Coopers on Fifth is no larger than a living room, with a handful of tables and a small bar. In fact, a trip to the restroom offers one a tour of the whole establishment, including the kitchen.
We arrived on a Thursday evening, unaware it was the same night as the final Jingle in the Junction event of the season, dodging horse- drawn carriages in an attempt to find a parking spot. Coopers was full, but we managed to find seats at the bar, where the bartender was more than willing to make suggestions.
Described by its owners as “classy comfort food,” Coopers’ menu is filled with just that. Standard meatloaf is reinvented with Cajun seasoning, the lone burger on the menu is topped with blue cheese and grilled onions, and the macaroni is gussied up with Gouda.
I opted for the smoked Gouda mac ‘n’ cheese and added smoked kielbasa. It was preceded by a dinner salad with mixed greens and a tangy house-made creamy Parmesan dressing, which in the privacy of my own home I would have licked off the bowl.
The macaroni arrived in a ramekin with medium-sized shell pasta tossed with creamy Gouda cheese and topped with slices of kielbasa sausage. Gouda has a mild cheddar- like flavor, and the sausage gave punch to what would be an otherwise common dish. On the side was a roll with whipped butter and fork-tender baby carrots cooked with brown sugar and honey.
My dining partner tried the ravioli randingo, which the bartender described as a signature dish: shrimp, scallops and crab sauteed with creamy garlic sauce and served over four-cheese ravioli, then topped with panko bread crumbs, mozzarella and Parmesan cheese. It arrived with an abundance of seafood, more than typically expected in this type of dish, and she finished every last bite. It arrived with the same baby carrots on the side, as well as a breadstick.
Our meal at Coopers was not just good, it was memorable. Long after leaving, we’re still thinking about the dishes we were served, and will be back for a return visit soon.
Coopers on Fifth
Coopers on Fifth
Find it: 227 Fifth St., West Des Moines (Valley Junction)
Hours: 5-10 p.m. Tuesday through Saturday; 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday
Smoked Gouda mac ‘n’ cheese, with kielbasa … $15
Ravioli randingo … $18
Two pops … $4
Total with tax and tip: $43.86