Inspired by a land down underEat This! Thursday, September 29th, 2016
No, not Australia; the land down under “where women glow and men plunder.”* But rather Australia’s quirky cousin, New Zealand – home of Hobbits and … elk?
Dunedin (pronounced dun-ee-din) Restaurant and Bar is North Park’s latest laid-back eatery. The newest addition to the Kiwi family of restaurants; the team who brought us Public Houses in Ocean Beach and Little Italy, and Bare Back Grill in Pacific Beach, pleases patrons (and their canine companions) with a casual beach shack décor. Wood is used everywhere, from the open rafters, to a gleaming sculpted wall, to the reclaimed paneling, to the plank tables. Brightly colored corals hang from the ceiling. The majority of seating in the insouciant breezy space is al fresco on lushly landscaped patios. “Butch” was waiting at the indoor/outdoor bar nursing a shandy when I arrived.
“I’ve got good news,” he said.
“I can’t wait to hear,” I replied.
After being seated, Larry, easy going and flashing a quick smile, presented the menus and directed our attention to the happy hour specials: $3 sliders and $8 flights of six beers or three sangrias.
Butch told me about a promising job prospect over cold pints. He enjoyed Lagunitas’ A Little Sumpin’ Sumpin’ Ale ($7.50). The golden medium-bodied 7.5 percent alcohol by volume (ABV) brew hits the nose with grapefruit and tea leaves, introduces peach on the palette, then finishes with bittersweet hops. A well-balanced simple and tasty pour. I quaffed Thorn Street’s Relay IPA ($7.50). The robust and fruity beer (7.2 percent ABV) is packed with pineapple and mango, with a touch of pine. Rich and malty with a hoppy tang.
I told Butch I’d keep my fingers crossed for his good fortune as we noshed on appetizers, Shrimp and Pineapple Salad ($13) and Scrum ($17). Scrum is a chef’s whimsy of fried panko crusted cheese curds, garlic-y grilled steak skewers, salty cod mousse, smoky lamb belly bites, mild brie cheese and waffle-cut fries. Baguette slices and peri peri sauce, a fiery blend of crushed chiles, lemon juice, citrus peel, paprika and pimiento, completes the presentation. The salad combines grilled pineapple and medium-sized shrimp with sautéed arugula, red peppers, cilantro and slices of cool avocado. Peri peri makes another appearance in the olive oil-based dressing.
We caught up on general gossip while we savored our entrées, the Bratburger ($13) for Butch, and the Elklango ($13) for me. The patty of ground medium-coarse bratwurst, served on a pretzel bun, is topped by spicy mustard seed, sauerkraut, Muenster cheese, horseradish and a lively dill sauce. The extra lean burger of New Zealand elk, with the merest hint of gamy flavor, is mantled by bleu cheese crumbles, jalapeño slices, a splash of hot sauce and tortilla chips. A crunchy mouthful.
We also shared a large order of steamy Portobello fries ($7.50). Slices of meaty mushroom are breaded in panko crumbs, fried to a golden brown, and served in a basket with a side of rosemary aioli dipping sauce sweetened by a drop or two of honey.
Sated, we paid the tab and agreed to meet again next week. “Maybe we’ll be celebrating your new job,” I said.
“Fingers crossed,” Butch replied.
Dunedin opens their doors at 11 a.m. seven days a week. They’re the new kids on the block, but I have a feeling they’re going to be around for a while. Eat this, hungry readers. You’ll be glad you did.
* “Land Down Under”, Men at Work, 1981
Dunedin North Park
3501 30th Street
Hours: Monday-Sunday: 11 a.m.-11 p.m. (Friday and Saturday 12 a.m.)
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