Most of the tables were occupied at Dai Due on a recent Tuesday night, the sound of lively conversation backed by music filling the cozy, well-lit supper club space. Two butchers worked on large cuts of meat, serving up six-ounce portions to the evening's guests of honor.
The unique East Austin supper club/butcher shop launched Ladies Night (Tuesdays from 5-10 pm) in early fall as a way to make better use of the meat from a cow delivered from Windy Hill Farms that couldn’t be dry aged. “It had wonderful meat that we didn’t want to throw away on burger trim, so we took out about 70 smaller portions.” Creating the smaller, six-ounce cuts can yield 50 to 70 portions, Julia Poplawsky, manager of the butcher shop, explains.
“It’s a means for us to be able to use a whole animal more efficiently and in a respectful way,” Poplawsky explains. And for the ladies, it’s a way to order a steak and not feel as if they have to share it, or regret it later.
In addition to the $10 ladies’ grilled six-ounce steak with butter (served a la carte), other menu selections during our visit included grilled pork rib chop, crispy pork confit, and grilled white shrimp and Andouille Sausage; available sides included grilled cauliflower, broccoli au gratin, fall lettuces and roasted root vegetables. A la carte selections such as venison ceviche, grilled mushrooms, and house-cured olives rounded out the menu.
Along with a suitably sized steak, Dai Due's Tuesday night setup features Champagne cocktails (in addition to the usually extensive wine and beer list) and a few specially chosen tunes. The steaks usually come from the hormone- and antibiotic-free cows of Augustus Ranch in Yoakum, Texas. Everything on the menu at Dai Due is regional and in season, so menu items vary throughout the year. “You can catch the changing of the seasons in everything on our menu, but most notably in our desserts and breads,” Poplawsky says.
The restaurant often dries, cans, pickles, smokes or otherwise preserves seasonal items in addition to using them fresh. Recipes are adjusted according to what is available. The chicken liver mousse, for example, includes caramelized onions in season, but it remains on the menu, sans onions, when they aren’t available. “That doesn’t take away from the dish, it just makes it different,” Poplawsky adds. Other recipes only make an appearance when something is available. The kitchen smoked the last jalepenos of the season, which have turned red, and blended them to create a sauce, for example.
Dai Due chefs cook dishes in Texas olive oil, animal fats and organic butter. Dry goods and vinegars are certified organic, and most of the grains and corn used are organic and Texas-grown. The wine and beer list features products from Texas, and all non-alcoholic beverages are made in-house with local and seasonal flavors.
Ladies, you’ve got to be there.