Dre's fills niche in Newton

| 27 May 2014 | 03:30

Driving down Spring Street, in downtown Newton, one might notice a somewhat familiar name in a very familiar location. For years, the Zagat Survey rated Andre's Restaurant and Wine Bar occupied the brick building toward the far end of the thoroughfare. Now, the sign reads, “Dre's.”

Andre's is not gone, it's merely in what owners Chef Andre and Tracey de Waal call “dry dock” until they find a new location for it.

“We want a space with its own parking lot and have some other specifications,” de Waal said of Andre's.

Going casual
Dre's is short for Andre's and is a reincarnation of the original. Intuitive to the pulse of the downtown community, the de Waals created a new restaurant to fill a niche. Dre's is a no-table-cloth, no-fancy-clothes rendition of Andre's.

“We saw Andre's as more of a place people go for a special occasion, where Dre's is more casual,” de Waal said.

The same attention to detail that has become the de Waals' hallmark has gone into the creation of Dre's. Keeping local, Dre's features hand made wooden tables created from a Long Valley sawmill and local produce in its seasonally-changing menu from such places as the Blairstown Genesis Farm.

“We saw that Newton really needed that more casual place,” Andre deWaal said. “So Tracey and I decided to reinvent our space on Spring Street.”

They shut down Andre's and started renovations at the space at 118 Spring Street and reopened on May 9. The end product is a more casual ambiance including such nuances as light fixtures made from wine bottles.

Menu offerings
The de Waals retained some of the more popular Andre's menu items and also incorporated a host of casual selections at a lower price point — such as salmon nachos with chipolte mayo or a cheese plate with cured meats.

The de Waals are very particular about items they sell, and a perfect example is their oysters which, like their clams, are sold by the piece. The oysters served are Island Creek Oysters, a business that was started by Skip Bennett in 1992 in Massachusetts. The reputation he's established escalated to being found only in the finest and most discerning restaurants including The French Laundry, Per Se, the White House, Andre's and now, Dre's. “They're delivered via FedEx packed in ice, and what you get on your plate was in the water the day before,” de Waal said.

The Dre burger and personal pan pizzas underscore the more casual end of the menu.

Other offerings include: grilled salmon with buerre blanc, the fish of the day, the soup of the day, the “soup of yesterday,” flat iron steak with a white wine sauce and potato, buccatini pasta with seafood bolognese, linguini with pesto, veal meatballs with baked mac and cheese with pretzel crumbs, duck confit with penne pasta anmd black truffles and a host of others.

Desserts include creme brulee, root beer float, brownie sundae, cheesecake, lemon berry shortcake, and cotton candy with sprinkles.

Dre's has a full bar and a menu of house cocktails, and as Andre's, a specialty in wines. To this end, wine is offered by the glass, or patrons can order a "flight" of wine which for $10 lets them sample three different wines either as they choose or in one of Dre's theme flights, such as a pairing of Chardonnay or Shiraz.

Dre's has a kids menu, and in contrast to Andre's, is open on Sundays.

“We wanted to bring back the whole tradition of the family Sunday meal,” de Waal said.

There's a regular menu on Sundays plus if you give a week's notice, you can order Dre's whole beef tenderloin and either sides they select or an assortment you hand pick to be served as a family Sunday dinner at the restaurant.

“Suppose it's dad's birthday or you just want to gather the family,” de Waal said. “Now there's a destination for that at Dre's.”

Catering to those with special dietary needs, Dre's offers vegetarian and gluetin free dishes.

Since the reopening three weeks ago, de Waal said, “We've gotten nothing but compliments even from the tried and true Andre's customers who were skeptical of 'something new.'”