Dacha Navy Yard

The biergarten and patio outside were packed when we got to the new Dacha and we got seated inside. Just as well, since the rain was just waiting for us to sit down outside so that it could pour forth. The other benefit was that we became the prime audience for another couple seated inside: a low-budget Anna Nicole Smith and her boo, a guy who looks like he follows Jimmy Buffett around on tour. Dacha seems like the kind of place that would want to keep out the riffraff, so I’m not sure what it says about them that this is the clientele they’re attracting.

For a beer place, this was…not. There was one beer I wanted and it was from the Bruery and I don’t need to order a Bruery beer at a restaurant because I can just go to the Bruery store and get better beers for 10% off. LAME. I did end up ordering the Tequilajazzz cocktail. My husband paid ten bucks for the Bruery beer [eyeroll].

The good news is that the Tequilajazzz was really fucking amazing. Tart, super-spicy, fruity, and refreshing. I’ll just take a pitcher of this. See you guys at the beach.

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None of the entrees were speaking to us, but the shareables list was hard to narrow down, so we decided to order four small dishes to share. The first to arrive was the cauliflower tartine:

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Cauliflower was crisp but not blackened and delicious with the thin romesco spread on the toast. The bread was good but nothing super special. This was satisfying but not crazy.

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Here is the “asparagus salad.” I can’t like this enough. The dressing was peppery and rich, the poached egg was so good sopped up with the frisee, and it was just so fresh tasting. My favorite dish of the night, and it’s just a salad! But there were, like, four pieces of asparagus. Not four spears. Four pieces. Call this a Spring salad or something. Call this literally anything else.

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The next dish was the ricotta gnudi. I was expecting something more gnocchi-like. But this was a plate of oversized Gushers, if Gushers contained cheese (side note: if Gushers contained cheese, my 90’s childhood would have been much happier). Mushrooms, peas, and a cream sauce rounded this out. Delicious.

Finally. the pièce de résistance: the duck cassoulet.

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I…thought I’d like this more than I did. It was tomato-y but a little too liquidy, and the duck was packed in there but somehow kind of dry? The breadcrumb topping was delicious, though. Don’t get me wrong, this was still good, just a letdown after the other three excellent dishes.

Definitely would have stayed for a second round and potentially dessert, if only they had anything else worth drinking. What were the people outside drinking out of half-liter boots if not quality alcoholic beverages? Probably their own disappointment, along with their paycheck.

Price: $40 per person.

Bottom line: The food is solid, and fancy enough to attract Orange County’s most pretentious Parrotheads but not super groundbreaking. The cocktail was impressive but the beer selection was pretty bland and overpriced.

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