Nick Lucs, the man behind the popular blog Des Moines Foodster, joins us in 2017 to share soy-inspired finds throughout the city.
Vivian’s is an upscale but casual dining experience located in downtown Des Moines,IA at 4th and Walnut.
Jeff Duncan is the owner and the creator of Vivian’s Diner and Drinks. He has over 28 years of restaurant and catering experience in the Iowa, Chicago, and Florida markets. He was born and raised in Des Moines and has been back in this market for 11 years.
Jeff’s great, supportive family includes his wife and 5 children, one of which is 4 year old Vivian whom the restaurant is named after!
Vivian’s is his pride and joy; it has been Jeff’s dream to combine a modern diner type restaurant with Midwest quality and menu items with an upscale casual feel to Des Moines for a number of years.
The location is perfect in the heart of downtown in an historic hotel. Inside, you’ll find a beautifully, remodeled interior all done by Jeff and his wife. They personally describe it as, “clean lines, open ceiling, and light colors, we have added elements of wood, glass, stainless steel, sparkling tile and high-end polished fixtures.”
This is all very true.
The ambiance of the restaurant sets the stage for a relaxing dinner.
Lately, I have been really enjoying hanging out at Vivian’s bar before my dinner reservation. It’s also a great place to catch drinks after work or before a Des Moines Civic Center Show. It’s tough to pass up Vivian’s happy hour drink specials (drinks ranging $3-$6) until 6pm. Sip on a gin and tonic, one of my favorites, or grab a local beer off of the tap wall. Pizzas are also on special during this time and I highly recommend pairing one of them with a beverage.
When looking at the menu it’s tough to make a decision with so many delicious entree choices. You have pizzas, soups and salads, burgers and then more substantial plates are found in Vivian’s Specials and Classics.
After my first visit with the Iowa Restaurant Association, I went back and took a large group of friends so they could get a taste of what I had experienced. We shared a bottle of Crusher, which is a delicious Pinot Noir from Clarksburg, California. I ordered the Iowa Mac and Cheese featuring bacon and pulled pork and my dining partner ordered the deconstructed pot pie. To be frank, we still talk about this dish, and that was almost three weeks ago. A thick and creamy sauce with their fried chicken, and roasted vegetables sits in a large bowl and on top of it all is a stack of puff pastry. So flaky and delicious. It was the talk of the table.
The third visit was just as good. I focused in on trying something new and was in the mood for veggies. The fried chicken caught my eye my initial visit but I didn’t order it so this time I was sure to go for it. The fried chicken was delicious. I loved the airline cut (a boneless chicken breast with the drumette attached). The airline cut gives you a lot of tender, delicious meat. The other part that that makes this fried chicken dish a little different than others is that there is more than just mashed potatoes with it. A complimentary side dish featured sweet corn edamame succotash.
Succotash is a food dish consisting primarily of sweet corn with shell beans, in this case a soy product! It was a refreshing side with the hearty garlic potatoes and fried chicken that creatively implemented the use of soy.
Both times that I have visited, I have thoroughly enjoyed Vivian’s. It has a great atmosphere and I love taking friends there to experience it. A wide variety of items on the menu and a great wine and cocktail list make it a great spot for large groups. Make sure Vivian’s is on your list to try in 2017, if not before the end of the year.
Nick Lucs is the founder of Des Moines Foodster. He was born and raised in Des Moines and has always had a passion for being creative in the kitchen. Des Moines Foodster has appeared in Travel + Leisure, Juice Magazine, amNY, Travel Iowa and the Greater Des Moines Convention & Visitors Bureau blog. He believes that coffee and craft beer make the world go ’round.