All the quality with none of the arrogance5/20/2015
The telltale sign of an overpriced, pretentious meal is one served on a large white plate, the food taking up only the smallest amount of space in the center. In our humble state of Iowa, seeing the arrival of such a dish will more often than not leave customers saying, “I thought I was paying for the full portion.”
Sometimes stereotypes must be put aside. Such is the case with Alba, an East Village treasure since 2008. Alba is known for its carefully cultivated menu and gourmet ingredients, at least some of which the average Joe likely hasn’t seen before.
After ordering from a well-dressed and well-informed server, the plates arrive — large and white, food in the center. At first look, one might complain internally about the lack of quantity. It is a big plate, after all. Rest assured, the people behind Alba want their customers to leave happily stuffed. Halfway through the entrée, one realizes this so-called “tiny portion” really isn’t so tiny. Neither is the flavor, which comes together so perfectly in every dish that you’ll wish you had more, even though your stomach is telling you to stop already.
Now your perceptions have changed.
This point is driven even further by the fact that the man cleaning tables and filling water glasses across the room is none other than owner Jason Simon. Wearing work clothes and a smile, Simon carefully picks up each dish, wipes down every table and asks every customer how he or she liked the meal.
The mark of a truly great business is one in which the owner clearly cares about the job, the product and the people. A great owner is one who isn’t afraid to do the dirty work, even though it’s obvious he can afford not to.
These are just a few reasons to give Alba a try if you haven’t already. If you need more, there are plenty to choose from.
For the burger lovers, visit the bar for $5 burgers all night on Mondays. Alba has an expanded burger menu that promises to put every other burger to shame. Monday night’s special also includes $5 specialty cocktails, a competitive price for restaurants of Alba’s quality.
And for those who were avid celebrators of Wine Wednesday, the adult version can be found at Alba, with half-priced bottles valued at $100 or less. This might seem a little steep, but trust that the Alba team knows how to pair the perfect wine with each menu item and remember it’s OK to treat yourself once in a while.
The rest of the week (Tuesday through Friday) offers happy hour from 5 to 6:30 p.m., including half-priced appetizers, $2 off beer, glasses of wine and specialty cocktails. The only downside here is that these specials are only good at the bar, which seats considerably fewer than the dining area. All the more reason to leave work a few minutes early, though, right? Just don’t tell your boss you read that in Cityview. CV
524 E. Sixth St., Des Moines
Mon. 5 p.m. – midnight
Tues.-Fri. 11 a.m. – 2 p.m., 5 p.m. – midnight
Sat. 5 p.m. – midnight
Closed on Sunday
Mon.-Fri. 5-6:30 p.m.