Friday, December 02, 2005

Trostel's Dish

12851 University Avenue
Clive, IA
515-221-DISH

Wow! This is a restaurant that has all five of its stars already in place. The decor is Chicago chic . . . even New York chic. The service is excellent. The bar is alive and exciting.

But . . . the food gets the top billing at this unique palace of gourmandise. The array of tapas is bountiful and highly original. The dishes and presentation live up to the eponymous name of the restaurant. And then there are the flavors . . . Superb culinary creations of flavor-induced masterpieces of fresh ingredients conducted by a master chef and assembled into delights that dazzle on the plate and the palate.

The wine list is a Des Moines treasure. Even the little-known Las Rocas de San Alexandro, an obscure Spanish Garnacha from Calatayud to which Robert Parker gave a 93 rating, stating "may be one of the best wines in my experience." The Fess Parker sirah is out of this world . . . and the prices are fair and reasonable.

Perhaps the best part (at least an attractive part because everything here is "Best") is two people can share six or seven incredible tapas selections, several great wines, a very generous desert (try the chef's signature chocolate cake), all served with professional attentiveness without obsequiousness or banal chatter . . . and spend about $70-80 . . . absolute top value!

This is a restaurant to sample liberally and frequent often. There is energy and joy and superb food; clearly management is totally dedicated to the customer having a great experience. This is restaurateuring as it should be done . . . and to have this delight in Des Moines is a diner's delight and privilege.

"A" ordered six tapas over two visits: caesar salad, shrimp tempura, martini steak, pomme frits with truffle oil, cracker-bread pizza, and the Graziano sausage. "D" tried shrimp seviche, calamari, tilapia, prosciutto-wrapped Medjool dates, sauteed spinach and crab cakes. All were exquisite and each was a mini-festival of flavors. Food prepared this well is rarely found, even in the 'star' gastrodomes fronted by world-celebrity chefs. Both "A" and "D" believe the best restaurants in this hemisphere are found in Montreal, and Dish's food creations are every bit an equal to the best of Quebec's French-inspired two and three-star restaurants. Dish has a very skilled and talented chef and kitchen staff.

On both occassions, service was near-impeccable: fully-attentive and nearly transparent, leaving the dining experience at the direction of the customer not the server. If there is a small improvement to be made, it is having the kitchen food runners know exactly which diner gets which dish--and in what order--as there are so many different selections to come to the table. It looks to "A" and "D" like the best servers in Des Moines are competing to join Dish.

"A" and "D" try not to overly linger with one or two tapas selections and a glass of wine, thereby unfairly stretching an evening into hours at the expense of waiting diners and the restaurant's 'turns' of the tables. That is a tempting way to dine here, we are certain. But, this is a serious restaurant and deserves a bit of consideration from the diners in return for the tremendous consideration from the staff and management. We spend time in full enjoyment of the food, but then move to the bar for another glass or two of great wine and the attentiveness of a superb bar staff. And take a look at the astounding way the back-bar shelves are suspended on thin wires . . . fascinating!

Dish has live music several evenings of the week. The sound system dishes up some really great tunes--Dean Martin, Sinatra, and the ilk--yet conversation is never impaired by the sound levels. The energy here is uniquely crackling while elegantly understated . . . matching the decor and the ambience and what has to be one of the sharpest and most astute sensitivities to restaurant design and operation in Des Moines.

Rating: 4 Absolutely! (Ratings: 1 No; 2 Maybe; 3 Yes; 4 Absolutely!)
Value: Top Value
Quality: Superb
Service: Superb
Recommended: Yes

Alternatives: None with creative food this good. If, however, you can't get a table, Mosaix is a great alternative and only a short drive from Dish.

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