I had dinner at Blue Duck Tavern with my mom, my stepfather and my husband John on 4-1-2017. Our server was fantastic (we hugged her on the way out!) while the food had some hits and misses. It was the first night of a new menu, though, and the classic items did not disappoint.
Atmosphere: 4 out 5
Food & Drink: 4 out of 5
Naturally we were early so we first had a drink at the bar. Isn’t it gorgeous? I love the glass shelves. The bartenders weren’t super engaging but it’s also technically a hotel bar so I’m sure most people appreciate that. The music was very trendy, sort of a house/trance/techno vibe, which went really well in the bar but less so in the dining room.
I’m going to be honest, I got lost in this place about three times. It’s an open kitchen that apparently you can just walk through. I did not get that memo so I kept taking weirdly circuitous routes to get from the bar to our table, table to the ladies room, and back. The shortest distance between two points always seemed to take me to kitchen areas that I thought were off limits, like this space in the picture below where all the apple pies were hanging out. But how gorgeous is that marble island?!
And here’s the actual kitchen, which comes right after the apple pie rest stop.
But it’s all worth it once you walk into the actual dining room. How dramatic is the light at this hour? This is looking from the hostess station into the restaurant. That’s John and my stepfather sitting at our table with their backs to me. Such a serene space.
Once I got to the table this little buddy arrived to hold my purse. I haven’t seen a purse stool since Le Bristol in Paris. I love it and it was a very nice touch.
And now for the main event…
Fig 75 (gin, fig, mandarin, Champagne). This was really good. You could definitely taste the Champagne, mandarin and fig, but less so the gin (which I was fine with). The lemon twist was a nice touch as well.
Perfect Eyebrows (vodka, cranberry, ginger, lime). Well this might be the best thing ever. It’s probably a little too sweet to drink a million but man I sure wouldn’t mind trying. The lime was so refreshing and combined with the cranberry and ginger tasted like a Lime Rickey.
Oysters on the half shell (house made vinegar, shallots). These were very fresh and, let’s be honest, I wanted to straight drink that vinegar.
Crispy pork belly (spring onion, caper-raisin vinaigrette). The pork belly itself was good but the sauce was a bit on the sweet side. I wanted something a little tangier to contrast the richness of the pork. The crispiness of the pork belly was nice though.
B. L. F. (braised foie gras and lobster terrine, brown sugar Iberico belly, brioche, apple chutney). The Iberico belly and brioche were absolutely amazing. They were sweet, but perfectly so, and the brioche was oh so buttery. Oddly enough the foie gras and lobster terrine was the part that fell a little flat for me. The foie gras was liver-y as you’d expect, the lobster was kind of bland, but the apple chutney was nice and a little mustard-y.
Cauliflower salad (almond, yogurt, farro, salsa verde, plumped raisins). Overall this was also pretty bland. When you got a good bite you could taste the salsa verde, yogurt and raisins combined but that was kind of rare. Mostly it was just mildly flavorful cauliflower.
Wood oven-roasted bone marrow (black garlic butter, five spice crust). Now this was good. The crust on the marrow had great flavor and a little crunchy, which nicely offset the gelatinous richness of the marrow. Slathering the roasted garlic on the accompanying toast then topping it with marrow was also a fabulous combo. I would definitely recommend this.
Braised beef rib (salsa verde, pea shoot). I really wanted to like this but it was kind of boring and a little overdone. While not dry, per se, I wanted some sort of sauce. It was quite tender at least.
Rutabaga puree (fennel jam, Gruyere, crispy chicken skin). This was a side and may have been the highlight of the entree portion of the evening. It was a little sweet and very cheesy, almost like fondue. We all loved it.
Not pictured: Crisphy Brussels sprouts (cured lemon, bottarga, tonnato sauce). These were so good I forgot to take a picture! We actually had two orders of these. The sauce had sort of a mustard/vinegar flavor, which was awesome.
Confit lamb neck (marinated feta, harissa yogurt, charred cucumber, lavash). Man I really wanted to love this because, on paper, it’s all the things I normally would love. However in practice the lamb had more gristly parts than actual meat, there wasn’t enough harissa yogurt and the feta was really overpowering. The lavash was nice and crisp.
Wood-fired scallops (peas, lemon grass, pickled ramps). I was excited to see ramps on the menu since they were blowing up my Instagram feed all that day! And you could definitely taste their garlicky goodness. Unfortunately the dish didn’t blow me away. It’s almost like the brightness of the green parts overwhelmed the subtle scallop flavor.
Crispy soft shell crab (black garlic BBQ sauce, spring garlic). The crab was lovely and light, with perhaps a tempura batter. The sauce was sweet and spicy, which I liked but others didn’t. It did overpower the seafood a bit but the flavor was nice.
Moulard duck breast (cranberry mostarda). This was delicious. I don’t always love duck but, as they say, when in Rome. It was smoky, sweet and not too gamy. I loved the cranberry too. I would definitely recommend this.
Shoo fly tart (molasses pudding, buttermilk sherbet, bourbon raisins, salted walnuts). This was a little dry and because of that it actually almost tasted overcooked.
Caramelia Bavarian (bacon caramel corn, Cope’s corn ice cream, fried sage). This was really good. You could definitely taste bacon as there were actually pieces of it, not just flavoring! The mousse-like caramelia Bavarian itself was so good too.
Oriado chocolate ganache (peppermint whoopie pie, jivara cremeux, salted white chocolate ice cream). Our server brought us this and it was absolutely delicious. The peppermint was delightful as was the white chocolate ice cream.
Apple pie. This was out of this world and I don’t even like apple pie! There is an apricot glaze on top of the pie and man was that good. Our server also brought us this amazing bucket of vanilla ice cream for some serious a la mode action. I want to eat this right now just thinking about it. You absolutely must get this.
When we told our server about the blog she actually grabbed the chef Brad Deboy to come take a picture. I’m sure he thought I was a nut case but I loved it.
He also signed my Michelin Guide! This was our server’s idea. She said it so matter-of-factly it seems like this must be a thing that people do. Well, this gal has not been doing it but I absolutely love it. It felt like an autograph book at Disney World and now I have 23 restaurants I need to go back to real quick.
Overall I feel really torn about this blog post. Our server was so awesome and some of the food was really good. However, given all the amazing things I’d heard about Blue Duck, I was sad so many of the items we tried weren’t spectacular. Now, it was the first night of a new menu and our server really did solicit feedback from us. It would be interesting to see if any gets tweaked or if others felt the same way. Regardless, it was still a lovely evening with my crew.
And speaking of my crew, how cute are Mr. McGeeney and I?
P.S. Blue Duck apple pie makes for some amazing leftovers.