I recently surprised Chuck with tickets to see Daniel Tosh(.0) at the Warner Theater. We both love his show, so we decided to turn the evening into a fancy date night. Chuck came up with the idea of checking out Blue Duck Tavern, a swanky American kitchen in Foggy Bottom. Upon arrival, we entered through a side door and walked behind the bar and part of the kitchen area to the hostess stand. Our table was in view of the kitchen including the wood-burning oven and French crafted Molteni range. We knew from experience that anytime you can see that much of the kitchen, the meal is going to be memorable, Blue Duck Tavern did not disappoint.
Chef Brian McBride serves hearty family style dishes which honor their farm roots out of his West End restaurant located in the Park Hyatt. We really appreciated the open kitchen. Watching kitchen staff in an kitchen visible to diners is kind of like of watching a flock of ducks on a pond: calm and cool on the surface, but just below the water they all are churning like crazy. It's fun to watch.
Surprisingly, the restaurant was out of several of the beers on their drink list. This worked to my advantage, because the lack of Chuck's choices resulted in an upgrade in wine for me (not sure how that works, but hey, I didn't mind). The waitress offered me a red that was reserved for the hotels VIPs for the price of the cheapest glass on the menu. Now that's good customer service.
The menu at Blue Duck Tavern proudly features the location of the farms that provide the ingredients for each dish. In addition to the complementary freshly baked bread we decided to order the Sturgeon Rillette (Pierless, NY), an appetizer that received a strong endorsement in DCWrappedDates' review. It wasn't what I expected, but it was good nonetheless. The rillette was thick and creamy with chunks of sturgeon, garnished with caviar, and served with crunchy slices of baguette. We highly recommend ordering an appetizer because Blue Duck Tavern does not rush the dining experience and the dishes are cooked to order, plus the appetizers are delicious.
For our main course, we knew one of us had to order duck, the restaurant is named for the bird after all. Chuck ordered the Muscovy Duck Breast with Duck Leg Ragout and Huckleberries(Grimaud Farms, CA), while I went for my favorite restaurant meat, Braised Beef Rib with homemade steak sauce (Creekstone Kansas). Chef McBride must be doing something right, because my short ribs were out of this world. Amazingly tender and juicy, they melted in my mouth. Chuck's duck was perfectly cooked and dotted with huckleberries, which was a first try of the ingredient for both of us. As suggested by my friend Alex, we ordered the Hand Cut BDT Triple Fries cooked in duck fat (Gpod, ID). These were the fattest fries I've seen, were perfectly crisp on the outside, and remained piping hot throughout the meal. The dishes at Blue Duck Tavern are served family style, making it easy to share (although to be honest, I did not want to dish out pieces of my perfect short ribs- the things you do for love).
Blue Duck Tavern is pretty pricey. You certainly pay for the beautiful restaurant, professional service, and high quality food. Save this restaurant for special occasions, or a baller first date. (Chuck's note: caution guys you don't want to set the bar too high)
We were both full by the end of the meal, and opted to skip dessert because we wanted to grab another drink before the start of the show (did someone say "super mugs at Chef Geoff's"?). The excellent food coupled with a cool kitchen and courteous staff will definitely lure us back to celebrate more special occasions at Blue Duck Tavern.