Verde offers spicy delicacies in Mexican cuisine, says Doc

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Without irony, I’m spending a Taco Tuesday at Verde, 1507 State St., Bettendorf, a contemporary Mexican restaurant located at the foot of the Iowa side of the New 74 Bridge, for my 1st out of 52 reviews this year. Verde opened close enough a year ago. Chef Connor Larson’s dream child has grown legs and learned not to crawl but to run in this volatile economy.

While other restaurants have been forced to close their doors, take days off and change their business model. Verde seems at home, offering a smaller, more intimate relationship with his clients; serious customers? I question my use of the word here, client. No, I’m not breaking a 4th wall, I really don’t feel comfortable calling myself or calling you my readers as a client, going to Verde. Let’s put a pin in it and come back to it in about a paragraph. (Maybe I’m breaking the 4th wall here.)

Every day you can find Chef Connor, making a freshly ground masa tortilla, to serve his Carnitas tacos. Or a homemade hot sauce that on its own could be bottled and sold for a million dollars in my opinion. The amazing thing to consider here, (niderie wanted) a truly gluten-free and locally sourced dining experience and cuisine, is dancing alluring salsa right here in Bettendorf. While everyone is saving time and money, Verde has found his way back to basics of “cooking” instead of unwrapping and cutting plastic bags to open them.
Chef Larson, has framed his path through his culinary arts. Learn from the chef who gave the “boy doing the dishes” to learn a few things. That alone deserves a minimum of respect with what is produced on a daily basis. Starting his early years cooking on a 60-course rotating menu with unwritten recipes for a retirement community, he’s had his good days and bad, compliments and complaints. You could say that he has had his day and that he has earned his title among his peers on the Quebec culinary scene.

Carnitas Tacos food served with a homemade hot sauce. Don’t ask for Tabasco or Cholula, or you’ll be escorted to the door by a beefy guy named Big Mike. I’m joking. Or maybe not. Trust me on this. If you consider that amazing first bite of food to be a sexual experience, it wouldn’t be a first kiss. This plate looks more like a former Russian gymnast named Katarina, who you met in Mexico City while fleeing the cartel and she threw a Scorpion, two Eggo waffles, and a bottle of tequila under the covers. God I’m missing my time in the Peace Corp. But anyway, these tacos are made from dreams come true and probably from ingredients you’ll find in a kitchen like Verde.

Verde offers spicy delicacies in Mexican cuisine, says Doc

Cauliflower in the style of elote. Charred cauliflower with cauliflower-based sauce, chipotle and carmalized whey, fermented molar salt, cotja and herbs. If you asked me 25 years ago if I would be happy to sit down for a plate of cauliflower, I would get my parents slapped my mouth for my response to you. Yet that’s what this plaque did to me. Slapped me in the mouth. I can’t describe in words how amazing this dish tastes. So I’ll just watch you for the next 30 seconds in disbelief. Set your timer now.

30 seconds have passed. Let’s come back to it. When you go, order this. Do it for me. As I sit down and listen to this man, I can feel the emotion in his voice. Like many of us, Chef Connor has had a hard time. He found his way out of the darkness with the click of a light bulb for an instant. Sitting in his R&D kitchen, preparing this dish. Cauliflower like elote, he brought it back and gave it meaning and joy. Is this dish his magnum opus? I guess we’ll all have to wait and see what gets served next.

Back from our 4th wall break. As I sit at the bar here, sipping a house cocktail specially crafted by the wonderful Bri, Connor’s wife. I ask him how he feels knowing that at least 20 cars have passed us through the window on State St., in the last 5 paragraphs going to Micky Ds or Taco Hell to buy a 1.29 burger or ground beef Taco. ” I agree with that. I want people to come here for an experience, not for a meal. This is where we conclude. While other restaurants are cavemen drawing on the walls after clubbing unsuspecting seals, Chef Connor and his team at Verde paint the Sistine Chapel and carefully concoct beauty pieces for your mouth. You are not customers at his place, you are a gastronomic tourist there to admire his artisanal creations on a plate.

Verde prides itself on a more intimate style seating. Calling to reserve is appreciated. Worried about your paperback? Isn’t it affordable and worth every penny of your allowance.

My restaurant score of 52 for Verde. 9.3 out of 10

Your friend in food,

Doc

Verde offers spicy delicacies in Mexican cuisine, says Doc
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