As the full name suggests, there are two aspects to Dai Due. If you enter from the front door facing the street, you will walk into the Butcher Shop filled with a variety of provisions (more on that later). The rear entrance, which links to the parking lot out back, brings you straight to the hostess stand and bar in the restaurant. The interior of the restaurant is well conceived and quite functional. The herringbone pattern wood floors, French blue painted Windsor chairs, wood tables, and exposed brick along the back wall of the kitchen, all lend a warm, almost Provençal feel to the space. At the same time, it is thoroughly modern, spare and clean. There is seating in front of the open kitchen, some at the bar area, as well as various sized tables and booths throughout. Kudos for the use of chairs with backs here (so many restaurants these days leave you "backless" on wooden benches, which doesn't facilitate lingering and sitting back post-meal). The kitchen is a fascinating thing to behold, with the wood fires and special cranks used to adjust the height of the grills in relation to the fire.
We started the evening with drinks. I had the Honeysuckle Sparkling Cocktail, which is a honeysuckle simple syrup (made using real honeysuckle flowers) and sparkling wine. A touch sweet, but well balanced. My husband was very happy with the reasonably priced $2 can of Real Ale Fireman's 4. Wine and beer here is all Texas, all the time (the Grüet from New Mexico being the only exception). The non-alcoholic offerings include house-made sodas, aguas frescas, shrubs and tisanes, and the coffees and teas are sourced from local producers. The menu is ever changing and is a true reflection of what is available from the farms and ranches. We started with Queso Flameado with Chorizo Verde, Mushrooms, Pickled Jalapeño and Homemade Corn Tortillas. The queso flameado is served in a mini cast iron skillet with a wooden spoon that is used to spread the queso onto the tortillas. Very cheesy, with meaty mushrooms and a nice balance of heat from the jalapeños. A good sharing starter. For entree we had the Roasted Whole Flounder for 2 with Herb Butter and Preserved Lemons. This beautiful whole fish was tender, flaky and perfectly cooked, with the optimum use of butter and lemons (I regret the photos came out too dark, because it was a pretty sight). The perfect amount for 2. Our favorite side dish was the Summer Greens Salad with Wild Grape and Chamomile Vinegar. Simple, fresh and to the point. For dessert, we kept it light and split the Prickly Pear Fruit Sorbet. A wonderful blend of sweet and sour in this frozen treat. The simplicity of the food here allows the ingredients to shine.
In the butcher shop you will find raw grassfed beef, pastured pork, feral hog, free-roaming venison, goat, lamb, fresh chicken, quail and more, all hand-cut by their butchers ready for you to cook at home. Dai Due is also known for their hunting and fishing classes which may also be on hiatus with the opening of the restaurant (I found this interesting video from Dark Rye which gives Jesse's insight into the process of hunting animals--specifically feral hogs--with an ethical viewpoint). Among the shop shelves and refrigerated sections are many of their condiments and sides available to take home--mustards, pickles, chutneys and relish, rubs, pimento cheese, gumbo and chili to name a few. Thursdays are chicken night at the restaurant, while Fridays focus on seafood. Dai Due is currently only open for dinner, but breakfast and lunch will be served in the near future. I am so looking forward to those breakfast tacos again. (Cathy)