In fact, NOTHING could be further from the truth.
You see, although Da.U.De does have the "Tea Lounge" tag emblazoned on its signage, as I found out for myself one fine Saturday morning, that this is far more than just that.
I'm never one to toot my own horn, but I have to say.. I think I was the perfect type of customer that Da.U.De. needed to try their restaurant. Why? Because I don't drink tea. '
Now, Da.U.De. Tea Lounge Made me a believer.
I'm not going to pretend I know how the entire process works, but nothing here comes from a packet. Everything you taste at Daude.. from the Drinks to the Food stems from the intricate process of drying and brewing of the tea leaves. Renee Sebastian is actually the ONLY certified Tea Master in the country today. The woman is the Yoda of tea brewing.
Having traveled in some of the most exotic places around the globe, such as Morocco and Africa, Renee fell deeply in love with the art of brewing tea. Her passion for her craft brought to life her Da.u.De brand, which operated a small stall in New York, and is currently a growing retail business in San Francisco.
Renee found someone who can match her boldness in pushing the boundaries of her tea's flavor when she met Chef Ramon Antonio. With Renee's creative genius in creating different flavors of tea, and Chef Ramon's innovative palate for food, Da.u.de's tea infused menu was born!
You read that right. EVERYTHING on their menu is infused with some sort of tea.
As I was checking out the numerous choices of tea drinks, I decided I wanted to try the Coconut Genmaicha (16oz P160, 20oz P180), which was Coconut Green Tea, Coconut Cream, Vanilla Ice Cream, topped with Toasted Pinipig.
I'm not a fan of the leafy taste of tea, which is predominantly the reason why I usually stay away from the stuff. The Coconut Cream mixed with the green tea stifled that taste a bit for me, and instead replaced it with a nice creaminess. When mixed together with the Vanilla ice cream, you've got yourself a something nearly identical to a delicious coconut milkshake.. except made with tea!
Renee suggested the Macchiato (16oz P140, 20oz P160), which Rina was more than eager to try. I took a sip and immediately assumed that this was a member of their coffee line. Renee laughed it off and assured me.. Everything I tasted in that glass was made with tea.
This tasted better than an actual coffee Macchiato in my book. Granted, I haven't had very many Macchiato's but nonetheless, It was bit sweeter, and it didn't have that strong bitterness that I normally associate with Coffee.
The funny part is, I don't drink coffee, and I don't drink tea. But I was the one that practically finished this, much to the chagrin of my wife.
When I met Chef Ramon, he gave me a quick rundown of his suggestions. He said, "We have a Foie Gras that you might like.." Many a diner might have jumped at that, but not I. The thought of eating liver, even one as fatty as goose liver, doesn't appeal to me very much. After explaining to him that i'm a carnivore, he beamed and said, "I just came out with a new.." and his hands look kinda like he was holding a ball, except from top to bottom instead of left and right... In my mind, I was thinking to myself "Please say burger.. Please say Burger".. Then he continued.."a new BURGER that everyone seemed to love.".
Now you're talking, Chef.
But first thing's first. Rina's love for breakfast food continued when she ordered the Farmer's Breakfast (P350). It was a combination of English bangers (sausages), Two slices of ham, roesti, egg, mushrooms, and roasted tomatoes.
This was a very hearty breakfast, and all the components just went together perfectly. The amazing part? Everything about it was tea infused.. and you wouldn't know it from the taste of it. I loved the roesti, which is basically shredded hashbrowns.
I'm gonna say this now. But the Da.u.de Burger is one of the BEST burgers I've had in my entire lifetime. You've seen me eat- nay - DEVOUR a lot of burgers in this blog. But this is perhaps the finest one that I've had. Everything about it was simply amazing.
The beef patty was about a half pound. Which doesn't sound like much to the average big appetite foodie (me), but at the same time, its just right because it isn't the only protein in this burger. A leaf of arugula is spread out on a soft Hamburger bun, and a generous helping of home made wasabi corn mayo is slathered all over it. That Wasabi Corn mayo is one of the best sauces you will ever try in your entire life. And though it's shown separated here, the cherry chili compote is usually mixed into the burger. It gave it a nice sweet twist with a gentle kick in the end. The beef patty itself was stunning. It was so juicy, I couldn't help piercing it to let the juices come out, until Rina told me to stop playing with my food. (Kill Joy)
Apparently, "Foie Gras" is the nickname Chef Ramon gives the pork cheeks, so the joke was on me! hehe
I dug in, and BAM. Awesomeness ensued.
I'm sorry to be crude.. but there's no better way for me to describe it. The burger was so good, it almost made me want to sew my ass shut.
(There, I said it).
I really enjoyed the potato wedges that come with this dish. It was fried to a perfect crisp but the inside still had a nice softness of potato.
It was a deep honor for me to be the very first guest of Da.u.de to be served the The Da.u.de Burger. I hope it did it proud. May it rest in peace, forever in my stomach (I'm breaking up here.. sniff).
Everyday, Da.u.de comes up with some amazing baked treats which they call "Freshly Baked". On the day I visited, their Freshly Baked was Peanut Butter and Jelly Scones. (Score!)
The scone crumbled in my mouth with the greatest of ease, and the delicious flavor of peanut butter enveloped my mouth with nutty goodness. I'm more of the "Jelly" guy, so I might have wanted a little more of that. It came with a scoop of Vanilla ice cream to offset the richness of the peanut butter.
I had never had a poached pear before. And once I had my first bite, I knew I had been missing out on a lot. The pear, laying on the bed of some sort of crumble, was so soft without being mushy, but was soaked in delicious fruity flavor. It balanced beautifully with the cream smeared on the plate.. However, I wasn't too fond of what tasted like bits of licorice on the plate.
Me with the awesome tandem of Renee Sebastian and Ramon Antonio..
The Driving forces behind Da.u.de Tea Lounge
Renee Sebastian is amazingly down to Earth, and easy to talk to..Rina and I thoroughly enjoyed our lunch with her! It was fascinating listening to her stories on how she got Da.u.de to where it is today. Oh and a little bit of trivia.. She's an amazing singer too! (although she refused to sing for us hehe.. but maybe some day??)
Together, they form a formidable one -two punch, with Renee spearheading the continuing innovation of the Teas, and Chef Ramon handling the reins at the Kitchen, using Renee's tasty tea concoctions.
I signed their wall! Right beside Frannywanny :)
Rina and I also loved how Da.u.de makes an attempt to be eco-friend and uses Paper straws. Its a small step but can make a huge difference :)
Renee's goal is to break the sterotype to naysayers who have a set idea on what tea is. Believe me, It's more than just a Lola's drink on its own (Hell she even has a SPIKED Menu for those who want their tea with a bit of a punch). And it can be infused into food without going too in your face with the tea flavor. In fact, I really couldn't taste tea anywhere.
By the end of our meal, I was convinced that I had been misjudging "tea" all along.