By Dawn Aerts
Iron County Today
CEDAR CITY–This is not your typical restaurant, but if you happen to wander down Main Street, past a somewhat dated hotel and an empty store front, you might catch ‘a whiff’ of schnitzel or steamed sauerkraut in the air.
While Cedar City is not thought of as a hub for international cuisine, let alone German recipes, the idea of offering up a mix of continental dishes has inspired Todd McDonald, Executive Chef, and fellow staff to open the doors of ‘Das Nest.’ It was McDonald and a handful of others who envisioned the concept 20 years ago during their travel and a stay in Mexico City.
“I think we all had similar passions – travel, food, and creating were the main ideas that brought us together,” said McDonald of their early conversations. “We found ourselves remembering and craving the places and foods from other expeditions and wanted to create a space where travel and other cultures are the focus.”
So far, diners have managed to find the savory little spot against the odds with help from Facebook and social media.
The restaurant is nothing like the massive rollicking, dining halls you find in a city like Munich or Hamburg. But they have carved out a low-key space that offers a changing menu with international flare. I haven’t visited a restaurant in Germany for years, but I do recall that you’ll never see ice cubes in a glass — unless you can say, “Un vasa mit ice bitte?”
Das Nest is more hometown. “We actually choose to live here after having lived in a number of other cities around the country,” said McDonald. “It has everything we enjoy from the people to the climate and it’s a great ‘jumping off’ point for other travel destinations.
Here you can find an assortment of craft-worthy import brews with a narrow selection of fine wines. But you should be prepared for a rotating menu, a shift in ambiance and a chalkboard of price points. On one weekend they may offer old-world comfort food: meats, potato salad, schnitzels or red cabbage dishes and then, something out of South America cookbooks the next.
Since Das Nest opened they have been steadily accepting more ‘reservations’ for call ahead seating Friday and Saturday evenings, (5 to 10 p.m.) with takeout orders available (some weekends) depending on the featured dish. According to McDonald, their chefs find inspiration in creating the flavor-filled recipes with old-world hospitality.
“This was about taking on a new challenge and having a new experience,” said McDonald of their vision, “We have a space where we can share our personal culinary experience from around the world…and as travelers ourselves, we are always fascinated to hear about the expeditions of our guests.”
A weekend menu may draw culinary inspiration from South America. Or maybe you take a quick hip-hop to Switzerland for a traditional Alpine-inspired cheese fondue and hand-made artisan bread. Depending on the weekend, you may want to take a side trip to Japan where the authentic flavors of ramen merge with handmade noodles, and dashi-infused broth laced with pork belly or shrimp. Diners refer to a small chalk-board menu – for weekend specialties.
“Although we all have different careers aside from das Nest, I think the business model affords an opportunity to learn something about our own strengths and weaknesses,” said McDonald of the guest chefs who occasionally bring their craft to their kitchen. “And we can also discover new talents and skill-sets.” It is located at 301 S. Main St. in Cedar City.
Caption: Das Nest staff (left to right) Norma Rangel, pastry chef; Jorn Grass, chef; Ricardo Rangel, chef; and Jannette Grass, (event coordinator and operations).