I'll start by saying that I love downtown Dunedin and its cute little galleries, antique shops and restaurants (of course). Highly walkable and insanely quaint, I find myself very often needing to "get my Dunedin on". Since wallet and caloric restrictions make it impossible to enjoy dinner at The Black Pearl on every visit, Cafe Alfresco provides a charming and budget-friendly lunch alternative.
Located right on the Pinellas Trail, Cafe Alfresco offers an inviting bistro and bakery setting (kicked up by way of a full liquor bar) along with a beautiful sun room dining area with wall-to-wall glass sliders and A/C which can be tweaked according to the weather. On our August visit, it was a sliders closed and A/C at full tilt kinda day. A glimpse of the scene:
Alfresco does not pretend to be anything other than what it is...a casual American bistro. And it does that really well. The menu is full of familiar standards, but they are all executed well over a notch above the offerings of any similarly priced chain resto. Service has been unfailingly attentive and professional on each of my half dozen visits over the past several years.
I adore the Feta Alfresco (Feta Cheese, Lightly Breaded in Panko Bread Crumbs, presented golden brown and served over Marinara Sauce with Garlic Cheese Bread) and can never seem to NOT order it. Hot, crispy on the outside, melty on the inside, served atop tangy and fresh-tasting marinara sauce, plus toastilicious garlic toast points....check, check, check, check, check. Nothing not to like here.
Since my "baby" bro (who is roughly 6' 4" and 240 lbs.) and his SO joined us for lunch, we felt it prudent to order a second starter. The house made Pork and Vegetable Egg Rolls with Asian dipping sauce are better than most you'll get at local Chinese restaurants and receive bonus points for their little sidecar of seaweed salad.
The menfolk were clearly both in a "Crustacean State of Mind" as they both zeroed in on Lobster. The feigning-health-consciousness UD opted for the Lobster Salad while BB went no-holds-barred for the Lobster Roll (which came with a generous pile of perfect hot and crispy french fries...all for less than $14.00). There was no skimping on the lobster salad in either offerings and the firm, sweet flavor of the meat left no doubt as to its freshness. There was also a zippy hint of spice in dressing, which both boyz loved.
Kim could not even begin to finish her $9.95 Chicken Salad Club Wrap with Bacon Bits and Lettuce (she had them hold the tomato...that's my girl!). The Chicken Salad was of the same caliber as the Lobster Salad (generously meaty, fresh-tasting and not overly dressed) and the accompanying skin-on, cool and creamy potato salad elicited raves.
Now on to my entree. Being a liverphile to the highest power, I can never resist the lure of Alfresco's Crispy Fried Chicken Livers with Bacon and Onion. Let's face it, no one wants to battle iron-poor blood...that's why I stay diligent. Chicken livers don't get any better than this.
All of this, with two mimosas and two glasses of wine plus soda and tea for the non-imbibers set us back a grand total of $100 for four. Cafe Alfresco is the deal of the century based on location, cuteness factor, service and food quality.
My blog entries contain the unmitigated, and sometimes unforgiving, dining truths and perceptions I experience as an ordinary restaurant patron. Every meal I post about has been fully paid for by one of the participating members of my personal dining party. I do not engage in the gratis blogger freebie dining events I'm constantly invited to attend and never will. If I ooze font-like love for a restaurant in my blog, it's because they totally earned it…not because they gave me free food or knew I was going to share the experience on the internet.