- 303 Locust St., Des Moines, IA, 50309
- Overall User Rating:
- (18 ratings)
- 5-10 p.m. Monday through Saturday; closed Sunday
- Official Web Site:
M ost of our better restaurants in town have a fish or shellfish dish or two on their menu, but Splash continues to be the city’s premier fine-dining choice for seafood. In fact, sometimes I need to go there simply to remind myself that there’s no reason to give any restaurant a break for less-than-admirable seafood. Being landlocked in Des Moines is no excuse, as Splash has shown for a decade.
Atmosphere: The upper dining room endures as a playful and romantic spot, with aquariums adding an otherworldly dreaminess. On a second visit, however, we were seated in the downstairs dining room, where a little wear and tear was evident on the walls and carpet.
Menu: Fresh fish and shellfish prepared in classic and contemporary ways; although some predictable global touches (fruit salsa, wasabi) do pop up, few dishes strike me as particularly innovative. Steaks and chops round out the menu.
Best bites: I’m dreaming now of the salty-sweet Alaskan King crab cocktail — $14.95 for a generous half pound. If this place has a signature dish, it’s the luscious buttery Chilean sea bass served meunière style (dusted in flour; sautéed and finished with a lemon-spiked brown butter). It’s one dish servers consistently recommend, for good reason.
The scallops here were so glisteningly fresh and delightful, I wanted to go to the last restaurant in town where I ordered lackluster scallops and ask for my money back.
If you find yourself dragging a seafood-phobe here kicking and screaming, it’s nice to know that the beef is top-notch, though its price climbs into expense-account territory (a prime rib-eye set us back $38.95). Nice to know, too, that the least-expensive fish on the menu, the grilled Mahi-Mahi ($19.95) brought plenty of freshness and sparkle and a good, hearty texture. I also admire the attention paid to side dishes, including the fragrant basmati rice. Vegetables also get their due — a fabulous roasted cauliflower with tomatoes and capers went well beyond the usual broccoli- carrot-cauliflower medley.
Not so much: The Caesar salad was a muddled thing, while the warm chocolate cake had little more finesse than a microwaved cupcake. The tart and tingly Key Lime cheesecake, with a refreshing tanginess, is a better dessert choice.
Service: Friendly but scattered one night, perceptive and accommodating the second.
Bottom line: Special-occasion and expense-account worthy.