An Iowa restaurant has earned accolades from The New York Times on its list of 50 Restaurants That Are Hotting Up Food Editors Nationwide.

Webster’s, an upscale restaurant with seasonal American dishes and a menu from owner Sam Gelman, created the menu that represents Iowa.

Gilman and his wife, Ren, opened the Iowa City restaurant in 2021 amid the pandemic. Sam, who grew up in Iowa City and left to train at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, remembers eating at Pearson’s Drug Store that was once located in the space The Webster now occupies across from Mercy Hospital. Gilman remembers eating at the drug store with his father and grandfather, an orthopedic surgeon who worked at the hospital and became the restaurant’s namesake.

Ren, the general manager and co-owner of the location, worked at Eleven Madison Park and Craft in New York City before the couple decided to open a restaurant in Iowa.

What did the New York Times say about The Webster?

“We cannot help but feel that the cities and towns of the United States are better for eating today than they have ever been,” the New York Times wrote.

While the Times doesn’t point to any specific dishes at The Webster, writer Brett Anderson points to Sam Gelman’s background as a “first lieutenant in chef David Chang’s restaurant group” as an attraction to the restaurant.

“With its window-lined dining room and vibrant, Asian-accented dishes, often locally sourced, Webster’s Restaurant treats Mr. Gilman’s hometown as an asset, serving as a compelling lure to visit this cosmopolitan corner of the Midwest,” Anderson wrote.

What’s on the menu at The Webster?

Webster’s website praises seasonal ingredients but notes that “we’re not limited by the strict confines of what’s found in Iowa soil.” Some items, such as roasted trout, may remain on the menu but the vegetables change with the “bounty of the seasons.”

Gilman describes the restaurant as having a “relaxed, family-friendly, upscale atmosphere.”

One section of the menu includes pastas, such as rigatoni with kale pesto and ricotta salad, and casareche with smoked wagyu beef and summer squash. This time of year, grilled Wisconsin trout comes with corn, bacon, and chanterelles. Other entrees include grilled monkfish with speck and green beans, Grimm Farm chicken leg with roasted tomatoes, and Beelers pork chop with cherries and chicory.

Desserts can change daily and have recently included lemon yuzu curd, panna cotta and chocolate and passion fruit tart.

more: Take a look inside Either/Or, the new restaurant from the owners of Lua that opens on Friday

Where to find webster

location: 202 N Street Lynn, Iowa City

communication: or 319-800-0720

hours: Open Tuesday to Thursday from 5:30 to 9 pm and Friday and Saturday from 5:30 to 10 pm

Susan Stapleton is entertainment editor and dining reporter for The Des Moines Register. You can contact her on Facebook Twitteror Instagram, or email her at

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