A Delicious Lesson Learned at Proof

My first official Urban Merchant interview and I’ve been schooled.  My lunch at Proof was divine and the curry-toasted almonds on the salad left a lasting impression.  During our meal my husband even said, “I feel like we’re on vacation,” and the conversation led to a wildly entertaining display of Matt’s imagination (you have to know my husband to understand) of us in some far off land in the Mediterranean somewhere.  Don’t get me wrong – we love Des Moines, but we also love the thought of exploring Moracco and for that we’ll be regular “travelers” at Proof.  Oh, and it turns out that curry is not actually a spice.

Ras el hanout is a common mixture of spices used in cuisine across North Africa and therefore a familiar flavor at Proof, a restaurant owned by Carly Groben with the idea of bringing the food and flavors of her travels abroad to the local scene of Des Moines.  In general, the idea is a bit of a risk since Mid-westerners trend more towards the traditional side; however, under Carly’s design the hybrid of common American fare and exotic flavors come together as if they were made for each other.  The name ras el hanout means “top of the shop” in Arabic and refers to a blend of the best spices a merchant has to offer.  Some of the popular spices used in the blend are turmeric, cumin, and coriander which is also common in Indian dishes known to Westerners (and underdeveloped foodies such as myself) as “curry.”   Lesson learned.

By the way, I learned this lesson on my own and not because Carly corrected me when I commented on the curry-toasted almonds.  No, her non pretentious attitude has created a “safe” environment for average and experienced palates alike to try something new.  It is her motto that trying new food doesn’t have to be intimidating.  And it wasn’t.

Speaking of environment, the stark white walls and minimalistic ambiance give Carly what she says to be a “blank canvas,” with the food and the people as the art.  When I asked Carly “What’s relevant about Proof for the Urban515 consumer?” she said “that’s simple – the food!”  Although I have to agree that her food creations are very cool, I also have to point out that Carly is likably humble for someone chosen as 2010 semifinalist for the “Rising Star Chef of the Year” by the James Beard Foundation.  No matter where you fall on the foodie-scale Proof should be a regular stop on your Urban Card circuit.  The atmosphere, warmly spiced cuisine, friendly staff, and Carly’s charm and accessibility all lead to a “top-of-the-shop” experience.

We welcome Carly and Proof to the Urban Card community and look forward to hearing about what all of you think of this local gem.  When you stop in, say hi to my husband, Matt, who will most likely be there devouring his new and “filling” favorite – the beef brisket flatbread.  Bravo, Carly!

Proof will be a featured dining location for the Prima Dinners at this year’s Winefest on June 16th.

 

Take your Urban Card to Proof to enjoy 20% off your lunch. Learn more here.

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