Council Bluffs has a new restaurant that will definitely be getting some good press. 712 (the area code of that part of the state) is located off Madison Avenue in an old strip mall. That area of Council Bluffs is trying to compete with the Metro Crossing shopping drain, and 712 may do its part to help draw persons towards the “Old Mall” area of Council Bluffs.
712 is la bit hard to find, as it is located on the east side of I-80,, on Madison Ave. Their sign doesn’t really stand out very well. A person will need to be looking for the restaurant to find it. The hostess stand is staffed with a friendly person that quickly finds us a seat. The restaurant is an open-concept, meaning you are out in the main area and there aren’t any nooks and crannies.
One of the first things that we noticed is the loud roar of groups of persons having a great time. The acoustics are horrible. This truly is the only negative thing we can think of with this establishment. It is difficult to carry on a conversation at a normal volume. In all fairness, there was a large, boisterous group in the center of the restaurant at a long high-top table . They had obviously been there a while and they were having a good time. But really, putting a sound absorbing material in the ceiling might be a good first step and carpeting a second step, or some padded barrier partial walls or even plants might help absorb some of the noise.
There is a wonderful mural on one wall, and a long bar with seating along a second wall. The third wall is blank and maybe fabric or sound absorbing something would be a good idea. The fourth wall is the front windows that looks out on ample parking.
THE FOOD AND BEVERAGES:
The second thing we notice is the extensive list of beers, wines and specialty drinks they offer from their fully stocked bar. Patty is debating on her choice of beer, so our waitress retrieves her a few free samples of her top choices. Nice touch. We place our drink orders and then look for our meal options.
When I say the menu isn’t extensive, that isn’t a bad thing. They have starters that sound intriguing (pork belly sliders $12, meatballs $9.50, housemaid Fried Pickles $6, Crab Cakes $15 and House-made Tater tots $8).
They have salads ($8 to $10) that came in bowls big enough to feed a small family. Chopped salad, Caesar, Kale, Beet and Goat Cheese. Their sides included Fried Brussel Sprouts, Poblano Mac & cheese, Seasonal Vegetables, Housemade Gnocchi and side salad ($4 to $6). They have a Kid’s menu which would definitely please our grandchildren (burger, grilled cheese, hand breaded chicken fingers, Mac & Cheese, Cheese Flatbread) ranging from $5.50 to $8.50. Their “Hand Held” section got our orders for the night. They also have a fork & Knife section featuring steak, pork chop, chicken, short rib and roasted salmon. ($17 to $25). The roasted salmon, creamy farro, oyster mushroom, charred leeks, stout mustard sauce and broccolini would have been my second choice. The dinners are all served with sides that enhance the umami experience you are going to have at this place! What about Plum Creek Chicken which comes with gnocchi, house made pancetta, half chicken and chicken jus. Or your choice may be the 12 ounce Ribeye with fingerling potatoes, wild mushrooms, leeks and marrow bone butter and demi-glace.
712 uses fresh, local ingredients whenever possible and we can’t wait to go back in the height of produce season and see what they come up with for flavor combinations. This chef has a fantastic sense of taste combinations.
Patty tried the Fig & Ham Flatbread ($10.50) which consisted of crispy pork belly, prosciutto, fig jam, Fontina cheese, baby arugula and balsamic glaze. Patty couldn’t say enough good about this meal. She did think this would have also worked well for an appetizer. She shared a side order of the Brussel sprouts which were cooked perfectly and seasoned well with sautéed red onions and some type of soft cheese which was an outstanding combination.
Jim declared the 712 Burger ($14) “the best burger I’ve had in a long time”. The 8 ounce beef patty was cooked to his requested medium well perfectly. The brioche bun was outstanding, the onion marmalade and white cheddar melted and combined with the roasted garlic aioli and pork belly to make a meal that Jim is ready to repeat. He ordered the side salad and received deliciously prepared French Fries. The fries were cooked to the perfect degree of crispness and stacked in a metal cup which helped them retain their heat. The fries were delivered piping hot and were also a hit. So lucky to get a bonus order of fries. The side salad arrive quickly once it was brought to the waitress attention that was the original order. A second negative for the night was Jim’s pet peeve of the mixed spring greens and endive leaves that were cut so big it was difficult to eat them.
Rick tried the 712 Cubano sandwich ($10.50) which consisted of roasted pork, ham, whole grain mustard, aioli, house pickles and gruyere cheese. Rick declared his sandwich and fries as “Great! Liked it all”. Definitely a popular choice.
Sarah went out on a limb and tried the Butternut Sandwich ($9) which consisted of coffee rubbed butternut squash slices, kale, roasted garlic aioli, caramelized onion in a maple glaze served with delicious piping hot sweet potato fries. WOW! What flavor combinations! A tad on the sweet side and so delicious. And yes, it is served on a ciabatta roll. With a half order of the Brussel sprouts, it was a meal to be savored!
Our waitress was attentive and quickly removed plates (too quickly once as Sarah was slowly finishing the delicious meal). The water glasses were refilled and refills of our beverages were offered and quickly retrieved.
The noise was at a level that allowed one to talk to friends
Overall, the noise level was the only deterrent of what was otherwise a perfect evening out with good friends and good eats. Fix the noise, and 712 is a winner!