When the University of Arizona campus reawakened in August, there was something new waiting to be discovered at the corner of University Boulevard and Park Avenue. The Dutch Eatery & Refuge opened its doors in June, but found a quiet corner without students in town. Now that school is back in full swing, Chef Marcus van Winden and his wife and co-owner, Nicole van Winden, are seeing business grow as people discover the hearty European Gastropub.
The Dutch serves brunch and dinner daily. We began our morning meal with some of their breakfast cocktails and a plate of the “secret” menu item, Bitterballen ($9—ask for it). The crispy-fried-on-the-outside, warm-and-hearty-on-the-inside snack is made from sausage and potatoes, with a dose of Maggi (a German-origin fermented sauce similar to soy sauce), and served with a side of spicy Dijon mustard. While van Winden says the classic bar food pairs best with beer, it also matched nicely with our drinks: a classic Mimosa ($3), a Desert Sunrise ($6), and The Urban Cowboy ($10). The Desert Sunrise was a sweet variation of the mimosa, featuring a combination of prickly pear and orange juice with champagne. The Urban Cowboy was a revelation all to itself, with St. Germaine adding a floral note to balance out earthy whiskey.
For those looking for variety, the Breakfast Board ($13) has a little bit of everything: crisp bacon, two eggs cooked to order, fresh fruit, a mini parfait, and a couple slices of van Winden’s French toast, which is caramelized and with a sweet crunch similar to crème brulee.
The B.A.C.T.L.T. sandwich ($10), made with bacon, avocado, cheddar, turkey, lettuce, and tomato on sourdough bread, offered unfussy sandwich satisfaction. There is just the right amount of each ingredient here—the flavors were well balanced, the ingredients well-distributed, and the portion generous. And, it comes with a side of crunchy made-fresh-daily sweet potato chips.
Those who like to eat burgers for breakfast have a great option in the Bleu Cheese Brunch Burger ($14), another exceedingly well-balanced sandwich. The burger was cooked just right, with a flavorful char on the outside; the fried egg was soft but not too runny; and the bleu cheese, bacon, arugula, and caramelized onions combined to give the sandwich a flavor that was a little sweet, a little salty, and all good.
My favorite dish was the Breakfast Flatbread ($14). The dense bread is spread with cream cheese and herbs grown in The Dutch’s kitchen herb garden and layered with melt-in-your-mouth smoked salmon, fresh avocado, and a fried egg; it arrives cut into six pieces, making this a great option for sharing. Fair warning: The dish is tasty enough, with quality ingredients in restrained simplicity, that you might not want to share it.
There are exciting things on the horizon for The Dutch. A catering menu is forthcoming, along with some seasonal dishes such as Stammpot, which van Winden describes as “a hearty, cold-weather dish of potatoes mashed with escarole, vinegar, and mustard,” served with pork belly. While he stresses that The Dutch is a “modern American restaurant,” van Winden also believes that heritage should play a part in cooking. He invites visitors to come experience his “passion for fresh, classic ingredients and get a taste of my background.”
The Dutch Eatery & Refuge
943 E. University Blvd.
Tucson, AZ 85719