You know you like a place a lot when, every time you go out to eat, you immediately put it at the top of your list of options. Or when someone asks for recommendations and it is your first suggestion. Dame has quickly become this for me. There are sensible reasons: it is a pleasant 25-minute walk or 5-minute drive from my house, they cook highly seasonal food, and have a great wine list. But then there are those reasons you can’t really put into words, it’s more of a feeling.
The first time Jonah and I went to Dame early last fall, we sat at the counter. We ordered the weird wine, the odd dishes that aren’t ordered as often (the chicken hearts, the mackerel). We chatted with our server about food and drink, she was charming, knowledgeable in a way that didn’t condescend, and at the end of our meal, she recommended a digestif we’d never heard of before. Dame’s space feels like the kitchen or living room I’d always dreamed I’d have: brass lights fixtures, dark moody walls, a gallery wall around the kitchen window, and natural light streaming in from the big windows. But best of all, what happens between those dark moody walls is all spot on. The wine suggestions, the service, and most of all the food. Combinations are perfectly balanced – fresh herbs play with a creamy texture which toys with a hit of acid. They don’t shy away from lesser-ordered dishes, and even better, they prepare them in such a way that makes them less intimidating and even inviting.
Ever since we first ate there, I have wondered (as have many others, apparently) if they would ever do a happy hour. Maybe I didn’t want to take up a table for just a small plate or two, or a seat at the bar for a glass of wine during prime dinner hours. Maybe I wanted a Tuesday treat instead of a full-out fancy meal. Well lucky me, the folks at Dame have decided to add a “snacky hour.” From 5-6pm and 9-10pm on Wednesday through Saturday and 2-6pm and 8-close on Sunday, they serve a small selection of their beautiful plates, a full or half pour of a red and white wine, and list a handful of their wines under $30.
So what did we eat? We started with the albacore confit with pimentón, radish, zucchini, and carrot served with toast––silky albacore with crunchy vegetables, some of which had been lightly pickled, all drizzled with a beautiful oil. Next was the bay shrimp roll, a soft sweet roll stuffed to the gills with shrimp that was tossed in a lightly creamy, gently spicy aioli. Lastly, since Jonah and I both have a weakness for chicken hearts, we savored the grilled chicken heart dish. The hearts were nestled amongst perfectly ripe and green pickled strawberries, drizzled with a beautifully viscous balsamic vinegar and sprinkled with marigold. We washed it all down with a couple of glasses of Chenin blanc. It all was a perfect light meal to send us off into the golden, warm evening.