.

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We’ve been really wrapped up in the day-to-day logistics of parenthood, home ownership and work/volunteer responsibilities that it was nice to use our psychic reading as a catalyst for dreaming together and talking through some topics that we wouldn’t otherwise bring up on a random weeknight at home, or if we had just gone out to dinner.

*We saved money by calling on our babysitting co-op for free babysitting, using Christmas money and going out for a drink and appetizer instead of dinner, but the evening was still a little spendier than our typical outings.

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Des Moines Dates: East Village Hipster edition

Driving downtown on Saturday night, Joe and I realized how long it’s been since we’ve been out — sans baby. I almost opened the sun roof and howled at the moon. Really, I checked my phone every five minutes to make sure I didn’t have any texts about baby meltdowns.

Some friends offered to watch Emmett, and we hemmed and hawed about what to do on a kid-free night. We’ve been wanting to try Louie’s Wine Dive, which is nearby, but the news that I have to cut out dairy for awhile made me not want to go anywhere that would cause me to lust after menu items I can’t have.

So instead we decided to do a totally hipster East Village date: Dinner at the vegan New World Cafe followed by drinks at Up-Down, Des Moines’ new “barcade.”

My handsome date, about to challenge me to the “Iowa” course on Cruis’n USA:

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I wouldn’t say that New World Cafe exudes romance — it’s really more of a lunch spot — but it was fun to try something new. The menu here changes weekly and is influenced by what’s available seasonally. Joe got the East Walnut Street Burger: a walnut-veggie-quinoa patty topped with pickled veggie slaw, tomato jam, parsley-cashew “aioli,” arugula and sunflower sprouts. I ordered the Mexican Bowl: a mix of grains, beans, roasted potatoes & yams, veggies, avocado and green herb salsa. It came topped with a  smoky cashew “cheese” that gave the dish that melty flavorful finish I come to rely on (too much?) from the real thing.

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We were both worried the meal wouldn’t be filling, but it was nice to not feel overstuffed after dining out — and I didn’t feel the need to make myself a midnight snack!

Up-down was packed; it definitely feels like the new hotspot. We got an invite to the preview party, but it was while Emmett was in the hospital after his surgery, so had to miss out on being the cool kids who get first dibs on skee ball. But I did beat Joe for our first best-outta-three round! (Those are not our scores below.)

Are you following Up-Down on Instagram?

Are you following Up-Down on Instagram?

I grew up being terrible at video games — totally move the controller with my hands instead of pushing the buttons. And at public arcades, I mostly had to pretend to play because my parents would never give us quarters. Up-Down was offering double tokens before 8 p.m., and all games are just one token, so we got to play quite a bit on $3. My go-to games are skee-ball and pinball, and we hit up those, but we both became mildly obsessed with Burgertime.

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You basically run around trying to assemble burger patties before little fried eggs and hot dogs kill you. You can destroy them by throwing salt on them or plopping a bun/lettuce/patty on top of them. It’s totally sophisticated.

We have a few friends we do informal babysitting trading with, but Joe and I also joined a local babysitting co-op that uses an online point system to track sits. It’s a nice alternative to having to pay a sitter, and when you request a specific date everyone gets e-mailed with the option of picking it up instead of you having to make individual asks. One of the women from the co-op lives just down the street from us, so it’s introduced us to some new neighbors, too!

P.S. What’s the going rate for babysitters these days? 

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