BEDFORD -- When his lease was up for Le Bellecour in Lexington, Frans van Berkout was presented with an opportunity he could not pass up. He was able to buy the property he had been eyeing -- a large house at the historic Prescott Farm, now Bedford Farms.
It was then that van Berkout was given the best advice he has ever received -- leave the Le Bellecour name in Lexington.
"If I kept the same name people would say, 'Oh, Frans moved, we'll get there at some point,' " van Berkout said. "With a new name everyone gets curious."
He opened Dalya's, an American and Mediterranean restaurant, with his wife Mita in December 1994. Dalya is not Frans' grandmother's name nor is it a misspelling of the flower, the Dahlia. The 100-seat restaurant is named after van Berkout's three daughters -- Danielle, Lydia, and Alexandra.
Van Berkout, of Winchester, also left behind the French fare at Le Bellecour, opting instead to evolve it into a Mediterranean-style cuisine, something the Holland native has always enjoyed.
"If you look at Dutch cuisine, it's not something you put on a menu unless you're catering for tourists in Amsterdam," van Berkhout said. 'There it doesn't even go over so well.
"It's very farm-type cooking," he said, adding that the menu's Mediterranean flair did not pigeonhole him into only offering one type of cuisine.
"We have a burger on the menu, how much more American can you get?" he asked. Executive chef Udiel Restrepo leads the charge in the kitchen and spent many years learning the art of Mediterranean cuisine in Boston under famed chef Lydia Shire.
A prime example of a dish at Dalya's -- a popular one at that -- that boasts both American and Mediterranean accents is the Mediterranean Boneless Short Ribs (aged certified Angus beef braised in Guinness, red wine and rosemary), which are served with garlic mashed potatoes with truffle oil, feta cheese and braised vegetables.
Another hit at the cozy eatery is the Crescent Farms Roasted Fresh Long Island Duck (topped with sautéed apples, fennel, sweet and sour cider sauce, and served with a wild rice, quinoa and amaranth mix).
"A lot of places only serve the breast but I think they're missing something, literally and figuratively -- literally because of the leg, and figuratively because of the taste," van Berkout said. The duck dish at Dalya's features a sliced oven-roasted breast and a braised leg, of which van Berkout said the meat falls of the bone.
One of the more unique dishes on the menu is the Escargot (with portabella mushrooms, sautéed in a garlic, parsley and butter sauce, with a hint of Pernod), which was also served at Le Bellecour. Van Berkout has it on the menu simply because, well, he loves snails and "it's clear that the customers do as well because it has been a menu mainstay for many years."
"Occasionally I'll take an item off to see what happens, if enough people say, 'I'll never come back if you don't put it back on,' then I'll put it back," he said.
20 North Road, Bedford, 781-275-0700, dalyas.com
- Hours: Mon.-Fri., 11:30 a.m.-9 p.m., Sat., 5:30-9 p.m. Closed Sun.
- Parking: Dalya's has its own lot, but it can get crowded during the summer when Bedford Farms Ice Cream season is in full swing.
- Reservations: Accepted (also available on OpenTable.com)
- Menu: American dishes with Mediterranean flair; lunch and dinner
- Price range: Entrees $25-$37
- Atmosphere: Warm and comfortable; perfect for a nice night out but also a great spot to go to for a nice glass of wine and an appetizer midweek.
- Try this: Warm Shrimp Toast (sautéed shrimp, garlic, basil, San Marzano tomatoes, Vermont goat cheese, on toast, with baby greens), Warm Medjool Dates with Boursin Cheese (balsamic glaze on meslun greens, tossed with Moroccan Argan oil), Crab Cake (with grapefruit, avocado, and Louie sauce), and Corn & Lobster Chowder (with cilantro, peppers, cream and chipotle drizzle).