February — especially one with such unrelenting winter weather as this one has had — can put a serious damper on the business of local restaurants.
That’s one reason the Cedar Rapids Metro Economic Alliance wanted to keep Cedar Rapids Restaurant Week alive.
The event was formerly the purview of GO Cedar Rapids. When that organization was shuttered last year, the Economic Alliance decided to take up the annual celebration of local dining.
“The impact on our locally owned and operated restaurants is really felt during the month of February,” said Economic Alliance Communications Manager Melissa McCarville. “This initiative really meets our mission, because it really helps our local businesses succeed,”
With special dishes and prices at each participating restaurant, the goal is to entice people to get out of their houses and into local eateries.
This year, seventeen restaurants are highlighted. In addition to the special menus, which will be available Feb. 22 to March 2, each restaurant also will participate in the “Fork and Knife Feast,” a one-night only tasting event on Feb. 21.
“It truly is a preview event to what patrons will see at Restaurant Week,” McCarville said. “It gives everyone a taste of what their specialty menus might include.”
The night will include more than good eats. It also will feature local food producers and growers and beverages distributors.
“It’s a sampling event for 500 people, with food, drinks from different restaurants, as well as stage entertainment, some really exciting demonstrations for people who love food,” Economic Alliance events planner Jenn Draper said.
Hopefully, she said, guests will go home feeling inspired about the local food scene.
“It’s all about, how can we make sure we get as much attention for these restaurants as possible?” McCarville said.
If You Go
What: Fork & Knife Feast
Where: Veterans Memorial Building, 50 Second Ave. Bridge, Cedar Rapids
When: 6 to 8:30 p.m. Feb. 21
Special menu offerings for restaurant week
Black Sheep Social Club
600 First St. SE, Cedar Rapids, (319) 200-7070, iamtheblacksheep.com
Lunch: Blackened salmon belly tostada — smoked beet pico de gallo, pickled onions, black bean puree, avocado relish, cotija cheese, spicy mayo, black bean tortilla. Dinner: Koji fried chicken thigh — herb brassica, fermented root vegetables, black garlic-Wonder Bread mousse, spiced benne seed, sorghum-soy caramel syrup.
1202 Third St. SE, Suite 102, Cedar Rapids, (319) 200-2525, cauchorestaurant.com
Three-course menu, $19. First: guacamole and salsa with housemade corn chips. Second: choice of pork or vegetarian cheese pupusas — two masa cakes stuffed with cotija cheese, topped with either al pastor (pork), or pepita (pumpkin seed) chorizo, plus curtido and beans, served with a microgreens salad. Third: Plantains Doria — fried plantains tossed in pineapple caramel and cinnamon sugar.
The Class Act
The Hotel at Kirkwood Center, 7725 Kirkwood Blvd. SW, Cedar Rapids, (319) 848-8777, classactdining.com
Lunch, $10: Parmesan chicken sandwich, with choice of soup, salad or french fries. Dinner, $25: Persian braised beef, served with boiled egg, potatoes, wilted spinach, pickled vegetables. Dessert, $7: peanut butter and jelly — peanut chiboust cream, strawberry sorbet, banana short bread, chocolate sauce.
219 Second St. SE, Cedar Rapids, (319) 366-3177, cobblehillrestaurant.com
Three-course menu, $25. All options can be vegetarian. Grilled Greek lamb sausage with braised chickpeas, yogurt, parsley and lemon. Linguine pasta with braised pancetta, poached egg yolk, black pepper and pecorino. Chocolate bonbons and fruit sorbet.
1006 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids, (319) 320-9992, fongspizza.com/cedarrapids
Lunch, $7: Two slices and drink or one slice, side salad and drink. Dinner, $25: Choice of one appetizer and one 16 inch pizza; appetizer choices — chips and pineapple salsa, honey and garlic smokies or pepperjack Chinese cheese sticks; pizza choices: crab rangoon, pork belly pie or Southwestern honey and garlic.
Huston Rogers Steakhouse
Longbranch Hotel, 90 Twixt Town Rd. NE, Cedar Rapids, (319) 377-6386, facebook.com/hustonrogerssteakhouse
Meat and cheese appetizer, $7 — smoked kielbasa, aged cheddar, roasted red pepper, gherkins. Braised beef short rib, $27 — with tomato and beet gastrique on white cheddar horseradish red potatoes, paired with Alta Vista Malbec. Oscar roulade, $35 — flank steak, crab, asparagus and hollandaise, paired with Hahn Pinot Noir. Bourbon-glazed smoked brisket, $25 — with jalapeno corn cakes topped with fried onions, paired with Wente Cabernet Sauvignon. Banana foster bread pudding, $8.
Lion Bridge Brewing Company
59 16th Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids, (319)-200-4460, lionbridgebrewing.com
Three pork mole or vegan braised jackfruit mole tacos, $12 — choice of pork or jackfruit braised in Compensation Dark Mild beer, topped with housemade mole sauce, Mexican-inspired slaw with cabbage, cilantro, onions, corn, jalapeņos and a side of housemade salsa verde. Smoked brisket with blackberry gastrique, $17 — with mustard dry rub on jalapeno cheddar polenta cakes. Olde No. 17 Irish Stout chili, $4 cup or $6 bowl. Honey garlic chicken panini, $12 — white cheddar, fried chicken, housemade honey garlic soy sauce. Cherry chocolate cheesecake, $7.
Local Pour Street Food
302 Third Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids, (319) 364-4042, facebook.com/LPSTREETFOOD
Pork belly focaccia, $12.95 — with burnt honey, curried white bean hummus, basil and grilled asparagus.
1100 First St. SW, Cedar Rapids, (319) 200-2199, lucitasdinercr.com
Vegan stir fry — cactus, chickpeas, onions, tomatoes, seasoning; posole — pork, hominy, red pepper, spices; homemade chips and queso; lime, strawberry or prickly pear margarita.
NaRa Thai Cuisine
125 Blairs Ferry Rd., Suite 102, Marion, (319) 200-4004, narathai.net
Lunch, $10: Choose two appetizers — crab rangoon, pot stickers or egg rolls. Choose one entree with chicken, beef, pork, shrimp or tofu. Choice of pad thai — rice noodle, egg, green onion and bean sprouts stir-fried in homemade sauce with ground peanuts; red curry — red pepper, green pepper, bamboo shoots and basil leaf; Thai fried rice — egg, yellow onion, tomato and green onion; or pad kee mao — wide rice noodle, egg, bell pepper, carrot, basil leaf and green onion stir-fried in spicy brown sauce.
Dinner, $22: choose two appetizers — crab rangoon, pot stickers or egg rolls. Choose one entree — hang lay pork rib in Thai herbs, slow cooked with spicy gravy and topped with sliced ginger and green onion; homok talay seafood — scallops, shrimp, calamari and mussels in red curry with egg, coconut milk, steamed cabbage and basil; kaeng pled ped yang — roasted duck in red curry with pineapple, tomato, basil, red & green pepper; racy pad thai — rice noodle in spicy chili sauce, egg, carrot, bell pepper, basil and green onion with extra chicken and shrimp. Dessert:
Paradise Bar and Grill
5200 Fountains Dr. NE, Suite 100, Cedar Rapids, (319) 318-2070, paradiseofcr.com
Lunch, $11; larger portion dinner, $22. Pick two appetizers: cauliflower wings, crispy baby corn, chili chicken or lamb chukka. Pick one entree, served with garlic naan: butter chicken, coconut chicken or vegetarian kadai paneer. Pick one dessert: double ka meeta, gulab jamoon, or ras malai. Pick one drink: mango lassi or soda.
The Pig and Porter
1028 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids, (319) 200-4414, thepigandporter.com
Three course menu, $25: First: choice of fried pork tail nugget with sweet mayo, nori, sesame seeds, eel sauce; or roasted brussels sprouts with kimchee and sesame seeds. Second: choice of dan dan noodles — spicy pork ragu, chilies, scallions and peanuts; or burger with American cheese, pickles, onion and special sauce. Third: warm dark chocolate chip cookie.
Popoli Ristorante & Sullivan’s Bar
101 Third Ave. SW, Cedar Rapids, (319) 363-1248, popolicr.com
Smoked Cornish game hen with duck confit greens, Creole sauce and cornbread.
217 Third St. SE, Cedar Rapids, (319) 200-4217, CRPub217.com
German-style pork tenderloin, $10, topped with spaetzle, sweet and sour apple slaw and finished with housemade honey mustard, served with a side. All-American spring chicken salad, $10 — romaine lettuce and spinach salad with chicken breast, cucumbers, strawberries and blueberries, topped with goat cheese and almonds, served with housemade strawberry vinaigrette.
The Quarter Barrel Arcade & Brewery
616 Second Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids, (319) 200-4140, thequarterbarrel.com
Deconstructed PB&J — green grapes, aged sherry vinegar, and roasted peanut oil on a crostini. Rutabaga latke — fried rutabaga pancakes with fried shallots and ginger labneh. Lamb manti — Turkish lamb dumplings with pomegranate, persimmon, fresh mint and citrus crema.
DoubleTree by Hilton Hotel Cedar Rapids Convention Complex, 350 First Ave. NE, Cedar Rapids, (319) 731-4444, facebook.com/CR350First350
Lunch, $10: Red hot chicken — red-hot tossed fried chicken on Texas toast with apple wood smoked bacon and provolone. Dinner, $25: Braised short ribs with coconut rice grits, broccolini, pickled red onion and 350 First salad.
White Star Ale House
305 Second Ave. SE, Cedar Rapids, (319) 362-2000, whitestaralehouse.com
Smoked pork belly appetizer, $11.95 — pork belly bites with bourbon bacon barbecue sauce, served with jalapeno bread. Spinach and quinoa salad, $6.95 — baby spinach with quinoa, black bean salsa, heirloom grape tomatoes and citric orange dressing. Boneless pork rib-eye, $16.95 — served with sausage apple cranberry dressing and choice of side. Braised lamb shank, $15.95 — served with fontina asparagus risotto. Chicken caprese, $14.95 — baked chicken breast stuffed with tomato, basil and mozzarella, topped with caprese heirloom tomato relish, served over turmeric rice. Marinated portobello mushroom, $13.95 — served with garden vegetables and pesto linguine. Chocolate mousse torte, $4.95.