While the stereotypical kitchen is depicted as a place of chaos, where chefs are yelling at their line cooks and the wait staff can be seen rushing in and out of the kitchen, the atmosphere at Blue Duck Tavern can be described as zen, even with its unique open kitchen. While most kitchens are hidden from sight, diners at Blue Duck Tavern can watch the chefs and wait staff work quietly and cohesively to put together their meals.
Additionally, the restaurant prides itself on being a part of the farm-to-table movement. Their menu lists which purveyor they source from for each of their dishes, teaching diners about the concept of farm-to-table eating and making sure they know where their food is coming from.
When I dined at the Blue Duck Tavern, I was lucky enough to get one of the closest seats to the kitchen. The open kitchen added an extra dimension to my dining experience because not only was I able to enjoy the food like any other guest, but I was also able to see the amount of detail that went into each dish.
My party of four came prepared for this meal; we hadn’t eaten all day and were happy to splurge. For appetizers, we ordered the flat bread topped with roasted wild mushrooms and a black garlic emulsion as well as roasted bone marrow crusted in parsley and a head of roasted garlic.
The flat bread provided textual variety and the lightly dressed arugula salad on top was a great contrast to the roasted mushrooms, adding a really fresh touch that rounded out the flat bread. The bone marrow was definitely my favorite dish of the night. I loved that it was a hands-on kind of dish; you had to spread the roasted garlic and marrow onto each piece of toast. For those who have yet to try bone marrow, it’s definitely something you won’t want to miss when you see it on the menu.
The main courses ranged from recognizable dishes like French toast and biscuit breakfast sandwiches, both of which we ordered, to some of the more specialty dishes like their prawn baked eggs and their short rib hash. Needless to say, we at it all.
Let’s start off with the French toast and biscuit sandwich. At first glance, they look like nothing more than your standard brunch items, but you’re gonna want to take a bite before you make that snap judgment. The thing that sets the French toast apart from your standard IHOP French toast is the fact that they give you an entire bottle of bourbon maple syrup, for drenching purposes, obviously. The biscuit sandwich took a different spin as well. Instead of using a standard sausage patty, they’ve crafted their very own Merguez sausage. The biscuit itself was also perfectly done. Compared to the dense and overly greasy biscuits you’ll find at KFC, these biscuits were light and buttery with a hint of sweetness from what I think was honey.
As for the other appetizers, I’d have to recommend the short rib hash, just because I’m a sucker for a good potato hash. Most restaurants will load your plate with potatoes while leaving out a bunch of the goodies. But at Blue Duck Tavern, short ribs outnumber the potatoes. Garnished with a perfectly fried egg, the dish was topped off with the perfect sauce through a combination of the egg yolk and horseradish sauce.
Sides on sides on sides
We all know that sides are sometimes the best part of the meal, and trust me, Blue Duck Tavern is no exception to this rule. We ordered the hash brown potatoes topped with a foie gras mousse, as well as an order of the roasted wild mushrooms garnished with olive oil croutons. Just like the wild mushroom flatbread, they used seasonal mushrooms, which are not the ones you can find in a grocery store. As for the hash browns, these aren’t your ordinary hash browns. I’m sure a number of us have had hash browns at such world-renowned eateries as McDonald’s, but the hash browns at Blue Duck Tavern are a completely different story. They were fried perfectly with a crisp exterior while maintaining a really creamy interior, almost like mashed potatoes. And with the foie gras mousse melting on top, the amount of decadence in this dish is explosive.
Although Blue Duck Tavern is known for their individually baked apple pies topped with house made vanilla ice cream, we opted for the sticky buns and the special of the day, the chocolate hazelnut éclair. The sticky buns were essentially cinnamon buns, but the thing that made them really special was the caramel sauce. The éclairs stood out because they were baked fresh. The hazelnut chocolate cream inside completely filled the éclair to its capacity, almost as if their intention was to make it explode in your mouth.
Overall, be ready to splurge at Blue Duck Tavern because this place definitely isn’t cheap. I would say it wasn’t crazy expensive but you should consider making this your go-to place for special occasions or if your parents are in town. Students can easily access this on the Metro’s blue and orange lines, via the Foggy Bottom stop. From the service to the food, you really can’t lose.
Location: 1201 24th St NW, Washington, DC 20037
Hours of Operation: Sun–Thurs: 6:30am–10:30pm, Fri–Sat 6:30am–11:30pm
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