It took me an unreasonably long time to check out City Bakery after it opened late last year. I recently remedied that problem and was pleasantly surprised that City Bakery is all that Bagni Di Lucca had been and more. The food is similar (pizza is still offered), but there are more offerings. The space is largely untouched, but it is more efficient (I think that there is still only one bathroom, though). There is also much more activity behind the counter and in the kitchen. If the frenetic activity, pastries, and food reminds me of La Mie, it might be because City Bakery is mostly owned by the same branch of the Logsdon family that owns La Mie. Lots of food, lots of customers, and lots of staff — all moving quickly. They also have Nico Percheron working with them on the management team and his last name is surely the source of the horse motif used in the restaurant’s logo: A Percheron horse. Orders are taken at the counter and the food is delivered to your table.
I like the small changes that they made with the layout. Instead of putting the counter along the back wall it has been moved to the side, opening the place up considerably. Also, there is a big table that can handle one large group or several groups. The day I was there at least two groups were comfortably enjoying lunch. The menu is much larger. Not only are there pizzas, which I’ve not yet tried, but there are pastries, salads, and sandwiches. For coffee lovers, they offer something I’ve not seen before in a Des Moines restaurant: your own french press. That is a fabulous option.
I chose the chicken pesto sandwich as my entree. The bread had that “right out of oven” smell and the chicken was cooked to perfection. It was warm, moist, and tender. I also shared a bite of the veggie sandwich it was excellent. Just to make sure that we were totally stuffed we also ordered a side of chips.
We also attempted to spoil ourselves with a peach danish as an appetizer and a coconut macaroon for desert. Both were really tasty. The coconut macaroon had that chewy goodness that made me want to savor every bite.
What I really liked about City Bakery is that it had an honest feel that you sometimes miss with some restaurants. The staff looked like they were highly motivated to create a great experience and the food was top-notch without trying to be more than what the place is: a basic and approachable lunch spot.
407 East 5th Street
Des Moines, Iowa