DECEMBER 6, 2016



Ample seating and soothing decor await diners at West Des Moines' newest eatery.

SNEAK PEEK: BLU TORO OPENS THURSDAY
 
By Wini Moranville 
  
Get ready for another irresistible restaurant interior from Annie Baldwin, the restaurateur behind Magnolia Wine Kitchen. Her completely different--but equally dashing-- Blu Toro opens  this Thursday, Dec. 8, at 3 p.m. She invited me in for a sneak peek just yesterday.
  
What a beauty! Natural wood and neutral colors, with ocean-blue accents, dominate the rustic-refined decor, which includes drum lights, an expansive Day of the Dead mural above the soon-to-be-bustling open kitchen, and--always my favorite--plenty of banquette seating.
  
I'm equally excited about the menu: Encased in velvety cowhide covers, it opens to a variety of Mexican and Southwest-inspired specialties. Appetizers include chips and popular trimmings (salsa, guacamole, queso), but also travel beyond, with oysters, shrimp ceviche, and a seafood tower speaking to the coastal side of Mexican food. For main dishes, expect great range, with street tacos on homemade flour tortillas (at $5 each) to scallops, sea bass, beef short ribs and other $25-plus entrees.
  
Something else tells me steak-lovers are in good hands, too. A bone-in ribeye and tenderloin filet are on the menu; better yet, Blu Toro's culinary director is Josh McCurnin, who once headed up the kitchen at Fleming's Prime Steakhouse.
  
For dessert, a lime tart, a meringue-topped butter cake, and a Mexican-chocolate brownie sundae, served in a small skillet with brandy butterscotch sauce and fried ice cream, all veer refreshingly off the beaten path.

Also impressive: The bar features more than 70 tequilas, some of which will make their way into the numerous craft margaritas and other cocktails.  
  
Blu Toro is in West Glen Town Center at 5585 Mills Civic Parkway in West Des Moines; (515) 223-2302.
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A lump of coal and a candle--and you're set for a fine day in a counting house, according to Ebenezer Scrooge, well-played here by Richard Maynard.

HOLIDAY CLASSICS: PART 1:
ANNOYING THE DICKENS OUT OF SCROOGE 
 
Ebenezer Scrooge has another restless night as Repertory Theater of Iowa once again presents the holiday classic "A Christmas Carol," a stage adaptation of Charles Dickens' timeless tale of redemption. Richard Maynard returns in the role of the crotchety old skinflint whose life is turned around by apparitions--or dreams inspired by "an undigested bit of beef."
  
Catch any of 11 performances Dec. 9- 22 at the Des Moines Social Club's Kum & Go Theater. Tickets are $28-$33, with discounts for students and seniors. The schedule, other details and ticket info are here.
The antics of a delightful, presumably inanimate, figure will keep you on your toes.

HOLIDAY CLASSICS, PART 2:
CAVORTING WITH SWANS AT THE BALLET 
 
Ballet Des Moines presents its 15th annual production of Tchaikovsky's "The Nutcracker" Dec. 8-11 at Hoyt Sherman Place. Ballet Des Moines' adaptation of this holiday classic features the resident professional company and more than 300 local student dancers. Tickets for evening and matinee shows are $25-$60 at the Hoyt Sherman box office or here
The Civic Center's Janet Albanese takes dsm backstage during setup for "Beautiful." 

READ 'BEAUTIFUL' REVIEW TOMORROW 
 
"Beautiful--The Carole King Musical" opens tonight, with performances through Sunday, Dec. 11, at the Des Moines Civic Center. Look for Michael Morain's review of the show tomorrow morning on dsmmagazine.com and on our Facebook page.
  
The production company arrived in seven truckloads late Monday afternoon. A crew of 60--including 40 local carpenters, electricians and others--unloaded scores of crates last night and set the stage this morning, starting with lighting and flooring, then filling in the sets and props.
  
The show tells the inspiring story of King's rise to stardom, from being part of a hit songwriting team to becoming one of the most successful solo acts in popular music history.
 
The cast of this national touring company includes Iowa native Curt Bouril, who grew up in Cresco and majored in theater arts at the University of Iowa.
  
Most tickets are $35-$95 and, as of this morning, some seats remain available for all performances. Contact the Civic Center box office or get tickets online here. 

Tiffany Tauscheck of the Greater Des Moines Partnership discusses the new art route with Business Record reporter Perry Beeman.

THAT'S 20,234 STEPS FOR MAN . . . 
 
The Greater Des Moines Public Art Foundation and partners recently completed most of the painted dots and chevrons that designate the new Art Route Des Moines and art locations along the downtown path. The Business Record reports that the route covers 20,234 steps, or 6.6 miles, passes 90 businesses and includes 87 art pieces.  

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