Well, for anyone wandering the fields of southern Iowa, I am happy to report that a pleasant dining experience can be found at The Harvest in Indianola.
Being less than 30 minutes from Des Moines, I'm guessing The Harvest's core business must be locals, their catering business, those affiliated with the private college there, & at least on the night we dined, the pre-summer opera festival crowd. I'm not sure it was a great-enough meal to make the trek from Des Moines on a regular basis (given the choices *in* the city), but it was a nice diversion if you're in northern MO/southern IA.
The Harvest is located "on the square" (meaning the historic-type part of old town Indianola), & it does have that smell & feeling of an older building... not especially in a good way, but it's nice enough. The decor is upscale small town, & there is seating for a surprisingly large # of people.
The menu was pretty extensive, considering -- more than two beef choices, more than two pasta choices, & a few "summer specials." I was not especially thrilled with the fish selection I ordered, but my friend's pork chops were so excellent I thought at first he'd mistakenly received steak... yes, that good... more proof toward the theory that you're best off ordering food which is native to where you are.
A few of the food combos they offered sounded creative & ambitious but maybe missed by . Not bad, only a little... I don't know... jumbled, perhaps. But I'd imagine it's still the only place you can order brie within 45 miles!
The wine list was surprising, & by that I mean, not limited to California. There was a Rhone, several Italians, & some upscale Australians as well. All reasonable mark-ups. Just don't expect fancy wine service, or fancy service at all for that matter... I'm sure their hiring-choices are limited in the area, but the staff is definitely a notch below the menu. The servers were are nice enough -- & the chef/owner does customary rounds toward the end of the evening, which is always a nice touch -- but overall, be prepared to pour your own wine & be hurried along a little more than is appropriate, etc.
The one major disappointment was the obviously pre-frozen creme brulee, although we were there on an unexpectedly busy night, & I think they were down to the bottom of the barrel, so to speak.
Prices at The Harvest -- as is the trade-off in smaller markets -- were excellent, probably $7-$8 less than you'd pay for a similar item in Des Moines. The quality is perhaps just a few dollars less... so overall... not a bad trade.
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