Norwegian culture flourishes in Decorah, Iowa. It's reflected in the folk art, embroidered costumes, and often- in the theater productions. Some locals speak with the drawn-out vowels of a Norwegian-style brogue. Descendants of the original Norwegians that settled in Decorah often prepare traditional dishes eaten by the Norwegian families that settled in the area centuries ago.
Located at 117 West Water Street, is the romantic Rubaiyat Restaurant. The eatery is named after a book of poetry written over 1,000 years ago by Omar Khayyam, a Persian poet, and astronomer. The owners, Andy and Kim Bonnet, believe that poems are an acknowledgment of enjoying life and seizing the most from each day. This energy is transmitted throughout the atmosphere.
The building Rubaiyat calls home, was completed in the 1890’s and is reflective of the architecture of the time period. Over the years, the building has been home to a number of businesses including a drug store, a jewelry store, a hardware store, and even a speak-easy during prohibition. After purchasing the building in 2007, the owners uncovered the original tin ceiling and the brick walls. Lucky for them, even the original front doors were located upstairs and later restored to their former splendor.
The restaurant offers local food and flavor skillfully prepared by Chef Andy. The menu reflects his diverse culinary influences, including Norwegian. Chef Andy obtains high-quality food products and purchases locally when available. The restaurant boasts a large wine and beer list and also serves martinis. Happy Hour is fro5 pmpm - 6 pm Wednesday through Saturday. The restaurant offers a party room that will host an event for up to 50 people. For reservations, just give them a call at 1-563-382-WINE (9463).
A favorite appetizer of regulars are the shrimp wraps with blueberry pomegranate dipping sauce. Also popular are the smoked organic chicken wings drenched in a smokehouse maple rub and sriracha bourbon sauce. The honey garlic rubbed Norwegian salmon served with lobster ravioli and French fried onions is an excellent main dish for diners wishing to experience some of the cultural cuisines that draw visitors back to Decorah again and again.
Rubaiyat Restaurant’s menu may be viewed in its full glory here.
*Photo courtesy of RubaiyatRestaurant.com.