Sunday, October 7, 2012

Fans of the Cheese Frenchee rejoice! Angelo's brings the classic sandwich back to Des Moines.

UPDATE: Angelo's has since closed this location. In November 2013, Angelo's moved from 13th & Grand in West Des Moines to nearby 1238 8th St. and rebranded itself as Angelo's on 8th which has since closed.

King’s Food Host was a regional fast-food chain that opened their first location in Lincoln, Nebraska back in 1955, and experienced phenomenal growth thru the 1960s with over a hundred locations across 17 states and at least one Canadian province. Des Moines was home to a few, most notably on the corner of 18th & Grand, across the street from Tech High. However, King's fortunes declined greatly in the 1970s with the last remaining outlets being sold off in 1978.

Aside from the telephones at each table that customers used to place their orders, King's was famous for a quirky corn flake-encrusted sandwich called the Cheese Frenchee. Back in the 80s when I worked for a political non-profit with a satellite office in Council Bluffs, I would go across the street to enjoy a version of the Cheese Frenchee at a little Greek gyro joint in the old Midlands Mall, long since re-purposed as a business center.

Recipes for the deep-fried treat abound on the web, touting such ingredients as Russian dressing and powdered cheese. I don't know about such ingredients, but who cares since Angelo's Pizza – the same folks who introduced Cincinnati chili to Des Moines [see blog post] – now offer a Cheese Frenchie on their ever-expanding menu.

Cut into a quad of triangles with a golden exterior sporting little extrusions of cheese along the edges, the crispy corn flake coating presents a pleasing sweetness. More melted cheese awaits inside, along with an unexpected tang I assume to be a thin veneer of salad dressing. On the whole a crispy, cheesy, decadent treat!

Since opening their second location near the Capitol Complex along with the debut of Cincinnati chili on their menu, Angelo's has experienced considerable success. State workers familiar with the E. 14th Angelo's eats while on lunch break now frequent the West Des Moines location for evening fare.

Now Angelo's has ventured into an arrangement with Pints Pub n Patio at Court & Fourth, pitching their selection of pizzas, chili, sandwiches, and appetizers to downtown worker bees on their lunch break and late-night partiers seeking an alcohol sponge. With the new location, more appetizers have been added to the menu including Jalapeño Mozzarella Sticks with a raspberry-jalapeño dipping sauce, as pictured below. UPDATE: This kitchen location has since closed.

A couple of weekends ago, one of my favorite Saturday morning pair of baristas at Amici Espresso was leaving and I wanted to treat the duo with breakfast. Taking advantage of Angelo's new digs nearby I brought over a Breakfast Pizza, only available as a 16-inch ordered a day in advance.

The Breakfast Pizza was quite unique with a base of chunky salsa ladled over Angelo's thin crust. The zest of salsa paired with the crispy, tender crust makes the pizza a standout against the Farmers' Market breakfast pizzas offered by nearby Fong's and Something Italian [see blog posts from July 1, 2011, and August 4, 2012]. Black olives, onion, green pepper, scrambled eggs, thin-sliced ham, and cheddar finish the build. Cut into a dozen slices, our happy trio plus one lucky coffee shop patron oohed and aahed over every bite.

Having been a fan of Angelo's long before their expansion eastward, I am hopeful for success with their new kitchen on Court. Given the youthful, boozy clientele that Pints attracts at night, I'll likely stick to carryout. In fairness, I barely tolerate the cramped bar scene at Fong's long enough to grab a few slices and make a hasty retreat to Walnut St. to enjoy my late-night repast.


Road Tips said...

While never a big fan of cheese frenchees, I did love King's burgers. They had a sort of peppery taste to them. The closest I've found to the King's burgers are two places out in Nebraska - Runza and Don and Millie's (primarily found in Omaha). Both of which, I believe, came out of some lineage from King's Food Host.

slakingfool said...

Runza's signature 'meat Twinkies' are a favorite of mine. I had never considering trying their burger, but your description sounds inviting. Next time I'll give it a go with some Frings.

Road Tips said...

Runza's burgers are one of my guilty pleasures in life. Was never keen on the Runza's (or as you call them the "meat Twinkie"), but the burger is one of the best there is for a made-to-order fast-food place.