Friday, November 11, 2011

Iowa eats: Starboard Market, Clear Lake

A few weekends ago, I drove up to northern Iowa to visit my mom and stepdad before they leave for Arizona for the winter.  It was a beautiful fall day, and I was driving through Clear Lake over the noon hour. So I decided to stop at one of my favorite delis in Iowa, Starboard Market in downtown Clear Lake.

I discovered Starboard Market when someone treated me to lunch there at work.  For you Des Moines folks, Starboard Market is a lot like Palmer's Deli, but on a smaller scale.  The restaurant has soups, sandwiches, wraps and salads on the menu, plus amazing desserts like lemon bars, chocolate chip cookies and cheesecakes.  A lot of people were ordering the cheesecakes when I stopped in.

The deli doesn't have a lot of seating, so I headed outside for a little picnic lunch at the nearby Clear Lake.  There were several open picnic tables right by the water.  I loved soaking in all this beautiful fall scenery.

I enjoy trying a little bit of everything whenever I eat at Starboard Market.  This time, I ordered the salad sampler platter.

I always like to order a pasta salad, and so I picked the Greek salad with feta cheese and olives.  Just for fun, I also ordered the cornbread salad.  It was very good, although not at all what I expected.  The cornbread salad was savory, not sweet, dressed with mayonnaise and studded with red peppers, herbs and green olives.  Unusual combination, but it worked.

But my favorite was the caramel apple salad.  It was so good!  I'm not exactly sure what the ingredients were, other than the apples.  The dressing was caramel-flavored (maybe vanilla pudding, Cool Whip & caramel topping?), and the salad was topped with a crunchy sprinkle of cinnamon and brown sugar.  I would love to find the recipe to make this salad at home.

Starboard Market is famous for its cornbread, so I ordered it on the side.  The cornbread lived up to its reptutation.  It was light, delicate and perfect.  (Sorry for the terrible picture.  I was trying to be "stealthy" as a family of tourists walked by.)

If you're ever driving north on Interstate 35, maybe on a trip to the Twin Cities, take a few extra minutes to visit Starboard Market in Clear Lake.  Or stop at one of the many other restaurants in downtown Clear Lake.  It's a much better alternative to the fast-food choices along the Interstate, and it's just a couple miles out of the way.

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