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March 25, 2014
The wall of the private dining room is made from reclaimed wood from the construction process.

Sneak Peek: Eatery A

By Wini Moranville

 

Today, if you drive by 2932 Ingersoll Ave., you might be able recognize the building as the former Blockbuster video rental store. The boxy outline remains, in spite of the promise of an outdoor dining patio taking shape.

But step inside, and any memory of the blunt, industrially lit store will be erased. I literally gasped at the dash and daring of the new venue--the most ambitious overhaul the city has seen a restaurant pull off since Centro opened more than 10 years ago.

 

Eatery A's contemporary yet warm design creates an inviting ambience.

Jason Simon, chef-owner of East Village's Alba restaurant, is set to open the 170-seat Eatery A around mid-April. Simon designed the space himself. While contemporary, the venue avoids the stark, hard-edged feel often found in today's new restaurants. Reclaimed wood shines throughout, colored up with thrilling reds and bold blues. Though a place this size could risk feeling cavern-esque, enticing focal points energize the room--banquette seating, swishy half-moon booths, an open kitchen, a wood-fired pizza oven.  

 

The latter speaks to the focus of the menu, which Simon describes as "Mediterranean with a focus on the wood oven." Specialty pizzas ("a cross between Neapolitan and New York-style," Simon says) will share the menu with signature pasta dishes and grilled meats and seafood.

And check out the prices: "With nice and easy price points under $15 on everything, we're hoping to be more friendly for everyone," Simon says.

Given the many unknowns in the construction world, Simon wisely won't commit to a firm opening date. But keep your eye on this upcoming hot spot.

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Short story writer Alan Heathcock

By the Books

By Kellye Crocker 

 

Early April brings a shower of literary events: 

  • April 5, 6-8 p.m.: Urbandale Public Library's "Dinner With Authors" serves up a catered meal and performances by experienced local actors in the roles of Jane Austen, Ernest Hemingway, Agatha Christie and Mark Twain. Tickets are $50 (with $30 tax-deductible) and available until April 2 at the library, 3520 86th St. 
     
  • April 6, 2:30 p.m.: At the Des Moines Public Library's Central Library, Dr. Terry Wahls, a clinical professor of medicine at the University of Iowa, discusses "The Wahls Protocol: How I Beat Progressive MS
    Poet Ross Gay
    Using Paleo Principles and Functional Medicine." Her free talk kicks off the 14th year of the library's popular AViD (Authors Visiting in Des Moines) series. See the recently announced lineup here.
     
  • April 7-9: Des Moines Area Community College's 12th annual Celebration of Literary Arts Festival brings acclaimed national and Iowa writers (including novelist and Drake University visiting writer Kali VanBaale of Bondurant) to the six DMACC campuses. With due respect to Miss Austen & Co., one of goals of the event, which started in conjunction with the National Poetry Festival, is to show students that not all authors are dead. Readings are free and open to the public (schedule here). 
  • April 7, 7 p.m.: Beaverdale Books, in collaboration with the DMACC festival, hosts a reading by the four headliners-short story writers Laura van den Berg and Alan Heathcock and poets Ross Gay and Evie Shockley. Arrive early (6:30 p.m.) to support the DMACC students who will read their writing, too.
J. Barry Griswell (left), the Community Foundation's former CEO, and Dr. Richard Deming (right), foundation board member, honor Lt. Joe Gonzalez, one of the 2013 Better Together award winners, at last year's Celebration Luncheon.

Kudos for Good

 

It's no secret that fixing urban problems requires cash. What's often overlooked, though, is the importance of "social capital"--those people and organizations that unite us to make a difference. These connectors reach out to diverse groups, collaborate effectively and mobilize personal and professional networks to address community needs and opportunities. The Community Foundation of Greater Des Moines' Better Together Award salutes their efforts.

For the fourth year, the Community Foundation will honor an individual and an organization for raising social capital to improve Iowa's capital. Past winners are Central Iowa Shelter & Services and Mark Ackelson and Lt. Joe Gonzalez (2013); Des Moines Community Playhouse and G. David Hurd (2012); and The Wallace Centers of Iowa and Bruce Bernard (2011).

 

The foundation will recognize this year's winners at its annual Celebration Luncheon & Report to the Community May 12. The individual winner receives $1,000 to donate to a local nonprofit, and the winning group collects $2,500 to continue its community-betterment work. You can nominate people, nonprofits, civic groups and collaborative partnerships for the award through April 11 here. -K.C.
Zeljka Krvavica
A Taste of Bosnia
 
If you've fallen into the Netflix-and-takeout rut, maybe it's time for some Saturday-night cevapi and sevdah. You'll find these and more at CultureAll's celebration of Bosnia and Herzegovina, March 29, 6:30-8:30 p.m., at the Windsor Heights Community & Events Center, 6900 School St. Zeljka Krvavica and Merima Ćatić will host a lively, family-friendly evening of traditional foods and entertainment as part of CultureAll's "Living Cultures" series. Also, Kathy Heinzel, a retired Des Moines teacher, will be honored for her work with the Bosnian community.

The dinner, provided by Papillon, will include regional specialties such as cevapi (minced sausages), bosanski-lonac (a slow-cooked stew), sarma (stuffed cabbage rolls), cufte (meatballs), ajvar (a red pepper-and-garlic relish) and a selection of sweets. Aldijana and Nusret Radončić will provide music, and dancers will perform to sevdah, a musical genre that is sometimes called "the Balkan blues."

The nonprofit CultureAll strives to strengthen global understanding and appreciation through personal interaction (without the jet leg or expense). Advance tickets ($15) are required and are on sale through March 27 here. -K.C.
Roll & Hill's "Agnes" chandelier from Projects Contemporary Furniture.
One More Thing
 
When it comes to feathering your nest, a single, albeit perfect addition--a beautifully sculptural light fixture, say--can change everything. Interior designers Lynn Neswold, Hal Davis, Michelle Pulver and Myra Lynn Hansen offer inspiration for taking a room from "meh" to marvelous in dsm's March issue. See "The Wow Factor" here.
Kellye Crocker

Kellye Crocker lives in Clive and writes fiction for teens and nonfiction for adults. A former Des Moines Register senior reporter and current dsm contributing writer, she's also written for Parents, Better Homes and Gardens and Glamour, among other national publications. Connect with her on Twitter: @kelcrocker.
Wini Moranville

Wini Moranville, author of "The Bonne Femme Cookbook: Simple, Splendid Food That French Women Cook Every Day," is a food, wine and travel writer who covers the dining scene for dsm magazine. Follow her at All Things Food DSM - Wini Moranville and catch her food segment on Fridays at 6:40 a.m. on KCWI-23's "Great Day" morning show.

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