This month marks more than just the usual Yankees appearance in the
World Series -it's also the one-year anniversary of Street Smart Fatboy.
So as the Yankees continue to knock the ball out of the park, it seems
only fitting that I'm reviewing the work of one of Iowa's biggest Yankee
fans as well as the one person who has been my biggest eating influence
over the years.
Do you remember what you were doing Oct. 18, 1977, as Reggie Jackson
hit his third home run in game six, leading the Yankees to their 21st
world championship? The Fatboy does. It may have been the first of a
thousand big-ol' food feasts. Steve Little, who is a long-time
restaurateur now at Winston's in Des Moines, was preparing what might
have been one of his first mass-group feedings in a duplex his
grandmother once owned just off Ingersoll Avenue.
The pan of lasagna he was putting together cost more than $100 (back
then a hundred bucks was a whole lotta money for anything, much less a
pan of zags), and weighed in at 25 pounds if it was an ounce! I recall
watching the cheese as it bubbled, sniffing the scents from the oven
that wafted over the duplex and headed down the street, and waiting in
agony for nearly an hour after the pan landed on the counter before
being allowed allowed near the kitchen. It was not a pretty sight.
But the wait was worth it. This turned out to be one of the best,
biggest pans of zags that I have ever been lucky enough to have feasted
The kind of care and patience put into that feast has been relived
time and time again under Little's watchful eye for the past 21 years.
He's currently at Winston's at 601 Locust St., on the skywalk in
downtown Des Moines.
To say that Little's culinary skills and restaurant endeavors have
seen many many ups and downs (not the least of which were two floods) is
an understatement. But if the fixings we tore into last week indicate
anything, it is that maybe the best is yet to come.
A loin to love
Take the fried tenderloin sandwich, the special at Winston's on the
day I visited. It was so big that after I quartered it, it fed four
people. Now, I know that claiming a tenderloin is the biggest is like
saying the pizza is the best or the beer is the coldest, because someone
somewhere will jump up and down and make a liar out of you.
Nevertheless, I will say this: I have never eaten a loin as good as that
one. And rarely have I ever eaten anything as big as the loin o' the
The only problem was after we cut the bun into four chunks there was
only enough bun to make a finger sandwich but we each had a chunk of
loin bigger than the original bun! We needed to order one sandwich and
Other Winston's wonders
We also tried the English grinder, a sandwich that featured hamburger
mixed with Italian sausage; covered with sauteed onions, mancini peppers
and provolone cheese, and baked to perfection. "Outstanding" is as good
a word as any to describe that entree.
Speaking of delicious, eating a bowl of Little's clam chowder might be
just about as much fun as one can have with clothes on! I'm not sure how
a city boy from Des Moines can brew up chowder like he does, but it
definitely has something to do with his love of cooking and using the
best ingredients. The soups change daily and rarely stray too far from
right on the money.
Also on target was the shrimp pasta salad -six shrimps as big as my
thumb; diced red, yellow and green sweet peppers; red onions; tomato and
black olives over a Fatboy-size pile of penne noodles with splash of
Little's homage Italian dressing. Wowza! All his dressings are homemade,
by the way. My guess is that any salad you try will work real well.
All of Little's food is served in portions fit for a king, and the
service is second to none. Craig Laws, a partner in this and in a couple
of other restaurants that Little has operated over the years, makes sure
things are as they should be from that moment you walk in the door.
Nearly every day, both Little and Laws are at Winston's, making sure
things flow smoothly.
Ready for sophomore year
Just a short rambling note about the Fatboy's column turning 1: Thanks
to everyone who has written, faxed, e-mailed, called, shouted or jumped
up and down this past year. Knowing that folks are reading and laughing
and scratching their heads makes it all worthwhile. But please, keep up
the banter. I have stumbled on many great eateries and made many new
acquaintances this past year. Thanks for a great year!