CLOSE

Autumn is only a few days away, Des Moines. And what better way to satisfy your culinary cravings during crisp weather to celebrate the bountiful Iowa harvest? Here are seven restaurants that are bringing warm, comforting flavors and sweet fall dessert treats to get you started. Brian Taylor Carlson/The Register

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE

When you eat out 100+ times a year (tough job, but someone has to do it!), you:

  1. Meet talented people, discover new hot spots, and get a taste of a place,
  2. Get used to kicking it into overdrive at the gym, and
  3. Notice some common trends — both good and bad 

So today, we’re here to commiserate with you about some groan-worthy moments you may have suffered through, too. It’s not about whining, but more about hope. Hope that we, as a community of diners, can make the experience better for all involved.

What would you add to the list?

The paper trail

I get it. You’re serving messy barbecue, burgers and such, and it seems more practical to serve any of these dishes in a basket with a paper lining. But when I cut into that barbecue, burger and such, the juices turn that lining into mush that gets stuck in my meal. Then I have to pick it out, or worse, take a bite of food with paper ground in there. It’s not appetizing. Just stop doing it. Worth mentioning: Paper napkins aren’t much better. The cheaper the paper, the more I have to use. — Susan

Not-so-silver-ware

Pinterest-famous gold cutlery isn’t necessary, but a fork or knife hefty enough to cut through meat is. From teeny-tiny to wimpy to plastic, a so-so set of silverware can make a top-notch meal feel much less classy in a matter of moments (like when you are left sawing at a medium-rare steak). — Karla

No parking

This is more of a city issue, not a restaurant issue. But I’ve spent too much time driving around a restaurant to find a place to park. This isn’t a downtown Des Moines issue. This is pointed at restaurants with their own parking lots. My new attitude is to just keep going to a different restaurant instead of fighting for a place to park. — Susan

Let there be light

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve had to pull out my phone and turn on the flashlight just to read the menu. Ambiance is nice, even romantic, and dim lights sure can make me look a lot younger, but turning the rheostat to the right just a smidge more would prevent me from blinding every diner around me so I can read my menu. That flashlight does not create a pretty ambiance. Side note: It’s also nice to see what you’re eating. — Susan

Can you hear me now?

Shouting is fun on the playground when you’re 5 years old. In a restaurant when you’re an adult? Not so much. Music is lovely for ambiance, true. But when it overwhelms conversation, or conversation overwhelms the space, it’s time to consider under-table padding, ceiling installations, or softer furniture to absorb the boisterous acoustics. — Karla

Don’t drink the water

Restaurateurs, take a drink of the water you serve your diners. Does it taste good? Would you want to drink an entire glass? I’ve found some places have water that tastes like chemicals. If you think about it, that means everything from the ice in drinks to the pasta and rice that is cooking in that water at some point. It’s gross. Invest in a filtering system. — Susan

Dinner disappearing act

Turnover is key to restaurants making money. Still, as long as one diner at a table is still eating, another set can’t be seated at said table. So when a patron still holds silverware or appears to be still nibbling, please don’t ask (or worse: attempt) to remove the plate. It gets a bit awkward to admit, “No, I’m not quite done.” — Karla

Stick it to the man

Nine times out of 10, when I’m dining with a male, it’s assumed that he receives the check at the end of the meal. Placing the bill in the middle of a table is a small, yet thoughtful way, to show that equality reigns in 2016. — Karla

Closing time

Walking up to the door of a restaurant to find it dark and locked when it’s listed as open on the website and the door is such a buzzkill. It’s like showing up at a party that the host (and everyone else) doesn’t attend. Social media and websites are easy, in-the-moment ways to keep in touch with each other. Let’s use them so we can all RSVP accordingly. — Karla

Menu words that drive us wild (and not in a good way)

  • Succulent
  • Delectable
  • Hand-crafted (typically found on cocktail menus. Is there a machine that makes cocktails?)
  • Farm fresh
  • Cooked to perfection
  • Chef-driven (who else would be creating the menu?)
  • Sammies (we’re not 12)
  • Toothsome
  • Market, as in market salad
  • Artisan (see: hand-crafted)
  • Offering (noun form)
  • Yummy (we’re not 6)
  • Foodie

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

Susan Stapleton was born in Omaha and grew up in Eldridge, Ia. The University of Iowa grad recently completed a 15-month run covering the dining scene for the Register. Karla Walsh is the Datebook Diner and a digital/social media manager at Meredith. Follow Walsh on Twitter at @DatebookDiner and on Instagram at @datebookdiner and email her at dsmdatebookdiner@gmail.com.

LINKEDINCOMMENTMORE
Read or Share this story: http://dmreg.co/2fRCm8G