Visiting the ‘New’ Proof

Chili verdi cauliflower is one of the best-selling main dishes at Proof—and it’s meatless.


By Karla Walsh

If first impressions of Proof 2.0 are proof of things to come in the local dining scene, sign us up. With kitchen and service staff helmed by under-30 innovators (including executive chef Diego Rodriguez-Negrete, sous chef Jaydon Hernandez, general manager/sommelier Jared Giunta and bar manager Karli Sandos), former chef/owner Sean Wilson left his restaurant in brilliant hands when he departed for the non-profit world late summer 2019.

Here are three highlights from our “first look” visit at the restaurant since it reopened just west of the downtown sculpture park:

1. Vegetables can be hearty mains. As mentioned in the September/October issue of dsm magazine, meatless options—even vegan ones—are becoming more common around town. At Proof, their sorcery with flavor boosters (such as pickled shallots, roasted corn powder and a good-enough-to-eat-by-the-spoonful 16-hour simmered marinara sauce) might just make your fellow diners who order the rib-eye jealous of your Tomato-Braised Fennel or Chile Verde Cauliflower. According to the staff, these are two of the top sellers on the current menu.

2. Desserts go far beyond cake and ice cream. Although pastry chef Megan Snyder and Hernandez have put their Proof spins on those, too, save room for the Sweet Corn Ice Cream with Maple-Bacon Blondie or the vegan Deconstructed Blue Hubbard Squash Pie.

3. The next-level wine program wows. Giunta curated a unique collection of bottles to feature on his reserve list. For the curious or new-to-vino visitors, the menu thoughtfully explains tasting notes and origins of each and offers an opportunity to try new varietals not commonly found in Des Moines. Share what you generally select in terms of body and flavor, and he’ll gladly guide you to a new sip you’re sure to love—similar to Amazon’s “You Might Also Like” feature.

Proof is at 1301 Locust St., Suite C; proofrestaurant.com.

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