Proof, the hit downtown restaurant begun by Chef Carly Groben and sold to Sean Wilson and Zach Mannheimer has now expanded its hours and offerings. A simple bar has been added to the north wall and dinners are now served from Wednesday to Saturday. Hal Jasa, the wandering chef of Des Moines has been lassoed to help out in the kitchen. With the addition of dinners, it is possible for Wilson and Jasa to introduce some of their own creations without upsetting aficionados of Groben’s award-winning Mediterranean lunch menu. Chef Jasa is always a tough act to track around Des Moines given his propensity to enjoy the dark shadows of Central Iowa’s culinary underworld, so I look forward to being able to just show up and know I’ll be eating something that he had a hand in preparing.
I have been to Proof a few times for business lunches since it changed hands and the quality has been maintained, which is good since it was fantastic to start with. Until recently I’d not had the chance to visit for dinner. I was quite satisfied by what I found. First, the service was impeccable. The waiter was effusive about the food and was clearly quite taken with the synergy of Wilson and Jasa in the kitchen. In fact, his devotion was nearly religious in fervor.
With the addition of a bar, Proof now offers some specialty cocktails to add a sophisticated layer to the dining experience. After ordering a couple of drinks, a Bramble (wild berry infused gin, lemon juice and honey syrup) and a French 75, (gin lemon juice, simple syrup, sparkling wine and brandied cherries) we got down to business with some appetizers. We ordered some cheese ($5), which came drizzled in honey and an olive and almond plate ($6). Both dishes hinted at what was yet to come.
Instead of ordering the baby beet salad with a beet/basalmic marshmallow ($9) as an appetizer, we had it delivered with the rest of the meal to serve as our “vegetable” course. You have to try the beet/basalmic marshmallow. It is simply amazing. I know what you are thinking, “beet marshmallow?” I asked myself the same thing but I knew that we were in capable hands.
For the main course I chose the pork bolognese ($15) simply because I’ve been on a pork kick lately (something caused no doubt by more than a few of the best restaurants in Des Moines). It exceeded my expectations, hitting that perfect balance between luscious but slightly crispy fat and tender meat. Because my fellow diner had ordered the prix fixe meal, (the beets and the ricotta salata were actually included in the prix fixe cost), she got the scallops. They were excellently prepared.
I’d say that this was one of our most delightful meals of the year. The atmosphere was wonderful, the waiter knowledgeable and friendly, and the food was transportive. This is definitely one of those places I’ll keep coming back to time and time again. I do think that Proof ranks right up at the top of Des Moines’ best dining destinations for dinner along with my other two favorites, Cafe Di Scala and Luna Bistro. Each brings something different to the table and each one succeeds in their own way.
Open for lunch Monday thru Friday 11-2
and for dinner on Wednesday thru Saturday, 5-close