Sunday, April 22, 2012

Cafe DePaz (aka Mezze on Main), Dunedin, FL

Needing a reprieve following a week from hell, UD and I decided to steal away for a mini-weekend getaway in the nearby coastally-quaint town of Dunedin. Upon checking into the uber romantic and charming Meranova Guest Inn, proprieter David (upon assessing the types of cusine UD and I find most appealing) suggested Cafe DePaz...for which we will remain forever in his debt. En route to "case the joint" prior to making a dinner commitment, we came upon veritable cactus forest...which (despite my stern admonitions) Underdog couldn't resist checking out up close and personal. Maybe he'll listen to me next time.  No, honey...I did not pack the Hello Kitty Curads this time.
Cafe DePaz is housed in the building formerly occupied by The Living Room (which has now relocated to another building in downtown Dunedin). I'm not going to go into the experience I had there (at the Living Room) a couple of years ago...but just say "no". Trust me.

We met up at Cafe DePaz with some local pals and, overall, a fine foodie experience was had by all. The service we received from Jeff and Pam was friendly, efficient, knowledgeable and informative. Some beautiful, toasty focaccia bread with feta and olives came out right off the bat.
Everything on the menu sounded so appealing that we ordered like we were all going to the electric chair at sunrise, so I want to preface what you are about to see by saying that we did NOT eat EVERYTHING. Just most of it. Underdog lubs him some charcuterie and cheese plates, so he unashamedly foisted a couple of them on the rest of the group...both highly respectable renditions. Behold Carne Toscany (Salame Toscana, Superseta, Prosciutto di Parma, Grilled Zucchini, Fennel and Asparagus)!
The generous Rhone Valley Ruby Red platter was a stunning presentation of Camembert, Comte, Saint Marcellin, Ossau-Iraty, Figs, Grapes and Pomegranate Seeds.
We rounded out the Appetizer Overload with a chalkboard special...marinated, grilled octopus. Perfectly caramelized, this tender rendition practically melted in our mouths.
Our fabulous server team informed us of some outstanding wine deals (DePaz offers a couple of select bottles of wines nightly for only $20), of which we gratefully partook. The gurlz shared a full-bodied Chilean white while the guys slurped a bottle of California Crusher Petite Sirah. In fact, I blame the wine indulgence for the fact that I took pics of everyone's entree except my own. Boo. My Filet, Scallop, Shrimp and Roasted Vegetable Skewers with Potatoes Bravas were beautiful things, lack of photo-documentation notwithstanding.

Baby Boomers pretending to be cool partiers....Cheers!
Joe's palm-sized, seared sea scallops were gorgeous and off the chain.
The tiny bones of the tender, beautifully seasoned Lamb Frenched Chops looked like they'd been bleaching in the sun for a year by the time my better half sucked them clean. Served with a complementary five-pepper aoili and crispy fries, this entree was a winner.
The only slight disappointment of the evening came in the form of Buffy's Blackened Salmon with Israeli CousCous. Everyone agreed that the fish lacked the anticipated level of heat generally associated with a blackened dish. It was also a tad overcooked and a little dry (two thin filets were served as opposed to one thick one, which may have been a contributing factor).
Genevieve (the thin, young and health-conscious progeny unit of Joe and Buffstress who deigned to hang out with us AARP card-carriers for the evening) daintily nibbled on the DePaz Chopped Salad (Iceberg, Radiccio, Chickpeas, Red Onion, Pepperoncini, Cherry Totota, Salumi, Creuyere Cheese, Olives, Oregano and Red Wine Vinaigrette). It looked pretty good...if you're into salad as an entree.
Dessert time! And here's where things get hazy. Apparently, the selection changes often so the online menu isn't helping much as I try to piece together the tail end of this wine-fueled evening. Still, I cannot forget my wonderful clafoutis (a type of baked custard dessert that I've only found locally at Mise en Place before now). Sheer, creamy decadence.
Underdog went "light" after this gastronomic group gorge with a single scoop of perfect, dreamily creamy pistachio ice cream.
JP laid total claim to his ice cream sundae. "Friendly Warning...put your spoon anywhere near this and you'll pull back a bloody stump."

He then attempted to loot the luscious chocolate bounty from the dessert plate of his own precious offspring. Really, Joe??
Buffilicious, who is enviously skinny in spite of her apparent penchant for chocolate, enjoyed at least some of a big slab of moist and dense cocoa heaven.
What a great time! A beautiful venue, fine service, great food, cheap wine and good friends all converged to create a memorable evening.

Cafe DePaz on Urbanspoon

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