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by T and C

Tapas Bar?
After reading reviews my wife and I were excited to try Mosaix. Granted we are fairly hard to please as we enjoy
good food after living in New Orleans for several years.
Despite strip mall, interior is tastefully done.

Went on Tuesday Night and besides us one table was occupied.

Since Tapas is unusual for DM , we chose this route
Escargot, Tapas sampler, goat cheese with spicy tomato sauce
empanadas, and soup special.

Escargot veey bland, soaking in sauce-which was supposed to be garlic butter but not sure

Sampler plate had store bought hummus, halved baby carrots, olive tampenade- OK

goat cheese was again OK -spicy tomato sauce lacked "spice"

Empandas were obviously mass produced- think Costco

Best dish of evening was creamy chicken and tarragon soup
with large pices of white meat- unfortunately served warm

Nice wine selection with good number by glass with reasonable prices

Service was attentive while not being obtrusive.

Can't say I would go back.

Though not true " Tapas" , if looking for small dishes

"Dish" has been consistently good.

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by A and D

Mosaix Restaurant & Wine Bar

A and D last reviewed Mosaix over a year ago. We have been back several times and, as we say in the last review, found several of the dishes to lack a certain sparkle and depth of flavor that had been a hallmark of the kitchen a year or more ago.

Well, no longer. The sparkle and flavors are back! And also returned to Mosaix’ kitchen is Chef Linda Ritchie. Chef had been on a sabbatical to France for some time, having been the Mosaix chef for several years previously. Chef Ritchie has clearly brought not only her considerable talent back, but also her magical repertoire of flavors. Linda Ritchie is arguably Des Moines’ best chef, and definitely Des Moines’ best restaurant cook. And from the region of the U.S. where she trained, ‘cook’ is a term of honor.

To understand how a chef can ‘own’ the flavor palette of a restaurant, we should go back a bit in Ritchie’s history. For many years she trained in New Orleans, learning from the old, unsung masters of Creole and New Orleans restaurant production cooks. These are the hourly-wage, non-celebrity cooks who actually prepare the dishes in the celebrity chefs’ restaurants 340 days a year, and they tend to be local, older and absolute masters of ingredients and flavors. Their knowledge about cooking came from their parents and grandparents.

From New Orleans, her path led her to Simo’s Cafisto in Valley Junction where she honed her Cajun and Creole offerings and established a unique ‘flavor palette’ at that restaurant. When she moved to Mosaix, she brought the magic flavors with her. Ritchie is one of those chefs who brings flavors and takes flavors away; when she joins a restaurant, the flavors get much better; and when she leaves a restaurant, the flavors tend to dissipate.

Chef Ritchie absorbed the lore of the New Orleans Creole cuisine and the secrets of the old cooks so well that you can ‘almost’ figure out her dishes. If there are four ingredients, you might get three of them, but the fourth is a fleeting mystery; she is a flavor conjurer.

Her scallop tapas is a perfect example. Caramelized to perfection, you’ve identified the butter, deft garlic, parsley, and, possibly sugar. But, that’s not the last ingredient. Alas, it’s that one, last, missing ingredient that you can’t figure out that makes it her signature preparation, and keeps you coming back for more.

Mosaix is an excellent restaurant. John Teeling, the owner, and his loyal staff of professionals have one of the very best dining experiences available here in Des Moines, and we are most fortunate to have this fine restaurant. You could pick Mosaix up and drop it into Monterey, Sonoma or Napa, into Westchester County north of New York City, into Charlotte, Montreal, or any other dining mecca, and it would be successful and competitive with the best almost anywhere.

Teeling is an excellent restaurateur; he also is proprietor of JT’s Fine Wines and Spirits (next door to Mosaix) having not only a broad delection of wines, but with a superb selection of cheeses that cannot be found anywhere else, including the new upscale Market at Jordan Creek (and his prices are much more reasonable).

The restaurant is pristine, elegant but not off-putting, comfortable but crisp, and spotless. It has subtle lighting, accented with lots of candles; fine linens and textiles; colors that warm and invite; décor that is understated yet interesting. It a small oasis of graciousness that has been created from a passion for quality and attention to detail. The butter dishes, for example, are pale pink and white scallop shells. A perfect, subtle touch on the snow white tablecloth. The music is eclectic and pleasing if, perhaps, just a bit too much in volume.

The wine bar is the perfect place for a pre-dinner glass. The wine selection is what you would expect from having a great wine shop next door. And the prices are very reasonable.

But it is the food and service that complete the perfect evening. A and D began with a tapas selection each which we shared. The tiger shrimp, which on the last visit were somewhat bland, had all the wondrous zing of the garlic and the butter sauce that had been lacking. It was perfection! The mushroom tapas was a sauté of fresh mushrooms redolent of flavors and luxuriating in a mushroom liquor sauce that was transporting. The hint of sherry was in perfect harmony with shallots and butter and all conspiring to create a tapas tour de force.

The salad course was a return to one of Ritchie’s great skills. The Mediterranean salad has indescribable flavors comprising the vinaigrette. The feta cheese is pungent, fresh and perfectly dry crumbly. The greens are a fresh spring medley, perhaps with even the elusive Mache beginning to find its way onto Midwest salad plates. Delightful! A had the Mosaix salad, a mix of crisp greens coated with a garlic vinaigrette that was described as, “the perfect blending of vinegar, garlic and seasonings.” To be able to create these exquisitely balanced vinaigrette’s is an art form. Nothing towers; every ingredient is in synch; the result is memorable and compelling.

A ordered a scrumptious pasta dish combining with flavorful simplicity prosciutto, asparagus, garlic, herbs and cream sauce for a lovely follow up to the tiger shrimp. A very fair $14 or so. A glass or two of chardonnay added to the Joy of the Table.

D ordered the peppered loin of pork, medallions of perfectly prepared (medium rare) pork with a demi-glace sauce having fruit top notes, hearty base notes, and hints of exotic flavors. A simply prepared sweet potato mash was the perfect foil for the sauce. And this for $17. A very nice Spanish crianza by the glass provided the interesting wine pairing for D.

We passed on desert in favor of a lingering additional glass of wine.

Service at Mosaix has always been superb. Consistent, unobtrusive, professional, and flawless: those are the hallmarks. Our server, “K,” has been with the restaurant a long time and is a model of what table service is all about. She writes nothing down, is never asked for anything as she anticipates everything, comes and goes silently but with a smile, replaces utensils, clears without interrupting, and times your dining experience with absolute precision. And the professionalism of K is found in all of the staff. Again, John Teeling attracts and retains the best people and has assembled a team without equal.

For a great evening, great food, great service, great wines, the toal was $95.00. With gratuity, $116. We have spent $58 each (and more) for much less here in Des Moines.

Mosaix is under-appreciated by Des Moines. While Sage, Dish, 801 and similar high-profile restaurants get the top accolades, and chains such as Flemings extract top dollar and export it to their corporate headquarters, local treasures like Mosaix deserve our custom and our loyalty.

John Teeling, Linda Ritchie, and their colleagues are doing a particularly remarkable job of bringing us a quality dining experience at a price that is reasonable. They are upholding the gracious lore of the table and the elegance of professional service. They promote fresh, local ingredients, such as Sheeder Farms beef, and we all benefit from their continued success.

A and D continue to hold Mosaix in regard as our favorite restaurant. With Chef Ritchie in charge of the magic, John Teeling in charge of the ambiance and philosophy, and with K and company in charge of the perfect service, we see Mosaix as a continued first choice for fine dining in Des Moines.

Rating: 5 stars
Food: 5 stars
Service: 5 stars
Ambiance: 5 stars

Recommended: Absolutely; often with friends

Alternatives: Unique; must experience. Perfect for intimate, group, or larger events. A private room for corporate or family celebrations is available. But absolute perfection for two people or two couples.

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by Vikas

Surprisingly good place to go for dinner. Small in size but big in impression. Tapas good is excellent. They do have some vegetarian food e.g. Barcelona. In drinks they only have wines, lots of red and white to choose from.

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by A and D

Mosaix Restaurant
5014 E.P. True Parkway
West Des Moines
Serves Dinner: Monday-Saturday, closed Sunday

Mosaix has always been a favorite spot to celebrate special times for “A” and “D”. Owner John Teeling knows how to run a first class establishment and it shows the moment you walk through the door. We first enjoyed a glass of wine at the very intimate and cozy bar as you enter the restaurant. The wine selections are excellent and the bar service always perfect.

The restaurant, decorated in soft peach and celery green and awash in candlelight, makes everybody looks good! The tables are covered in sparkling white linen with underskirts in florals and stripes to compliment the other décor. Pentimento lends interest to the walls and the look of Tuscany is perfectly controlled and executed. Mosaix is, for us, one of the most romantic and elegant settings for an evening out. Glasses and silver are spotless and, thankfully, a very nice combination salt and pepper mill adorns each table. The addition of this element to each table certainly eliminates the pretentious necessity some restaurants utilize of having a waiter crank pepper from the house howitzer-sized mill.

The wait staff at Mosaix are all seasoned professionals and provide flawless and completely unobtrusive service. Many have been with the restaurant since we started going several years ago which says something about both the management and the clientele.

Mosaix has an excellent selection of wines both by the bottle and by the glass. If there is something special that is not on the menu and, if it is stocked at JT’s wine store which is next door to Mosaix, all you have to do is ask and it will be provided.

The chef at Mosaix is John Haas who has been a chef at Jesse’s, Bistro Montage and Des Moines Golf and Country Club. His culinary skill is evident in many of the dishes, however in some preparations, the expected surprise or different twist is lacking. On a recent outing we started with selections from the tapas menu with “A” sampling the Gambas Alajillo, tiger shrimp in garlic sauce and “D” trying the Pork Empanadas. The shrimp were large in size but the sauce did not have the expected snap of garlic r the flavors that should be present. The empanadas were topped with sofrito sauce which is a rather gummy and unimaginative salsa that was heavy on the cilantro. Other tapas we have tried include grapes coated with blue cheese, escargot, the artisan cheese selection, steamed mussels and the scallops. Most are quite good, but a few lack the depth of flavors that a master saucier might bring to the selection of small dishes.

Dinners come with a mixed green salad topped with house-made roasted tomato, balsamic, Maytag blue cheese, oregano or garlic. The endive salad, a la carte, is also superb. “A” and “D” both had the Maytag blue cheese which arrived with well-tossed glistening greens and a generous scattering of cheese crumbles. Salads are served with a basket of South Union Bread which, on the evening we visited, was stone cold, almost as though it had been sitting in a refrigerator before it landed on our table. Room temperature or a quick pop in the microwave would have done more justice to George Fomaro’s signature baguette bread.

“D’s” main course was a Hanging Tender Steak served with foie gras butter, roasted root vegetables and house mashed potatoes. “A” had the steak Suzanne, two medallions of beef tenderloin in a wild mushroom bordelaise served with house potatoes and seasonal vegetable, which turned out to be the same assemblage of root vegetables that came with “D’s” entrée. Both beef dishes were prepared as ordered – a very nice medium rare. The Hanging Tender Steak was very tender and flavorful, a model of hanger steak preparation. “A’s” tenderloins were tender and flavorful, however there was not a wild mushroom in sight in the bordelaise. The root vegetables were interesting but not dazzling and the mashed potatoes were bland and forgettable.

Dessert brought “A” a tiramisu that was not prepared in the traditional manner with ladyfingers embedded in layers of the Italian custard. Instead it was a rather soupy concoction served in a wide stem with two pirouline cookies on top. The flavor was very nice and the presentation interesting, but the pirouline’s did not provide the same punch that one experiences with the more traditional tiramisu. “D” ordered a cherry almond sorbet and it was a delight. The crisp nutty almond flavor was a wonderful foil for the rich dark cherries.

The bottom line is that dinner, while good, was not the exceptional dining experience we have enjoyed in the past at this fine restaurant. It is almost as though the chef has some recipes about which he is enthused where the flavors soar and sing. However, there are others that are almost tepid in flavor and lacking in the excitement that one expects from the kitchen at Mosaix. We have never had a bad meal at Mosaix, but the last couple of outings left us a little less enthused than previous visits.

Mosaix changes the menu several times each year in an effort to take advantage of seasonal items as well as a motivation to keep reinventing the food offered to customers. Perhaps the menu is evolving with Messrs. Haas and Teeling and they are still finding the right mix for Mosaix and the chef. We still return and enjoy delightful evenings at one of Des Moines nicest places for a special, romantic dinner.

Rating 4 Yes
Quality Very good
Service: Top quality
Value: Good
Recommended: Yes

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by Pensadora

This place is definitely worth checking out. It's a tapas resaurant. The selection is a bit smaller but every dish we ordered was great, and there was a decent wine selection. The service was courteous and knowledgable about the food, and the atmposhere is pretty cool -kinda of smaller, cozy, good for conversation. Plus the trio at the table behind me was speaking Spanish w/a Castilian accent, so maybe that's a clue.

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