Trellis Cafe 1

Trellis Cafe is the first location that I’m judging food at for the 2016 Dine Iowa Grand Tasting Gala event.

This is my third year of judging for this event.

Chef Robert Anderson and I are the main judges. It is a privilege to get to work with him, the IRA staff, and members from both the Soy andBeefCouncils.

During the next couple of weeks, leading up to the October 6, 2016 event, we have 9 different restaurants to visit. These restaurants are all across Iowa. 

Trellis Cafe

Trellis, a café by Chef/Owner Lisa LaValle, opened in December 2013. This restaurant specializes in serving locally sourced ingredients and a delicious lunch menu Tuesday through Sunday (11 .a.m – 2 p.m.) The restaurant is located in the Greater Des Moines Botanical Garden.


Des Moines Botanical Center


Inside, you’ll find beautiful flower and gardens throughout the premise, but once you’re inside the cafe you’ll find a beautiful and relaxing cafe with great views of downtown Des Moines.

Trellis cafe outdoor patio trellis cafe seating 2 Trelli's Cafe seating trellis cafe bar


The Meal

Trellis Cafe Tablesetting

Rules: With this event, each competitor will prepare a main entrée recipe utilizing Braveheart Black Angus Beef Short Rib, donated by Performance Food Group (at least six ounces of cooked beef must be used). Additionally, each competitor will prepare a Tofu (soft-silken or water packed) side dish or sauce (at least a 1⁄4 cup of tofu must be used). 

Main Dish

Chef Diego Critelli created a delicious smoked beef rib along with some smoked tofu along with Iowa tomato risotto with mustard-hummus foam. 

The presentation of the dish was really neat. We were all tricked thinking the bone was on the rib still but Chef Diego had replaced the bone tofu. It was a really unique way to use tofu on a piece of beef. Since tofu does a great job of absorbing flavors, this was able to grab some of the smoked flavors off of the short rib. 


trellis cafe shortrib

Another outstanding feature on the plate was his foam. Yes, foam. Chef Diego took a quarter cup of water from the tofu and a quarter cub of water from the garbanzo beans and blended it on high until the foam began to build and hold in place. There was a flavor within the foam that was great too. We discovered that it was mustard! 🙂 

trellis cafe judging plate_2


trellis cafe judging plate


Trellis is a restaurant that I need to put on my list of places to try over lunch. Their lunch menu had some great options. Make a stop in for lunch, or plan on trying this at the Iowa Restaurant Association Grand Tasting Gala.


About Nick Lucs

Nick 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 .

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