- 6582 University Ave., Windsor Heights, IA, 50324
- Overall User Rating:
- (13 ratings)
- 5-10 p.m. Monday through Thursday, 5-11 p.m. Friday and Saturday
- Official Web Site:
Preliminary visit — not yet rated.
What do you get when you combine an already-proven Des Moines restaurateur, a jewelry designer and a French chef who’s cooked all over the world? Baru 66, a gem of a restaurant in Windsor Heights.
Who/what: Tami Johnson, Sara Hill and David Baruthio opened the doors on March 16. Johnson helped run Basil Prosperi East and Lucca with her former husband, Steve Logsdon. Hill, the jewelry designer, is married to Baruthio, 34, the chef. The trio first met when Baruthio came to town as the consulting chef in the opening of Lucca. Baruthio trained in his native Strasbourg, France, and has held positions in France, Canada, California, the UK, Belgium and Nepal, among other far-flung spots. Most recently, the couple oversaw the opening of the luxurious Terelj Hotel in Mongolia — Baruthio as executive chef and Hill as assistant managing director. The Iowa restaurant’s name is combination of the first part of Baruthio’s last name, and the nearby street (66th).
Decor: The trio have put their own spin on what was already a handsome room (formerly the home of Sage restaurant); newly noteworthy are the burnished-caramel colored walls and dashingly contemporary paintings of Strasbourg created by local artist Jimmy Navarro.
First look at the food: In spite of Baruthio’s worldly résumé, nothing on the menu will seem head-scratchingly foreign to habitués of this city’s fine-dining scene. Touches like poached eggs, foie gras, crab cakes, warm goat cheese, homemade pâté and seared scallops grace the first-course menu, followed by main-dish choices that include seared halibut, lamb Provençal, duck breast, steak frites, tournedos rosigny and a duo of pork (loin and belly).
Instead of shocking us with new foods from elsewhere — Peruvian lucuma and the like—this chef makes his own mark on somewhat familiar ingredients, teasing out all-new pleasures from them.
Case in point: A pan-seared halibut arrives rich and sparkling atop a carrot purée, framed by a stream of dill-mustard sauce and topped with a wafer-thin disk of an earthy-sweet fried beet. At first, you relish its precise, refined flavors. But then, something else happens. You take another bite of the carrot purée and suddenly revel in the way the dish triple-underscores a vibrantly bright side of this everyday root vegetable. The effect is akin to the unexpected thrill of falling in love with someone you’ve been friends with all your life.
Bottom line: Vivid, refined and beautiful food that surprises and satisfies at every turn.