When Eatery A exploded on the Des Moines restaurant scene last year I was skeptical that a casual spin-off from a top formal dining restaurant like Alba could work. It does more than work. Although Alba is consistently one of the finest local chef-owned restaurants in the Des Moines metro, Eatery A is amazingly well thought out. While the focus continues the Alba tradition of great food, the vibe is definitely less formal and the crowd more relaxed. People are having fun. The food picks up on the Mediterranean fusion influence that I believe first hit the Des Moines market when Carly Groben (now Carly Ross) started Proof. The menu has several lamb, olive, and hummus though there are enough other options to satisfy almost any palate.
The ambiance is where Eatery A really shines. Although it is admittedly not going for the white table cloth “anniversary, wife’s birthday, business power dinner” dining slot, it succeeds so well in the food and ambiance departments that it deserves consideration for all of the above events in addition to handling the larger market segment that casual dining offers.
I love the mix of dining areas. There is the patio which overlooks Ingersoll, the bar and high tables along the outside wall, a large dining area, and several smaller, more intimate, areas. The decor is simply amazing. Wood is everywhere with large structural components that eliminate any clues that this was once a video store. The wait staff works hard and meals come as soon as I’d expect.
One problem I consistently have with Eatery A is that it induces plate lust every time I go. No matter what I order, the food on everyone else’ plate looks better than mine. This is a good complaint to lodge against any restaurant. The menu is very diverse, with oven sides, soups and salads, and “delicacies” such as olives, meatballs and sambusak.
A wood-fired pizza oven is between the bar and the kitchen. I’ve not tried the pizza yet, but friends say it is very good.
In addition to pizza, there is a full menu of pasta dishes, “farm”dishes — which is where you will find the beef, steak, lamb, chicken, and lamb sliders, “ocean” dishes — which is made up of octopus, scallop, shrimp, and crab dishes, and “land” — which are your veggie alternatives. The meals I’ve had have all been excellently prepared and imaginatively designed.
The drinks available at Eatery A are adequate without setting any new standards for variety. Unless there are bottles hidden from view, the bar does not have a tremendous variety of ingredients. The beer menu has a number of fantastic selections, with three Iowa beers on tap and some very nice craft beers by the bottle (in addition to the required Bud Light and PBR).
I can’t forget to mention the desserts. They are well above average and worth eating. Be sure to get a reservation if you are trying to get in on a weekend. Eatery A continues to be quite busy.
2932 Ingersoll Ave
Des Moines, IA 50312