Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Loving the Des Moines Life: Proof

Welcome to the first installment of my adventures around my new hometown of Des Moines! I'll bring you restaurant reviews, theater reviews, and re-caps of other cultural events as I explore and make myself at home here.

Friday night, Mr. Nomadreader and I set out on our first Des Moines date night. We opted to have dinner at Proof, which overlooks Western Gateway Park.

Proof is an interesting restaurant. It's open for lunch Monday through Friday. They only open for dinner on Friday nights, and they serve a $35 three-course meal with a different menu each week. There were three options each for the appetizer, entree and dessert. Thankfully, Mr. Nomadreader and I have remarkably similar taste in food (and almost everything, really), so we were able to enjoy two of the options for each course.

The heavenly gouda and garlic bisque
For our appetizers, we opted for the gouda and spring garlic bisque, which ended up being my favorite dish of the evening. It was decadent, creamy and delightfully cheesy, and it magically avoided being heavy. We also chose the black quinoa and feta salad, which Mr. Nomadreader realized was almost identical to the one he had at Proof for lunch that day. It was lovely and light with layered flavors and a refreshing dressing. The first course was a huge hit, and we were glad to sop up the last of soup and salad dressing with the delicious bread, especially because there was no butter, oil or other option for the bread. It was good, but I prefer a little pizzaz on my bread.

Black quinoa and feta salad (plus a delicious Albarino!)
For our main course, we opted for the beef and the salmon. I had high hopes for both, but the beef disappointed. We asked for it rare and were told it was only available medium rare, which is fine, especially for a shoulder cut. When it arrived, however, it was well done; there was no trace of pink. It was a shame because despite being dreadfully overcooked, it still had delicious flavor. The beef was paired with cherry tomato polenta cakes, which were cooked perfectly and a lovely accompaniment. The salmon was cooked perfectly in a very hot pan. It was crispy all around and a perfect medium rare inside. It was served over a green mango salad, which was tasty, but the cucumber (my one food dislike) overpowered it for me. It was also spicier than I expected and would have loved a yogurt sauce to balance it with the salmon. Still, the dish was a hit with both of us. The main course wasn't quite the home run the first course was, but it was delicious. It is worth noting the portion sizes were smaller than an average entree, so there was no need to worry about saving room for dessert.

As someone who doesn't have much of a sweet tooth, I was ecstatic to see a cheese plate as one of the dessert options. I opted for it immediately, without even inquiring about what cheeses were on it. Mr. Nomadreader opted for a flourless chocolate tort with a beet mango gelato. I snared a bite of the gelato, and it was delicious (and not too sweet!). The cheeses were divine, however. The drunken goat always delights, and it was the lightest of the three cheeses. It was overshadowed by two truly remarkable cheeses, however: the roaring forties blue cheese and a rich, creamy, Iowa white cheese whose name I promptly forgot in my attempt to remember the roaring forties. We each finished dinner with a glass of Sauternes, which was a perfect accompaniment to both.

Our server was outstanding. She was everything I want in a server. She knew the answers to our questions when we had them, gave us space to enjoy our food and wine, and was prompt when we needed anything. Everyone on staff we had contact with was welcoming and helpful.

Mr. Nomadreader and I had a lovely Friday night. At $35 for three courses, it wasn't much of a deal (given the size of the entrees), but it was a fair price. We enjoyed the food and loved the service. The wine list was surprisingly broad, especially the bottle list, and there are many options in a variety of price ranges for red and white wines we enjoy. Overall, I enjoyed myself immensely, but I wasn't blown away by the food. I imagine we'll stop by Proof a few times a year, but I will keep an eye on the Friday night menu each week. Autumn is my favorite time of year for seasonal produce, and I imagine a few trips will be in order in September and October.

Food: 4 stars (out of 5)
Service: 5 stars (out of 5)


  1. What a terrific restaurant review. Since it sounds like a first class place, I think I would have complained if the beef was that overcooked.

    It does sound like a great place to try!

  2. Loved this review! I probably would have really liked the soup and salad as well, but would have been a bit less pleased with the main entree just as you were. You have inspired me to perhaps write a restaurant review one of these days! Thanks for the dish on Proof!

  3. What a great idea for a series! I know very little about Des Moines, so I'm really interested in hearing about the city. This restaurant review was a great way to start. Can't wait for more!

  4. It sounds like you are really enjoying your new hometown which is always an awesome thing to discover!

  5. I LOVE that I can continue to enjoy your blog... but I DON'T LOVE that I can't go enjoy these delightful spots myself... that is, unless we find ourselves in Des Moines sometime soon. If we do - you'll be the first to know.

    Much love to you & the Mr.

  6. It's only 8:30am my time and I'm already hungry for lunch (thanks to you!) That cheese plate sounds divine. I am not much of a sweet eater either.

  7. You're making me kind of want to move to Des Moines!! ;) My wife and I are big foodies -- this would so be a restaurant we'd like! I'm thrilled you and Mr Nomadreader are having a fabu time -- can't wait for the next Des Moines bragfest! :)

  8. YUM. You're killing me since I don't think I've eaten anything but bananas, Gatorade, and dry toast for two days. lol


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