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May 21, 2008 07:55 AM

Des Moines Advice Needed

Have you stayed in and eaten at the Fort? We booked a suite for our 10th wedding anniversary. Reading reviews on-line looks like the place is hit-or-miss. Anyone know if it really is a decent place? We're new to Iowa, but we live in Ames so could drive home at night if it just isn't worth it (other hotels are full). I heard the restaurant there is a good one. But I don't see any info on this....? Have you eaten there?

We will go to Blues on Grand and the farmer's market...and we love French food. Is Bistro Montage a good choice for a special meal, or would Lucca's be better? I've read previous posts and have a long list of things to check out. Thanks for any extra advice you can give us to make this weekend memorable! We like 'different' and enjoy new experiences.

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  1. cestchouette,

    Fort Des Moines isn't the nicest hotel in town, but I like the feel of it. Have you tried the B&B across from the art center? It seems like a nice place to spend an anniversary and it's very close to downtown. http://www.butlerhouseongrand.com/

    Bistro Montage is almost always good and even great. But if I were staying at the Hotel Fort Des Moines or was an ardent fan of French food, I'd be inclined to try the brand new French restaurant inside the hotel. It's operated by the same guy who runs Centro and Gateway market. The menu looks terrific, particularly their seafood offerings.

    1. Bistro Montage is excellent. Lucca is very good, but can be uneven. Cafe DiScala is quite lovely. The restaurant in the Hotel Fort Des Moines has changed names and hands(?), so I don't know about its quality. When it went by 43 or 42 or whatever it was called it was not so great, everything was fried and it was kind of too meaty for my taste. If you like Indian food try India Star on Douglas. The service is good, but very slow, but the food is worth it.

      1. Here is an article on the new French place by the hotel. To new to know anything about, but I will tell you that just about anything George Formaro gets involved in, is going to be good. His other places receive consistently good reviews.

        The French restaurant Django opened Monday at 210 10th St. in Des Moines, next to Hotel Fort Des Moines and Raccoon River Brewing Co.
        Django, pronounced like Jango - the publicity slogan is "Just say Jango" - serves many classic French dishes such as cassoulet, steak frites, or steak and fries, and bouillabaisse. General manager Josh Holderness said the centerpiece of the restaurant is a large bar where patrons can order fresh seafood, including oysters, shrimp, clams and mussels, as well as cheese plates, cured meats, artisan bread and desserts.
        Chef/owner is George Formaro, who is also seen around Gateway Market, Centro, South Union bakery and cafe. Executive chef is Chris Place.
        Django is open for lunch weekdays and for dinner daily. Hours are 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Mondays-Fridays; and 4-10 p.m. Sundays through Thursdays and 4 p.m.-1 a.m. Fridays-Saturdays.
        Walk-ins are welcome, but reservations are recommended. Call 288-0268 or see www.djangodesmoines.com.

        1 Reply
        1. re: Bobfrmia

          Although I have not yet been to Django, I would be surprised if it wasn't top notch.
          Holderness was the manager at Centro and was picked for the new place due to his experience and expertise. Just understand that it is in the early days and getting up to speed.

          If you decide to not take that risk, Bistro Montage is well above Luccas, especially with your taste in French preparation. And I'm sure the Fort's "limo" would give you a lift to and from Montage. It really isn't far from the hotel.

          If you are going to the market try the breakfast burritos prepared by The Farm Boys, at least I think they call themselves. You won't have any trouble finding them, there will be a line but it passes quickly.

          I think you will enjoy the Fort Des Moines. It is still locally owned, the owners have a stake in Django and although it is "aged" it is well managed and stately. Have a great time while you are in town!