Friday, April 10, 2015

Dai Due

Dai Due has evolved over the years from a farmer's market booth with high quality handmade products such as sausages, leaf lard, and condiments. Then they started adding hot prepared foods at the market, and soon after, classes like snout to tail butchering. Now they have graduated to a brick and mortar establishment on a bustling Manor Road that is both market and restaurant, and they continue to lead the way in serving local and seasonal foods.

But even a place so highly regarded had its slower times. Seated at the bar one night at the end of February, my friend and I were at Dai Due to "celebrate" Ladies Night, which is every Tuesday. According to our affable bartender, after just a month or two of service, the head butcher (a WOMAN!) and other staff realized that Tuesday nights were definitely slower than others. And, they would have random cuts of steak available that weren't as popular as say a rib eye. So Ladies Night was born, where Tuesdays are $10 steak nights for a 6 ounce portion; on the night we were there, we had a choice between tri-tip and I think eye of round. Regardless of the cuts available, I am sure it will be delicious. And Tuesdays are no longer slow nights there, so ladies, make your reservations!

We started our meal with wine (Duchman's Montepulciano from Driftwood for me) and the house-made pecan sourdough bread with a whipped lard sweetened with a touch of cane syrup. Nice chewy crust, and soft but yeasty insides with a lovely spread of mild pork fat.
Dai Due sourdough bread with whipped lard
Next was a venison ceviche with purple potato chips, tangerine, and carrot. I enjoyed this, but could take it or leave it, only because raw isn't my most favorite. My friend really loves ceviches and tartars and she was very pleased! The purple was a really nice pop of color.
Dai Due venison ceviche
We both opted for the tri-tip steak, cooked to a perfect medium rare and served with a green garlic butter, and we split a side of the kale gratin which came in its own separate gratin dish. The steak was pink and juicy and tender and flavorful. And a complete bargain at $10, and really, I could barely finish it. It was pure meat, no bones. I also loved the kale, which had just a touch of nutmeg or allspice in it. Now the plating of just the steak and the butter was fairly unimaginative just sort of plopped on a beige plate, but I guess at $10 for an exquisite steak, you're paying for taste not looks. And by the way, green garlic is completely underutilized! You never (okay, rarely) see that on a menu; it's got such a nice mild garlic flavor that just reminds you that spring is coming.
Dai Due tri tip steak with kale gratin
I didn't get any good pictures of the interior, but I really enjoyed the modern galley-like space, with black leather booths and wooden accents. The skylights kept the space from feeling too heavy or drab. The market space is closest to the street-side door. There are a few different cases with freshly butchered meats, lard and schmaltz, and ground meats and sausages ready to take home. The main host stand is at the rear of the restaurant, or, the side closest to the main parking lot area and the back entrance.  Might be a touch confusing if you came in the street door expecting to be seated from there.

All in all, great friendly service and very fine food. Ladies Night or not, the steak and kale gratin beckon. Oh, and side note, the lovely east side location of Sugar Mama's Bakeshop is right next door; they're open late and they serve wine!