Monday, January 16, 2006

Mosaix Restaurant

5014 E.P. True Parkway
West Des Moines
515-226-3450
Serves Dinner: Monday-Saturday, closed Sunday

Mosaix has always been a favorite spot to celebrate special times for “A” and “D”. Owner John Teeling knows how to run a first class establishment and it shows the moment you walk through the door. We first enjoyed a glass of wine at the very intimate and cozy bar as you enter the restaurant. The wine selections are excellent and the bar service always perfect.

The restaurant, decorated in soft peach and celery green and awash in candlelight, makes everybody looks good! The tables are covered in sparkling white linen with underskirts in florals and stripes to compliment the other décor. Pentimento lends interest to the walls and the look of Tuscany is perfectly controlled and executed. Mosaix is, for us, one of the most romantic and elegant settings for an evening out. Glasses and silver are spotless and, thankfully, a very nice combination salt and pepper mill adorns each table. The addition of this element to each table certainly eliminates the pretentious necessity some restaurants utilize of having a waiter crank pepper from the house howitzer-sized mill.

The wait staff at Mosaix are all seasoned professionals and provide flawless and completely unobtrusive service. Many have been with the restaurant since we started going several years ago which says something about both the management and the clientele.

Mosaix has an excellent selection of wines both by the bottle and by the glass. If there is something special that is not on the menu and, if it is stocked at JT’s wine store which is next door to Mosaix, all you have to do is ask and it will be provided.

The chef at Mosaix is John Haas who has been a chef at Jesse’s, Bistro Montage and Des Moines Golf and Country Club. His culinary skill is evident in many of the dishes, however in some preparations, the expected surprise or different twist is lacking. On a recent outing we started with selections from the tapas menu with “A” sampling the Gambas Alajillo, tiger shrimp in garlic sauce and “D” trying the Pork Empanadas. The shrimp were large in size but the sauce did not have the expected snap of garlic r the flavors that should be present. The empanadas were topped with sofrito sauce which is a rather gummy and unimaginative salsa that was heavy on the cilantro. Other tapas we have tried include grapes coated with blue cheese, escargot, the artisan cheese selection, steamed mussels and the scallops. Most are quite good, but a few lack the depth of flavors that a master saucier might bring to the selection of small dishes.

Dinners come with a mixed green salad topped with house-made roasted tomato, balsamic, Maytag blue cheese, oregano or garlic. The endive salad, a la carte, is also superb. “A” and “D” both had the Maytag blue cheese which arrived with well-tossed glistening greens and a generous scattering of cheese crumbles. Salads are served with a basket of South Union Bread which, on the evening we visited, was stone cold, almost as though it had been sitting in a refrigerator before it landed on our table. Room temperature or a quick pop in the microwave would have done more justice to George Fomaro’s signature baguette bread.

“D’s” main course was a Hanging Tender Steak served with foie gras butter, roasted root vegetables and house mashed potatoes. “A” had the steak Suzanne, two medallions of beef tenderloin in a wild mushroom bordelaise served with house potatoes and seasonal vegetable, which turned out to be the same assemblage of root vegetables that came with “D’s” entrée. Both beef dishes were prepared as ordered – a very nice medium rare. The Hanging Tender Steak was very tender and flavorful, a model of hanger steak preparation. “A’s” tenderloins were tender and flavorful, however there was not a wild mushroom in sight in the bordelaise. The root vegetables were interesting but not dazzling and the mashed potatoes were bland and forgettable.

Dessert brought “A” a tiramisu that was not prepared in the traditional manner with ladyfingers embedded in layers of the Italian custard. Instead it was a rather soupy concoction served in a wide stem with two pirouline cookies on top. The flavor was very nice and the presentation interesting, but the pirouline’s did not provide the same punch that one experiences with the more traditional tiramisu. “D” ordered a cherry almond sorbet and it was a delight. The crisp nutty almond flavor was a wonderful foil for the rich dark cherries.

The bottom line is that dinner, while good, was not the exceptional dining experience we have enjoyed in the past at this fine restaurant. It is almost as though the chef has some recipes about which he is enthused where the flavors soar and sing. However, there are others that are almost tepid in flavor and lacking in the excitement that one expects from the kitchen at Mosaix. We have never had a bad meal at Mosaix, but the last couple of outings left us a little less enthused than previous visits.

Mosaix changes the menu several times each year in an effort to take advantage of seasonal items as well as a motivation to keep reinventing the food offered to customers. Perhaps the menu is evolving with Messrs. Haas and Teeling and they are still finding the right mix for Mosaix and the chef. We still return and enjoy delightful evenings at one of Des Moines nicest places for a special, romantic dinner.

Rating 3 Yes
Quality Very good
Service: Top quality
Value: Good
Recommended: Yes

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