Des Moines Restaurant Week?
Trying to make our plans for Des Moines Restaurant Week Aug. 20-29 (Details Here: http://tinyurl.com/2egf4u9) Done quite a few of the restaurants already, but trying to pick the two most worthwhile for the week.
Any of you fellow foodies have your plans made yet? Suggestions?
This weekend I dined at Alba and Baru 66 for RW. Alba was just OK, but Baru 66 was *incredible*.
We arrived 15 minutes early and sat for an additional half hour in the bar, sipping cocktails (which were very tasty - esp the lemongrass mojito), and didn't mind waiting (at first).
The whole place has a cool, laid-back vibe. A little fancy but not formal, which is nice. Our server was incredibly friendly, warm, and knowledgeable about wine and the food, which made up for the fact we waited 20-30 minutes between courses. My dining partner and I didn't complain because we were so engaged in conversation it wasn't a huge deal, but the couple sitting next to us was obviously agitated and annoyed by their similar wait. I'm sure if we had complained we would have been well taken care of, but in the end it wasn't a huge deal. One other annoyance (which is common in any restaurant with hardwood floors and open ceilings) was the place was so loud we basically had to shout across the table to hear each other speak.
The food was pretty good. Sweet corn soup was well seasoned and had great texture. The pig cheeks were melt-in-your-mouth tender, but lacked salt. The vegetables on the side were a mishmash of hot and cold things, the beans were underdone, and I wanted more of the bread-and-butter cucumbers. The dessert, a strawberry shortcake made with cornbread and served with mint ice cream was forgettable. There were very few strawberries but the ice cream was tasty. The highlight of my dining partner's meal was definitely the 'poutine' demi-glace french fries he had with his steak. Absolutely delicious.
All in all, I'm glad I finally got to dine at Alba after hearing so much about it, but I'm also glad I didn't have to pay full price. And after eating at other restaurants during Restaurant Week, I doubt I'll return.
This was, hands down, the best meal I have ever had in Des Moines.
Everything from the service to the food to ambiance to value was A+ all across the board.
I dined with my sister last night to try the Restaurant Week menu, and the place was packed - but not noisy. Good insulation, ceiling, and acoustics still let it feel intimate, but not stuffy. The decorations were sparse but beautiful, fresh flowers on each table, freshly pressed linens - we were pleasantly impressed.
Our server was just the warmest, friendliest, and fun woman. We were well taken care of, had some great conversation, and she didn't make a single mistake all evening. Every course came out in a timely manner (but not rushed) and she was obviously very passionate and excited about the food she was serving - something I think is so rare and singular about servers today.
The food... oh my, the food. Our amuse bouche, a profiterole with goat cheese and parmesan filling, was amazing. My sister and I joked we wanted a dozen of them for our entree. The bread was fresh and sliced thick, served with black truffle butter and salt, and it was just to die for.
I had a light salad of spring greens, goat cheese, and walnuts. Nothing too spectacular, but my sister's foie gras mousse was incredible. Luscious and just the right amount on the plate so it wasn't overwhelming.
My entree of Parisienne sytle gnocchi with English peas was scrumptious. Light, yet hearty with awesome fresh flavor, it was the best gnocchi I've had since I ate at Thomas Keller's Bouchon. My sister's duo of pork was delightful. The pork belly was bursting with flavor, the potato and carrots on the plate were delicious. The loin was a bit tough, but still had great flavor.
For dessert, my sister indulged in confit pears poached in some spicy, sweet sauce with a rich and amazing blue cheese. I had the peach creme brulee which had the perfect sugar-glass crust on top and delicious caramelized peaches inside.
As we sipped a glass of champagne after dessert, my sister and I couldn't believe the value of our meal. The amount of food, the quality, the service, all for $25, was unreal. I made reservations on my way out for next weekend again so I can try other things on the menu, and I can't wait to go back! I've found my new favorite restaurant in Des Moines and love it.
I'm pumped! I made reservations at Alba for Friday, Baru 66 for Saturday, Lucca for the 27th, and Bistro Montage for the 28th. I'd like to also hit up Mojos on 86th as well. They're all restaurants I've wanted to try and Restaurant week offers some great deals. I'm really excited to try Baru 66 and Alba's menu looks delish.
420 E Locust St, Des Moines, IA 50309
Proof is always spot on and the Sbrocco menu looks fantastic. I agree with both of you about some of the others. I think Dish has a turkey wrap on their lunch menu, which I find kind of depressing.
Hope you two will come back and post after you try a couple out.
JHojati- you guys will LOVE Lucca...in addition to the food, its the best service in Des Moines!
208 Court Ave, Des Moines, IA 50309
We ate at Baru 66 last night. I ordered the salad, pork, and blue cheese off of the restaurant menu. My wife ordered the potato leek soup with salmon and escargot, the dorade filet with crab risotto, and the peach creme brulee. An amuse bouche was served, and was a profiterole stuffed with goat cheese.
Profiterole - this was a great way to start the meal (I always think "BONUS!"). I felt like the dough could have used a bit more salt, but overall I was pleased.
Salad - run of the mill, although it was served with very good chevre. Regretted not opting for the pate.
Soup - this was one of the best soups either of us have ever eaten. This was my first foray into escargot land, and this soup was simply stellar. If you go here, order the soup as your
Bread - along with our salad and soup we were brought two large pieces of in-house baked bread fresh from the oven. One bite and I told my wife that it honestly tasted like France. This is bread I would simply call up the owner and ask if I could buy, it's seriously that good. The bread was served with a compound butter with sea salt and truffle oil (an ingredient I usually could do without) - be careful not to fill up on this bread.
Pork - boy, this dish was a revelation. I'm used to eating pork belly that is on the thicker side, but this was probably a quarter inch thick slice served atop a piece of pork loin. It was served with potatoes, pearl onions and a pickled beet. The beet honestly stole the show for me, as I've never been a beet fan and this was simply an amazing beet. When eaten with the pork, I could have just stopped there and called it a day. The potato puree was perfectly seasoned and had good texture - often I see purees that are too runny. There was also a sauce served along with this dish that paired well with both the potato and the pork. I'm not entirely sure what it was, but I'm fairly certain there were some red berries.
Dorade - Admittedly, I only had a bite of my wife's dish, but I found the fish to be overpowering. If eaten together, the dorade just completely drowned out (no pun intended) the crab risotto. My wife did say that although she thought the dorade to be a little "fishy", the risotto was outstanding.
Blue Cheese - This is not a dessert for the timid. A hefty amount of very smoky blue cheese was served alongside micro greens, walnuts and what was described as confit pears. The pears and blue cheese were two heavyweights on the plate, but worked very well together. One bite of the pear and all I could think of was winter, drinking tea with cinnamon and clove. My wife called it a "man's dessert" but in the same breath said it was something that she knows she is going to crave.
Peach creme brulee - I am not a creme brulee fan. I feel it's the ubiquitous fancy pants dessert that almost always underwhelms. Not the case here. Served alongside what might have been in house made ice cream, the creme brulee was everything that I thought it wouldn't be. The bruleed top was insane - I kept stealing bites from my wife until we ultimately just traded desserts. I could eat an entire bag of that crunchy top. Underneath I didn't find a sticky, cloying, thick pudding-like substance, but instead a very light creme that, when mixed with the ice cream and the bruleed top (and a little mint) made for a perfect bite.
Service - this was one point that I really want to point out. Baru 66 was packed. To the gills. There were three servers, I believe, for the entire dining room, but not once did I see a server look flustered or hurry through a table. Our server even engaged me in conversation about the beer I ordered to start the meal (Pere Jacques - if you haven't tried it, do), as well as share in my reverie about the pickled beet. Nearing dessert my wife and I were in conversation and the waitress brought the glass of wine, quite ninja-like, without interrupting our conversation or being intrusive at all. That's a skill that I wish could be taught to the other servers in Des Moines. Sara (one of the owners, I think) greeted us and let me know that it was she who I had emailed for my reservation. She was very courteous and seemed to have the dining room working like a well-oiled machine. I honestly did not notice one single hiccup the entire two hours that we spent dining (a two-hour experience that flew by, unfortunately!).
If I had the income, I would eat here every night. It's warm, inviting atmosphere and the staff that mimic that atmosphere make Baru 66 a gem of a restaurant. The incredible food is merely a bonus.
Hey N - I'm actually planning on trying Baru 66's menu - it looks very good and I've been dying for the chance to get in there. It looks like they have some reservation openings, as I emailed the owner, Sara, and she was very polite and accommodating.
I also haven't taken my wife to Lucca yet (shame on me), so I plan on going there. Also doesn't hurt that I scored a cheap gift certificate to Lucca from restaurant.com!
Mandarin's menu looks fun and would be a great excuse to get sushi.
Other dishes that could warrant a visit:
Bistro Montage (sweet corn soup)
Mojo's (rock shrimp ceviche with ghost chili salsa)
Proof (lamb samosas)
Sbrocco (walleye or sirloin)
(is it me, or does it seem like there are an inordinate amount of "Os" in the list above?)
I'm a little disappointed with the options at Le Jardin, Django, and Centro - where's the creativity and embracing Restaurant Week?
1007 Locust Street, Des Moines, IA 50309
210 10th Street, Des Moines, IA 50309