Just inside the Renaissance Des Moines Savery Hotel lies the city’s newest, swankiest lounge: Coda. Located in the former Monihan’s Speakeasy space, Coda’s name refers to a musical term that describes the closing passage of a piece. It was conceived in part by John Andres, the hotel’s executive chef and beverage director, who also is a classically-trained violinist.
First impressions: We arrived on a quiet Tuesday evening and sat at a high top bar table surrounded by cream-colored leather chairs. We were immediately impressed by the luxurious space, which seats about 60 and gives off a high-end, big city vibe.
The U-shaped room is separated into several unique areas, including one with a residential-style sofa paired with sleek seats and a mod chandelier. A deep red gallery panel makes a bold impression on the north wall, and the monochromatic artwork adorning the space is all original, a waitress told us. Customers can enjoy two small flat-screen TVs at the backlit, wood-paneled bar or watch cars whizzing by on Locust Street. The waitstaff was dressed in all black with white suspenders: a classy touch.
What we drank: A nice variety of local options and items crafted with Iowa products. Iowa beers include Court Avenue Pointer Brown Ale, Madhouse Pastime Pale Ale and Peace Tree Hop Wrangler. There’s an extensive wine list that features a generous assortment from California.
The real star of the drink menu, however, is the cocktail list. I was feeling lucky and ordered the Billionaire Cocktail ($11) which consists of Cedar Ridge Iowa bourbon, pomegranate grenadine, lemon, Lucid absinthe and Peychaud’s bitters. The delicious drink is big on flavor and well-rounded with licorice notes and a subtle, smoky taste.
My lounge-going partner had the New York Sour, crafted with Rittenhouse Rye, lemon, simple syrup and malbec ($11). He liked the boldness of the whiskey and appreciated the fact that it was not too sweet. Our waiter politely insisted we try the Cucumber Stiletto ($10), and I’m certainly glad we did. It’s a delicate, nuanced cocktail made with Absolut Citron, cucumber, lime, simple syrup and St. Germain elderflower liqueur.
What we ate: Highlights include freshly made potato chips with creamy sweet corn and bacon dip, warm pecan crusted goat cheese, and mushrooms stuffed with Graziano’s Italian sausage and Boursin. We split the artisanal Iowa cheese platter ($12), a sizable portion including two types of crackers, nuts, banana chips, apple rings, and apricots; it also comes with dried cherries and cranberries . We enjoyed several types of cheese, including a variety from Iowa’s Milton Creamery and smoked Gouda from Oskaloosa-based Frisian Farms.
What we learned: Coda opens at 6 a.m. daily and serves Starbucks coffee drinks and house-made pastries until about 2 p.m., making it a one-stop location to begin and end the day. Happy hour, dubbed Higher Spirits, is weeknights 3-6 p.m. and 11 p.m.-midnight. It features $4 drafts, $5 featured wines, pizzas and “skinny” cocktails (those with less than 150 calories) and $6 signature cocktails. Live music is Thursdays.
Why you should go: Coda is a luxe lounge different from any other in downtown Des Moines. It definitely gets major points for high-end style, and the inventive menu. Go now before there’s a long wait to wine and dine at this hot spot.