For some restaurant-goers the food is the most important aspect of a dining experience. For others, an enjoyable meal must include the right atmosphere. At Duo Restaurant and Lounge both needs are met. It is impossible to look past the restaurant’s lavish and unique décor, which includes hand-painted columns made to look like crocodile skin, Swarovski crystal chandeliers, and large portraits of Duo's owners, Sabina and Lorraine Belkin. But the food is what makes Duo a promising new restaurant.
For those who believe a restaurant’s ambience is as important as its menu, Duo’s luxurious style made for an enjoyable experience. While the individual purse stools were a bit much, the overall vibe is pleasant and upscale without being pretentious. The dishes on the menu are impressive, but not so much the menus themselves, which are illuminated and cast a harsh, eerie glow.
There are some interesting drink options. All of the cocktails sampled were sippable and strong. The most outstanding was the Wild Berry Mojito, which, thanks to fresh mint and berries, tasted like summer in a glass. The cucumber cantaloupe and pink grapefruit mint martinis were also fruity without being too sweet.
Salads start the meal nicely. The lobster and avocado salad was rich and creamy with the bright acidity of pink grapefruit. But it's even more difficult to stop eating the crispy calamari salad. It strikes the perfect balance with a mix of baby arugula, fennel, and mango.
The waiter noted the Chilean sea bass was the best seafood item on the menu. The fish was perfectly cooked, and its tangy honey tamari glaze kept it from being boring. But the grilled prawns with ratatouille were just as delicious; the light yet hearty ratatouille stood out as the perfect summer side dish. The hanger steak au poivre and the glazed duck both had impressive presentations and good flavors.
Be sure to save room for dessert. There are numerous options, but you may find it difficult to order anything else after learning about the hot chocolate cake with white chocolate gelato. The “cake" is really just a rich gooey chocolate concoction covered in marshmallow. It does not disappoint — though its intense sweetness makes it the perfect dessert to share with a fellow chocoholic. The hazelnut crêpes, peanut butter mousse, and cheesecake duo (which the waiter called “the Ferrari of cheesecakes”) were also delicious, though nearly impossible to focus on after the hot chocolate cake is placed on the table.
Overall, dining at Duo is a great experience (though I would definitely be fine with placing my purse on the chair or the floor next time). If you plan to visit the restaurant any time soon here's some advice: bring sunglasses for reading the menu, start with the Wild Berry Mojito, and end with the Hot Chocolate Cake.