Throughout the Midwest, meeting planners have bountiful choices to give their attendees the ultimate dining experience. Here are a few premier choices for groups featuring signature items from chefs in the region.
Guests will be pleased to find an array of dining treats at the Isle Casino Hotel Waterloo, IA. Offering over 5,000 sq. ft. of flexible meeting space, along with 1,600 sq. ft. of pre-conference space, visitors can indulge their taste buds after a day of meetings.
Pete Shaner, Chef de Cuisine
Grilled Pear Salad + Chicken Dijonaise + Riesling
Visual appeal is abundant with both the salad and entrée. The salad, a combination of mixed greens wrapped in shaved cucumber with blackberries, raspberries & carrots and a raspberry vinaigrette, is visually appealing with its height and bright, bold colors.
The Chicken Dijonnaise is a classic dish, with Chef Shaner’s own twist. Taking a note from the classic Chicken Cordon Bleu, he stuffs the chicken breast with ham, cheese and spinach, then tops it with a Dijon cream sauce infused with saffron providing a bold flavor that pairs well with the saltiness of the ham. This dish is accompanied by rice pilaf with tasty and colorful zucchini, squash and bell peppers served in a parmesan crisp along with sautéed asparagus wrapped in a fire roasted pepper strip.
The Riesling complements this meal perfectly because of its high acidity. The acidity helps cut through the sweetness of the salad, as well as all the rich elements of the Dijonnaise. After a couple bites of something sweet, the palate begins to develop a tolerance to the sweetness while deadening the full flavor. The acid from this wine helps open the taste buds, allowing even more enjoyment of the dish.
Celebrating the untamed, pioneering American Spirit with a focus on classic cocktails, craft distillers and boutique wines curated by Sommelier Lindy Brown, this establishment offers an evolving menu to best accompany them. Since opening in 2011, they have received many accolades, both on the local and national level including two James Beard nominations for Chef Neal Brown and a listing as one of Esquire Magazine’s top 50 Bars last year.
Onion Rings with Bone Marrow Gravy + Farm Egg + Border War Cocktail
Crispy fried onion rings with bone marrow gravy and an over easy fried farm egg is a delicious small plate that has quickly become a guest favorite. The rings stay nice and crisp, the onions fresh, and the yolk blends perfectly with the gravy to add a delicious contrast.
They recommend pairing the Border War, a boozy, stirred cocktail that includes Templeton Rye whiskey, Los Nahuales Reposado Mescal, Yellow Chartreuse, Averna Amaro and Lemon bitters. The smokiness of the Mescal marries well with the Bone Marrow gravy, while the herbal notes from the Chartreuse keep it fresh and clean.
Famous for their commitment to working with local farmers and artisans, this venue creates unique dishes to honor their community’s diversity and homegrown goodness. Catering to groups of all sizes, One Eleven Main works with their local partners whenever possible to allow guests an experience of fresh abundance.
Executive Chef C. Ryan Boughton
Chili Sugar-cured Duck Breast with Sweet Potato Hash + Blaum Bros. Vodka and Blood Orange Martini
There is a large mallard festival nearby, so a duck dish is a nice nod to the regional festival. The duck is dry rubbed with a mixture of brown sugar, chili powder, cayenne, other spices and orange zest. After rendering the fat, the flesh is imbued with a wonderful savory, sweet and citrus flavor that plays very well with the earthiness of the hash.
Working with Galena’s recently opened distillery, One Eleven Main works hard to promote anyone producing unique food and drinks that make their city special. The blood orange is a nice bridge with the vodka and the duck. They keep it very simple with freshly squeezed blood orange juice, Triple sec, vodka and a splash of simple syrup, which is then stirred gently and strained.
The Capitol Plaza Hotel offers a full service restaurant, lounge, approximately 25,000 sq. ft. of banquet space, and is connected to a convention center. With the amount of traffic they see, they are no stranger to serving a multitude of guests. Executive Chef Guillermo Rivera has been creating culinary delights for six years at the hotel.
Black & Blue Pork Medallions + Sterling Cabernet
Pork Medallions are seared with blackened seasonings and brushed with a savory blueberry barbecue sauce. By combining the house made barbecue sauce with the blueberries, the sauce becomes a little sweeter and works very well with the salty pork. The texture of the sauce also complements the pan-fried pork medallions.
This dish pairs well with a Sterling Cabernet. This particular wine has a great fruit flavor along with spice, complementing the saltiness of the pork and the sweetness of the barbecue sauce.