My Birthday: Scratch Cupcakes and Dinner for Two in Des Moines

Alba's Overall Score4.5
  • Food and Drink
  • Service
  • Atmosphere and Location
  • Address: 524 E. 6th Street, Des Moines, IA 50309 Reservations not required, but recommended.

About a week ago I celebrated another wonderful birthday in Des Moines. My husband and I have a birthday tradition we’ve had for a few years now. The birthday person selects a restaurant and we both enjoy a meal together, pretty simple. But it’s always really hard for me to select just one favorite local restaurant. So where did we go for my birthday dinner in Des Moines? Alba in the East Village!

Alba is the perfect spot for a romantic dinner, night out with the girls or a business dinner. It’s low-lit, simply decorated (look at the ceiling in the main dining space) and the food is exceptional. Not to mention, the luscious dishes are paired with top-notch service from a well-educated staff.

Here’s a sneak peek into my birthday celebration! What do you do for your birthday in Des Moines?

Pictured below:

[1] Cupcakes from Scratch Cupcakery. Warning: if you try one you will want to eat a whole dozen. Shout out to my little sister for sending this tasty birthday treat to me!


[2] More Cupcakes and Salad – Left – Scotcheroo, Sully and Oh Happy Day cupcakes from Scratch Cucakery. Right – Citrus Braised Octopus Salad from Alba featuring beet and fennel salad, parsnip emulsion, couscous pistou and octopus! Honestly, this dish was one of the craziest things I’ve ever tasted. There were at least five different textures and tastes all built into one unique salad. Try this dish if you’re feeling adventurous.


[3] Brussels Sprouts – I discovered a love for brussels sprouts this past December when I tried them at +39, a new Italian Restaurant in Ames. Now every time I see them on a restaurant menu I have to try them. This trip to Alba was no different. The brussels sprouts were packed with flavor and cooked to perfection. They were a suitable appetizer for two.


[4] Potato Chive Gnocchi – Our waiter informed us that they almost removed the gnocchi from the menu this past year and I think I almost had a heart attack in front of him. Let’s be serious – how could they think about doing that? Alba’s gnocchi is the best in Des Moines! But, no worries, they still have it on the menu. (Insert huge sigh of relief here.)


[5] 1/2 Price Wine – Did you know bottles of wine (under $100) are 1/2 price on Wednesday’s at Alba? Neither did I until my birthday dinner, which happened to be on a Wednesday! Cheers to that!


[6] Braised Pork Cheeks – Levi ordered the Braised Pork Cheeks and enjoyed every last bite. The pork cheeks were tender and moist and the “potato cannoli’s” (not sure that’s the technical term, but let’s just go with it) were fabulous. I think the chef fried a potato mixture to make a cannoli-esk shell and then filled the fried shell with creamy mashed potatoes. Crunchy, creamy and two times the potato.


[7] Molten Chocolate Lava Cake – Arguably one of my favorite desserts in Des Moines is the Molten Chocolate Lava Cake at Alba. The gooey, rich, chocolate center and the salt on top of the dish really make any meal complete.


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  1. Debbie

    Alba is on my short list for birthday dinners as well. Their gnocchi is perfectly seared on the outside. I never pass up their molten chocolate cake either. And I always add a scoop of buttermilk ice cream. That triply is something special. In terms of cupcakes, I opt for Della Dolce’s (Clive) cupcakes, baked in house from natural ingredients.

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