A new restaurant, gourmet food market and wine bar has opened in West Des Moines
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West Des Moines has a new restaurant and gourmet market to enjoy.
Urban Cellar Wine Bar, Grille, And Market opened April 8 at 640 S 50th St. Suite 2110 in West Des Moines in the space previously occupied by Legends American Grill.
Serving lunch and dinner, Urban Cellar is a restaurant and market with an Italian-influenced menu and an extensive wine program.
"This is where most people like to gather," said general manager Andrew Mery of the lounge area of Urban Cellar. "We want people to come in here and get away from it all and chill."
Mery, 33, was formerly a managing partner at Juniper Moon and also opened Lurra Cucina after a few years at Proof.
The main lounge is spacious and stately with the bar being the focus. Rows of high-top tables and comfortable booths are dimly lit with muted pendants giving an amber glow to the warm colors — not unlike the decor themes at Urban Grill in Urbandale and District 36 in Ankeny.
The 180-seat restaurant and market are owned by David and Jean Thompson, who bought Urban Grill 17 years ago. The Thompsons also opened District 36 in Ankeny's Prairie Trail, one of the first restaurants to open in the shopping district three years ago.
"Midwestern Americana; honest, simple food; great cocktails and wine; Italian-American approach to the menu," are just a few of the descriptions Mery used for the restaurant.
Lunch consists of a variety of appetizers, salads, entrees, sandwiches and pizzas. Most items are $15 or less with the exception of those with fresh fish and steak. The dinner menu combines the lunch menu with more extensive offerings of entrees and cuts of beef.
Executive chef Aaron White and sous chef Matthew Schmeisser work their creativity in the kitchen in line with the vision of the Thompsons.
Here are a few items recommended by Schmeisser:
- Mama Jean's Meatballs -Served as an appetizer ($13)
- Grilled Chicken Caprese Salad - Grilled chicken breast, mixed greens, fresh mozzarella, grape tomatoes, cucumbers, kalamata olives, red onions, croutons and white balsamic vinaigrette (gluten-free; $12)
- Creole Pasta - Andouille sausage, shrimp, crab, grilled chicken, tomato and farfalle pasta in a Cajun cream sauce ($16)
- Quinoa Power Bowl - Red quinoa, black beans, hominy, baby kale, grape tomatoes, pickled red onion, radish and sliced avocado in a tequila vinaigrette (gluten-free; $11)
- Beef short Ribs Mole - Boneless beef short ribs, braised in rich beef stock and Mexican mole and served over Yukon Gold whipped potatoes (gluten-free; $24)
- Prime Duroc Pork Chop - Bone-in chop, rubbed and brined for 48 hours and finished with sea salt agave butter and served with carrots and cauliflower (gluten-free; $28)
And if you're in the mood for pizza, Urban Cellars can be a contender for your cravings. Here are a few artisan pizzas available to share at Urban Cellar:
- Roasted Mushroom - Chef's mushroom blend, leek and garlic confit, caramelized onions, provolone and gorgonzola ($13)
- 3 Little Pigs - Sausage, Canadian bacon, crispy pork belly, shaved red onion, provolone, mozzarella, shaved lettuce and saffron aioli ($14)
- Margherita - Fresh mozzarella, crushed tomato and basil ($11)
"I think the margherita pizza is one of the best things that we do," Mery said. "It's just simple and straightforward and honest and the crust is just amazing. We spent a lot of time on our pizza dough and it's just spot on."
Desserts range from avocado cheesecake to chocolate cake filled with baked meringue and topped with chocolate ganache, and a chocolate budino (pudding) with espresso whipped cream and sea salt.
Guests at the restaurant can tour the in-house market selling wine, cheese, charcuterie, gourmet products, utensils, gift baskets, coffee from Smokey Row Coffee Co. and Pappardelle's Pasta from Colorado.
Housemade loaves of Italian bread, baguettes and pastries are for sale made by Abby Konecne, 35, from West Des Moines, a self-taught 17-year industry veteran. Look for her lemon bars, snickerdoodle muffins and ham and cheese turnovers.
For another dining option, guests can order meat and cheese boards ($9 per person), grab and go salads and sandwiches, and beer and wine and enjoy them at the tables inside the market or at the outdoor patio space.
Look for free samples of baked goods during the day and cheese and charcuterie during the evenings.
"We do all the classics really well," Mery said. "We took all the classics back to their originals the way they should be done."
Customers can watch drinks being constructed by lead bartender Derek Hoch, formerly of Wasabi, who will be happy to explain his creative process. Here are a few of the cocktails available from the bar:
- With the Sun in My Eyes - Ancho Reyes Chili Liqueur, fresh-squeezed citrus and chocolate bitters, topped with beer, salt, smoked paprika and hot sauce ($11)
- Cellar Manhattan - Urban Cellar's own Buffalo Trace Bourbon, Cohcci di Torino sweet vermouth and aromatic bitters ($10)
- Blood & Sand - Balvenie 12-year scotch, sweet vermouth, cherry brandy, fresh-squeezed orange juice ($12)
A wine room with 10-foot ceilings and glass doors is visible from the bar to showcase the emphasis on the establishment's wine program directed by sommelier Matthew McCartney. A wide range of wine is available by the glass and bottle — and you can buy wine from the market to take home.
Urban Cellar restaurant participates in the Buffalo Trace program by selecting its own custom signature barrels of whiskey to be enjoyed neat, on the rocks, or in a cocktail.
Another more private dining room with booths and tables is located away from the bar for more of an intimate and quiet feel.
Finally, the pièce de résistance is a private room seating about 24 that also doubles as a classroom space for wine tastings, dining events and cooking demonstrations. In the weeks ahead, look for Tom Henry, former owner of The Wine Experience at Jordan Creek Mall, to teach classes about wine.
Mery said the staff of 25 people is knowledgeable and more than happy to answer questions.
"If you don't know about wine and food and cocktails, it's a place to come learn and be comfortable," Mery said.
Urban Cellar - Wine Bar, Grille, And Market
Location: 640 S. 50th St., Ste. 2110, West Des Moines
Hours: Monday through Thursday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; Friday and Saturday, 11 a.m. to 11 p.m.; closed Sundays.
Social Hour: 3 to 6 p.m. and includes $3 drafts, $4 glasses of house wine; $5 classic cocktails and $6 appetizers