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On a crisp and blustery fall evening, we made our way to the cozy environs of SKØL in East Village in search of meat and mead. 

Located at 401 SE 5th Street in East Village, SKOL is the newest venture from Full Court Press — the restaurant group behind many Des Moines dining and nightlife landmarks such as Fong's Pizza, Buzzard Billy's, El Bait Shop and High Life Lounge.

SKØL is located next door to Truman's KC Pizza Tavern, another Full Court Press venue. 

The restaurant pays homage to ancient Scandinavian culture. Plenty of antlers and wooden shields adorn the sage-green walls with unfinished wood trim. Reclaimed wood accents, flickering lanterns and charcoal-colored brick flooring complete the cozy, rustic look. 

We were invited by the bartender to choose a table in a dining room that was about half full, so we chose one by the window looking out onto the patio.

If you're looking to become more familiar with mead, you've come to the right place. SKØL features over 20 bottles of mead varietals from the U.S.

I chose the only imported mead on the list — from Denmark — the Dansk Mjød Viking Blod with hibiscus and hops ($6). The mead had a rich, honey flavor with a light, syrupy texture. It was floral with a hint of effervescence, served in a highball glass. 

The drink menu is formidable, with a full range of craft cocktails; draft, canned and bottled beers; ciders and wine; bourbon and whiskey; and other spirits and liqueurs. 

My husband chose a local brew — Confluence Milk Man Milk Stout, a velvety smooth dark beer with hints of unsweetened cocoa and a creamy finish ($6). 

The food menu is broken up into sections of appetizers, eight kinds of wings, salads, sides, Viking tacos, burgers and sandwiches. Our friendly server was enthusiastic about helping us navigate our way around the selections and narrowing down our choices. 

We decided to split an order of the BBQ Pork Rinds ($6) seasoned with Mo'Rub, a spice blend from a local seasoning company. The rinds arrived hot and crunchy — making animated popping noises from their hot bath in the fryer.

The pork rinds had a slightly sweet barbecue flavor from the seasoning, but I spiced mine up with some Lola's Fine Hot Sauce that was sitting on the table along with assorted bottles of Brown Dogs Farm sauces. The chefs can definitely go heavier on the Mo'Rub next time. 

For dinner, I ordered the War Pig burger special — a blend of ground beef and chorizo topped with melted pepper jack cheese, avocado and spicy aioli with lettuce and chopped tomato and serve on a toasted brioche bun ($10). For a side dish, I had the Brussels sprouts with hoisin sauce and peanuts.

The meaty burger was juicy and had a light spiciness that was cut with the cool, creamy avocado and veggies while the brioche had a crispy, toasted edge. The rich and smoky Brussels sprouts were wilted on the outside and still slightly crunchy in the middle, with extra crunch from the chopped nuts. 

Nine taco varieties are available on the menu and all are served on lefse, a Norwegian flatbread made with potatoes, flour, butter and cream. My husband ordered the three taco special with a side dish ($12). The tacos can also be ordered a la carte.

He chose the Chili Colorado with pico de gallo, Al Pastor with onion and cilantro and the Verde Chicken taco with cooked tomatillos, jalapeños, white onions, cilantro and pico de gallo. For his side, he chose the roasted root vegetables.

The Chili Colorado taco was flavorful with chilies and spices and the chunks of beef were tender. The Al Pastor taco had a nice pineapple flavor that wasn't overpowering to the pork. The Verde Chicken was light and bright in flavor. The vegetables were tender and soft and perfectly seasoned.

The tacos were served with fresh radish and lime wedges, along with ramekins of fresh, mild salsa verde and a red salsa with a kick. 

His overall assessment? "Each taco was very good and very unique."

From start to finish, our dining experience took about 75 minutes and our bill was $41.96. Dessert was out of the question after our meal, but I am interested in trying some wings and maybe another kind of mead on our next trip to SKØL.

Erik the Red is raising his glass in Valhalla over this new Nordic nosh nook.


Location: 401 SE 5th St., Des Moines

Hours: Sunday-Thursday, 11 a.m.-12 a.m.; Friday-Saturday, 11 a.m.-2 a.m.

Contact: (515) 777-1012;; Facebook

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