“All French, No Attitude.”
Perhaps it’s the snooty maitre d’s in cartoons or menus full of hard-to- pronounce dishes, but fact is, people find French dining intimidating.
With Django, chef and restaurateur George Formaro and his partners sought to make the dining experience a comfortable one for its customers. (Hence, the restaurant’s tag line, above.)
“That was the challenge of Django: developing an unpretentious French restaurant,” said partner Paul Rottenberg, of Orchestrate Management. “I think that’s a key to this market.”
But any barrier to Django is simply an initial one. If you go once, you’ll be back. Seafood brought in by jet, cheese plates, artisan bread and French fries fried in duck fat.
Go easy with a Le Royale cheeseburger, or go all-French with escargots or bouillabaisse.
In the last year, Django has added a Sunday brunch with items like Le Breakfast Burger (with ham, cheese, bacon and a fried egg on a croissant), crepes, eggs Benedict and more. The success of Django and Centro’s brunches help show there’s life during the mornings and early afternoons downtown on the weekends. (Not always the case.)
Django also never has a corkage fee, so if you want to bring your own champagne you can mix it with glasses or carafes of fresh orange juice to make your own mimosas.
The old world charm of Django also has some nifty technological aspects. Like Centro, the restaurant recently added 15 “digital sommeliers,” iPads that let guests browse flavor profiles and suggest pairings.
With Django, Formaro and Rottenberg were looking to create a concept that was broad enough to attract anyone, while not trying to be everything to everyone. Django has a target audience, but it’s not a niche concept.
“I think there’s Django people and Centro people,” Rottenberg said. “People generally like both places, but I’ve found if you press someone they’ll say something like ‘I hate to admit it, but I like …’
“As long as you’re eating on 10th Street, we don’t care which one you like better.”
Where: 210 10th St.
Hours: 11 a.m.-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 4-11 p.m. Saturday, 10 a.m.- 9 p.m. Sunday.
Info: Go to djangodesmoines.com.