Statesman critic Matthew Odam visits hyper-local Dai Due this week. The supper club turned breakfast, lunch, and dinner restaurant wows the critic with their commendable ethos and skilled execution. On one standout dish, the hot pastrami sandwich:
A sandwich is only as good as each component. Let's break it down: The grilled rye, with its gentle anise allure, wasn't soggy with butter or too brittle and dangerous around the edges. Between the slices: tangy Thousand Island dressing, crunchy and just-disruptive-enough sauerkraut, melted cheddar from Full Quiver Farms in Kemp, Texas, and just the right amount of fragrant pastrami. All products (except the cheese) made in house. All delivered in harmonious proportions. Best pastrami sandwich I've had in my life.
One of many new taco contenders on Burnet Road, Fork & Taco gets a mixed review from The Chronicle. On the fusion-focused creations sampled during a lunch visit:
Weekday lunch began with the Asian pear chicken taco ($3.95) - woefully devoid of any sweetness or crunch. My anticipation of the beet taco ($3.75) and its combination of tart grapefruit, nutty pepitas, and serrano-citrus crema turned to regret when a fork-swab of the crema returned nothing but the taste of plain cream. We continued: The Jerk Grouper ($5.55) was beautifully displayed - an artful layering of purple cabbage, yellow mango, and bright green avocado slices, drizzled in scotch bonnet-rum crema. There was a fantastic zesty green salsa on the taco, unfortunately unidentified.
Dai Due is also Pat's Pick this month at Texas Monthly. Critic Patricia Sharpe finds a wealth of Texan ingredients and international recipes. The execution was uneven on her visit, but she still finds plenty to like:
I would recommend the lovely grilled whole pompano. Even though it had been cooked nearly well done, it stayed quite tender and moist. Our waiter scraped the flesh off the upper side and mixed it with the deep-green accompanying chimichurri-style sauce made from carrot tops, garlic, and oregano. Then he adroitly flipped the fish and fileted the lower side. My other recommendation would be a resolutely nose-to-tail creation: the butter bean stew with blood sausage. Two friends gave me a "you must be insane" look when I ordered it, but another declared it her favorite part of the meal. Blended with bread crumbs, cream, onion, and guajillo chiles, the sausage was mild, with a subtly sweet meaty flavor.