378 Main St.
Dubuque Iowa 52001United States
The atmosphere can be a tad frenetic at times, but good seasonal Midwest cuisine and good service await.
If you're looking for a good meal at a special place, downtown Dubuque's Pepper Sprout is a great choice. The upscale restaurant has an urban chic vibe, with a narrow but deep floor space, pressed tin ceiling and exposed brick walls. Colored-glass bottles and candle holders provide splashes of color. The wait staff is friendly and efficient, quickly seating you, and apologizing for a brief five-minute wait. Drinks and water are replenished regularly, and you never have to wait long for your food -- although the food is worth waiting for. Meals, which change with the season, are flavorful and well prepared. The summer bruschetta appetizer ($7.95), for example, featured crisp toast points topped with expertly roasted asparagus, corn, and tomatoes mixed with cilantro, red onion, and fresh mozzarella. And innovation abounds, as with the peanut-crusted walleye fillet entree, which was served with a shrimp, andouille and Creole sauce, and the pretzel-crusted pork with Champagne mustard sauce and smashed, roasted garlic sour cream potatoes. (Entre prices range from about $18 to $38.) Make sure to carefully peruse the menu, which contains fun, food-related quotes. And let the staff know if you're celebrating a special occasion; if so, dessert is on the house. Our only gripe: You have to buy most of the wines by the bottle, and the house wine was so-so.