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Get the vibe at Alba Restaurant in Des Moines' East Village

One of the hidden gems of the East Village area, Alba Restaurant adds a unique and chic personality to the whole neighborhood. The other night I was invited out with my parents and their friends. Of course I was initially going to politely decline, but then I thought 'what the heck' especially since they were headed to a place they've been raving about for months.

Alba Restaurant on east 6th just off Grand Avenue, has apparently been around for quite some time now- inhabiting a spot that used to be a car dealership, then a florist. Owner and head chef Jason Simon moved here from the tiny town of Parkersburg, and he put a lot of work into that old building.

Jason and the staff at Alba really know what they're doing. Barwise, the wine selection is vast and fabulous with both reds and whites by the glass or bottle. They have a very unique dispensing machine that keeps the wine fresh and fragrant. Their wide array of high end liquor is nothing to sneeze at, especially when expertly mixed by Alba's bartenders. Try their pomegranate martini... it's fantastic. Templeton Rye lovers can also find a great cocktail here. 

Since I'm spoiled, I skipped the dining area and sat at the chef's table. Having a front row seat and watching the cooks do their thing is great. Almost everything they cook is in a skillet, and on a busy night, that small kitchen area is bustling with activity. I loved the occasional burst of heat from a flame warming the side of my face.

The menu is very fresh, and constantly changing to take advantage of the season's best available ingredients.  You'll find lots of old favorites served with a contemporary gourmet flare- and I'm not talking about the TGI Friday's kind of flare- although Alba does have cool old wooden doors suspended from the ceiling.

Don't get me wrong, even though I went with my parents, there were more people around their 20's 30's and 40's. If you're looking for a semi-fancy place where you can let your hair down and enjoy a great meal and drink, this is definitely the place. A great choice for a romantic Valentine's Day date. Just be sure to call ahead if you wanna sit at the coveted chef's table!

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