As someone who writes about food I often get asked of my favorite restaurants here in DC, and on those occasions I always throw Blue Duck Tavern into the mix - I can't say I have a favorite restaurant in the city, it almost always depends on my mood at the time, but Blue Duck is inevitably amongst my top five recommendations.
I've spent many occasions dining at Blue Duck, its Christmas brunch is untouched by any other restaurant in the city, and I can't say there's ever been a disappointed client (that's right, I actually have a day job.) So it was on this particular work outing that I suggested Blue Duck, Executive Chef Sebastien Archambault recently unveiled the spring menu so it was a chance to try something new and seasonal.
I was a little disappointed to see that lamb was absent from the menu, it seems unjust to have a spring menu without it. There were plenty of other options to choose from, including quite a few seafood dishes equaling that of the meat options; Roasted Sea Bass and a very impressive looking Bouillabaisse to name a couple. As it was a work lunch there were more than enough people where most of the menu items were ordered, I won't talk about all of them but you should know that out of six other diners not one walked away disappointed.
I opted for the Hunter's Salad to start, lately I've been trying to eat on the healthier side and incorporate a few more greens into my diet, however today I needed more than a plate of leafy greens, a bowl full of root vegetables including carrots, turnips and beets, which I think by now most people are in agreement that beets are the star of any dish. Firm and plentiful, the roots were drizzled in a slightly sweet sherry vinaigrette, served with an also slightly overcooked quail egg - I was hoping it would be poached so the yolk would ooze over the salad, no matter. It was still the best choice of all the salads, and I was just happy to have some protein on my plate that wasn't meat.
The Confit of Duck Leg with Turnip Mostarda was my entree of choice; a perfectly cooked duck leg is one where the meat falls from the bone with little effort - that's exactly what happened - I took the tongs and gently raised the leg from the serving plate only to watch as the tender, and moist (embrace that word, get over it) meat and a crisp-salty skin fell into its juices below, if I had recorded that scene and knew how to upload to YouTube it would have gone viral. A couple of notable sides that compliment insanely well are the Roasted Wild Mushrooms which are cooked to a firm bite, never chewy, and seasoned impeccably. The other being the Hand Cut Fries which can only be described as crunchy-fluffy sticks of joy, dipped in mayonnaise, these alone with a cool glass of pilsner are worth a not so metro-accessible trip to West End alone.
I'll finish off by saying the food did not fail to impress, the speed at which the dishes were served, for a lunch could have been a little bit quicker, 20-25 minutes between courses isn't something everyone can accommodate during a work day. However, on this occasion we were in no rush to head back to the office so the leisurely pace was much welcomed.
Blue Duck Tavern, 1201 24th Street NW, Washington DC (closet metro: Foggy Bottom)