Co-owners and husband-and-wife team Camp Boswell and Teah Benkoczy began their restaurant journey together in Asheville, North Carolina, before landing in Fairfield, Iowa.
“Broth Lab started as a brainchild in 2013 when we were pregnant with our first child and shared a homemade New Year’s Eve ramen dinner with our family,” Benkoczy said. “From that evening, we discussed and dreamed, developed many recipes and, without even realizing it, we built the whole concept.
In 2018, the couple began experimenting with pop-up events in Asheville while looking for a physical space.
“We even came to Fairfield and looked here — ironically the place we own now — but ended up staying in Asheville at that point,” Benkoczy said.
They opened Broth Lab in the summer of 2019 and from the start, the couple agree it was a “resounding success”. However, COVID quickly intervened, making the success short-lived.
“At that point, we decided moving to Fairfield was in the best interests of our family,” said Benkoczy, who had lived in the southeast Iowa town as a child.
Boswell is the Executive Chef of Broth Lab and brings over 20 years in the restaurant industry to create high quality Asian cuisine.
Benkoczy said, “Camp has been trained by top chefs across the United States, including James Beard award-winning Chef Chris Hastings in Birmingham, Ala.” She added, “And while we loved ramen, Camp also saw an opportunity to create something that offered the same foundation of comfort, flavor and experience as traditional ramen, but with room to play and rise. To create something we call Ramen-ish.
Their most popular noodle dish is the Tonkotsu Ramen, followed closely by the Lobster Red Curry Noodle Bowl. The restaurant also offers a selection of small bites, including the best-selling crispy pickled cauliflower with sambal aioli dip and the popular Bao Buns.
In addition to serving ramen, small bites, and main dishes, Broth Lab also serves weekly specials such as Salmon Poke with Sesame/Soy/Citrus Dressing, Crispy Pickled Red Onions, Cucumber, and Baked Peanuts. lime or a shrimp “Bahn Boy,” which Benkoczy calls “our version of a cross between a bahn mi and a po’ boy with southern buttermilk fried shrimp.”
Open for dinner only, Broth Lab is modern, bright and airy.
“Our decor is playful while still feeling elevated and refined,” Benkoczy said. “You can expect the atmosphere to be lively, the service exceptional and the design worthy of Instagram.”
And if you’re wondering about etiquette, Broth Lab’s website says it very clearly: “Slurping welcome here!”
Benkoczy adds that it’s worth traveling to Fairfield to try Broth Lab “because there’s nothing else like it.” It’s a one-of-a-kind experience from the design element to the ambience, drinks, and food…it’s truly unlike anything else in Iowa.”
How to get to Broth Lab and when it’s open
Address: 102 N. 2nd St., Fairfield
Call: (641) 233-6112
Distance from downtown Des Moines: 113 miles
Hours: 5 p.m.-9 p.m. from Tuesday to Saturday
Drinks: Broth Lab serves cocktails, beer, sake and wine. “Our cocktail program is quickly becoming as popular as our food program,” Benkoczy said. “We hired an award-winning bartender/bar consultant to help us create our bar program.” Their most popular drinks are Watch Out Dr. Jones, a fruity, refreshing and perfectly balanced mezcal-based cocktail, as well as the Naked Sloth, a Japanese gin-based cocktail made with orange, lemon and curacao.
Lunch box: As if owning just one restaurant wasn’t enough, the couple also own Lunchbox, which is, as the name suggests, only open for lunch and serves New American and Southern comfort food with innovative twists. 403 N 4th St, Fairfield
From past to future“Our story together started in a restaurant,” Benkoczy said. “We met in 2012 at a restaurant in Asheville, where Camp was the executive chef and I was a server. We’re a great team and hope to share Broth Lab across the Midwest and who knows – maybe across the US”
while you are there: Benkoczy suggested, “Always worth stopping at Fishback and Stephenson and tasting their ciders and enjoying the beautiful view. We also like to sit on the terrace at Veraison Wine bar or at SOMM Wines. The Fairfield Loop Trail is great for an outdoor adventure, and there are a handful of shops in the plaza worth checking out, including the At Home store and Hazel and Grey.”