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Aug 25, 2014 09:36 AM

Dai Due

Went Saturday night for a late dinner. If there is a negative about this place it is that it is going to be a tough ticket to get in the future. Every neighborhood should have a place like this!

Ambience: Loved it. Comfy, you could get dressed up and go or go as you are. The meat counter had some cool stuff I wish I could have taken home, but we were heading out afterwards for drinks. Lots of booths, and good use of what could easily have been an odd space. Open Kitchen that didn't seem nearly as hectic as many restaurants. probably because most of his food requires longer preparations done previous to "firing".

Service: quick, non-intrusive. Waiter was knowledgeable about menu items. A requirement in a place like this where not everything on the menu is immediately familiar.

Food: If you have ever been to a Dai Due supper club or a Farmer's Market you know what you are getting here. Portions were generous and shareable.. Everything was really good and of course super fresh and hyper local. We had the cold meat plate (mouse and rillette were highly memorable). A crudo (can't remember the fish, maybe amberjack) that was maybe the shakiest item of the night. it was good but this town has so many dishes like this thanks to uchi that it just didn't stand out. Chorizo queso flameado a treat served in a skillet with the cheese on the bottom worthy of scraping out and putting on a tortilla.

Also had two deserts- poached figs and prickly pear sorbet. Complimented each other very well.

They also had a meat heavy supper club menu that a neighboring table got that i was definitely envious of.

All told with a few glasses of wine and a beer our tab was around $100. I don't know if that is soft opening prices or typical, but definitely a steal.

Menu changes often I imagine, so I look forward to going back often.

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  1. We went last night & had a great experience. Service was knowledgable and on top of it without seeming rushy.

    Food was seriously great. No fancy presentations at all, just super high quality ingredients well put together - reminds me of something i would like to eat or serve at my house, just at 10x the execution of what i could do.

    We had mesquite bread w/ whipped honey lard, sides were duck broth / miso & some sort of tomato, cheese & dried beef salad. All really good.

    Entrees were killer - andouille & shrimp on rice (sounds simple but !!! it was good) & blood sausage & beans (also excellent).

    Had figs & custard and slice of apple pie with cheese. All accompanied by a nice bottle of texas wine (chris williams). Plus herbal tea. $150 before tip.

    Con: two insufferable dbags sitting next to us that would not shut up. The two tops running down the middle of the space are pretty cozy. Wouldn't have mattered with normal patrons.

    I wouldn't be surprised at all if this joint topped some best of lists.
    What is the competition for best new restaurant this year?

    1. Huh. We went on Saturday and had a not-so-good experience. The meal started out fine - the tomato salad wasn't amazing but was perfectly serviceable; the mushrooms were fantastic; the bread with honey whipped lard was tasty. But we got a 36-ounce ribeye to share ($92) and while the presentation was eye-popping (served on a beef shoulder blade) and the flavor was great, the beef was painfully chewy. We probably should have sent it back, but...well, you know how that is. We also got a shrimp and grits which was tasty, but not really my flavor profile. The side of home fries was excellent, but the $92 chewing gum really put a damper on the whole meal.

      12 Replies
      1. re: Optimista

        yikes. that's a pretty pricey plate of chewing gum.

        1. re: Optimista

          I have to echo your sentiments. Went with wife on Friday. First thing that irks me is the listing for filtered sparkling or still tap water at $3/500ml. This seems a bit steep to me. At least give a liter at this price. At the very least, offer unfiltered tap without prompting as otherwise the customer feels very awkward about having to ask for free water. To be fair, the alchohol prices are normal and we ended up getting some made to order sodas that were pretty good as we weren't in a booze mood that evening ( plum and dry lime I believe).

          Got the following dishes

          Fried Bluegill - $12
          cured meat plate - $16
          Roasted Duck Breast -$25
          Supper Club Menu (came with a small app, a main, a dessert, and a coffee) - $ 35

          On this day the Supper Club Menu/Plat duJour was an appetizer plate of 4 items, Guacamole, grouper escebeche, grouper ceviche, pickled shrimp.

          I could have done with more fish as there seemed in total about a tablespoon full of fish. 2 medium sized pickled shrimp, and about a tablespoon of Guacamole along with some in house made totopos. The ceviche was good tasting and clean. I didn't taste enough of the escebeche to form an opinion as there was a total of 1 Starburst sized piece. The pickled shrimp was meh. Guacamole was good but again was only about 4 or 5 chips worth.

          Main was a fish soup. Broth was very complex tasting and tasty with hints of being cooked from shellfish shell and fishbones. There were small flakes of whitefish. What kind of fish I couldn't say as again the flakes were about the size of a single piece of Orzo and I couldn't get much texturally. On the other hand, I guess in fear of having their diner go hungry, the soup was filled with large pieces of red potato and a large piece of grilled bread with rouille. I liked the grilled bread with rouille as it reminds me of a good bouiliabaise but having both the bread and what amounted to 2 whole red bliss potatoes makes the dish way too starch heavy. I don't want to sound like the guy in "Big Night" who complains of no seafood in the seafood risotto but in this case the soup could really have been helped with 1 or 2 mussels, 1 or 2 shrimp, a bigger piece of fish, some squid, anything....

          Fried Bluegill - I'm always excited when a chef is willing to challenge the diner with something thats not perfectedly filleted/deboned/deskined, which is why I was excited to see a whole fish fried bone and all. It was also good of the waitstaff to explain to eat as much as you can as I'm sure the dish might be a bit intimidating to those not used to very boney fish. The good, very good frying with clean, nicely flavored cornmeal crust. Fish flesh was sweet signifying its freshness. The bad. The fish is a bit too thick to prepare this way as the internal bones don't get enough heat and thus are still very hard and not edible as intended. The fins of the fish at the surface is also way too hard to eat. The plate came with 1 fish and a lot of hashbrowns. Again, the fish to potato ratio is way off. Much rather it came with 2 fish and no potatoes and was charged 3 or 4 dollars more.

          cured meat plate. No complaints. Great tasting selection in particular the chicken liver mousse and the Lomo. I like that everything tastes of meat instead of spice, cream, or cognac. I also like that there was a light hand with the salt. Only change would be to serve it with another bread aside from rye to let the meat shine. This isn't a pastrami sandwich where you need the heft of rye to stand up to the mound of meat. When you have something like a liver mousse or a single slice of venison ham to go with each piece of bread, you need a less overpowering bread.

          Grilled Duck Breast. Great tasting duck but tough. Preparation was on point as the skin was nicely caramellized and the internals were nicely pink. Problem was, this was likely a wild duck which meant that fat content is low in the meat. The meat while having great flavor which I rarely find in farmed duck, was very very tough and often with a piece of cartilage. The portion of duck was very generous. This dish also came with a ginormous mound of mashed potatoes that was probably equivalent to 1 1/2 to 2 full sized russets.

          Dessert was a very tasty Custard with figs which came with the supper club menu. No complaints on this and it was one of the better desserts I've had recently. Seems to be a slight hint of maple in the velvety custard with very fresh tasting figs on top.

          Total came to about $105 before tip.

          I find that Dai Due has some hits but the overall the restaurant has an inconsistent identity. Either fully embrace the nose to tail, eat with your hands vision along with the more affordable prices that this type of menu should entail or do more to accomodate your diners in order to justify the almost fine dining like prices. After all, would a hunter/butcher/locally driven chef pay for tap water however filtered it may be?

          1. re: lixlix

            the water upcharge really does seem strange. the first time i came across that was in london about 15 years ago, and it just does not belong in austin.

            1. re: lixlix

              Great summary, lixlix. Sounds like give it a few months and see if they take the criticism to heart

              1. re: lixlix

                I drink massive amounts of water, especially during the course of a 1.5 hour restaurant meal. At least 1.5 liters going on 2 liters. Having to pay for water would be a complete deal breaker for me. I never drink alcohol, wine, or soda with meals - just the nasty Austin tap water, with lots of ice (carbonated water is fine, too).


                1. re: sqwertz

                  When we were there, the issue of water was never mentioned. Waitress was very prompt in refilling our water glasses.

                  1. re: WesTexas

                    yeah, just seeing this. we didn't get charged for the tapwater that was refilled promptly.

                    I think the exciting thing about this place is going to be the ever changing menu. at that price point if something is a misfire you can go on to the next thing. Going only on my experience eating Dai Due food for many years now, i'd be surprised if something was so poorly prepared as to be a disaster.

                    That said, I would have pretty high expectations for a $95 steak.

                    1. re: ieathereforeiam

                      Its certainly possible I misordered and I'll definitely give it a second try.

                      ieat, did you find the meat plate + crudo + queso flameado + 2 desserts to be enough food for 2 people, or did you have a few additional dishes?

                      1. re: lixlix

                        that was all we had. did ask for seconds on the bread with the meat.

                        If i had it to do over i would have gotten a couple of the veggie sides instead of the crudo. i think it would still work out to the same price. I was drinking the red wine pretty fast...

                2. re: lixlix

                  As a native of southern indiana for much of my child/teenhood, and an avid fisherman, I've caught, filleted and eaten a ton of bluegill. done well (deep fried fast with a simple salted cornmeal light crust), they can be some of the best tasting water-dwelling food of any kind. I have never heard of frying them whole. Probably for good reason. They're not sardines. Great report lixlix.

                  1. re: lixlix

                    Hey y'all, I'm the chef at Dai Due and thank you for your comments. To clarify, we do not and never have charged for still filtered water, only the sparkling. Also, we do not sell wild duck, which would be illegal, just domestic ducks from a local farm.