A and D are experienced food critics, writers, publishers and diners.
A is a successful cookbook author, recipe creator, food writer, extraordinary cook and was a test kitchen chef for several major television cooking series, including The Great Chefs of the World; The Great Chefs of New Orleans; The Great Chefs of the U.S.; The Great Chefs of the Southwest; and The Great Chefs Jazz Brunches.
A develops recipes for specialty food producers and distributors using their unique products, and together A and D write and publish custom newsletters for those food producers featuring A's recipes for their customers.
A is a Professional Member of the International Culinary Professionals Association and the American Culinary Federation. Both are members of Slow Food.
D is an avocational gourmand, international food and restaurant reviewer writing under the pseudonym "Le Gastronomer," an author of 8 books and a culinary publisher. D has cultivated a life of gourmandise on four continents, dining in, savoring and reviewing many of the world's great as well as unknown restaurants.
Both A and D have solid, working knowledge of various cuisines, techniques, specialty ingredients, U.S. and world wines, and the practice, service, lore and Joy of the Table.
Having each returned to Iowa from lives spent in the food meccas of the west and the east, they believe Des Moines to be one of the great treasures of American living and one of the developing culinary bright spots of the Midwest.
A and D dine out often together (and separately) in the Des Moines area, each spending their own money, not that of a local newspaper--mainstream or alternative. They are totally unconnected to any restaurant and are committed to impartially focusing on the quality of the dining experience from the customer's point of view. Their only interest is superb food, well-prepared and well-served at a reasonable cost for the experience. That is what they write about.
Neither A nor D are known to local restaurant owners or chefs. For those few who do have a passing familiarity with them, it's only because both are fairly regular customers of the restaurants, returning often when the dining experience is worthy. They are similar to the Everyman and Everywoman of literature; representative and little different from any other customer who goes to a restaurant hoping only for "superb food, well-prepared and well-served at a reasonable cost for the experience."
They are not into the 'foodie' scene, although they can be found almost daily at the Gateway Market. They are anonymous and are in this for the food and the Joy of the Table, and they hope their experiences will help you to have great dining experiences in the Des Moines area--and avoid those less than great experiences.
Both A and D are probably somewhat ruthless in their critiques, both of the dishes and the operation of the restaurants. They don't 'coat' the truth with a verbal 'sauce' designed to provide a mediocre restaurant with a soft landing, or give them a 'second chance' because of an 'off night.' If a restaurant charges $70 to $100 or more for dinner, it doesn't deserve an 'off night' and A and D probably won't offer a 'second chance' to merit a more positive review. Like you, they measure the cost against the satisfaction. And pretentious, 'faux-celebrity chefs' and owners who have more ego than honest good food and service are particular targets for their criticism.
As restaurants (and chefs) age, they begin to rest on their laurels and past history, even as the business loses its appeal for the customers. A and D do return to review the experience periodically; after all, chefs come and go, menus change, and--now and then--a chef or restaurant owner reads what A and D write and works to improve their restaurant and its offering.
But, there is always that wretched category of restaurants described as, "Let's try it again just to see if it's as bad as ever." Usually, it is.
Des Moines has a long and illustrious history of great restaurants. A and D value them and passionatley care about the Joys of the Table.