As a summer associate at a law firm, I was lucky enough to go out to many fancy lunches over the past 2 months. But at the end of it all, the one lunch that stands out most in my mind is Blue Duck Tavern, for its truly spectacular yet unpretentious American cuisine.
The interior is distinctively American, perhaps to reflect its cooking. Old-fashioned rocking chairs and an open-style pantry greet guests at the front reception. The expansive dining room features dark oak and wood paneling, and feels elegant without being stuffy or overly formal.
The meal began with the watermelon gazpacho, which I recently waxed poetic about in a previous post. For my main dish, I ordered the chilled lobster salad with frisee, avocado, grapefruit, and honey citrus vinaigrette ($15). It was truly a delightful summer salad, featuring a substantial amount of lobster. The honey citrus vinaigrette accented the sweetness of the lobster, and highlighted the citrus notes from the grapefruit. Beautifully presented, and perfectly executed.
We shared a couple sides as well. The roasted asparagus ($10), topped with bacon, a hard cheese (perhaps parmesan or grana padano), and egg was crisp and slightly charred on the outside, and perfectly seasoned. Surprisingly, the daily harvest vegetables ($9) were also delicious. I was expecting your typical boring sauteed vegetables (which is probably why I didn’t take a photo), but what arrived was a gorgeous plate of buttery sugar snap peas and carrots. The simple preparation–butter, salt, pepper, and a sprinkling of fresh herbs–really highlighted the freshness of the vegetables.
Of course, we had to order the infamous hand cut BDT triple fries ($10), which are quite extravagantly fried in duck fat. We felt a bit miffed when only a handful of fries arrived at the table, but be warned–a few fries are more than enough. The fries are very thick-cut and rich, yet not greasy at all. Definitely worth ordering if you have never tried duck fat fries, but not a dish for the faint of heart or calorie-counters.
I’ll admit we went a bit crazy on desserts. But at $9 each for a sizeable, delectable portion, the desserts at Blue Duck Tavern seem to be a good deal. Though I glanced over this at first, the milk chocolate banana s’mores ended up being my favorite of the three desserts. It was more of a deconstructed interpretation of a s’more, with crumbled graham crackers on the bottom, a caramelized banana custard, and a homemade marshmallow on top. The marshmallow was blowtorched just before arriving at our table, and had slightly smoky flavor, which accentuated the caramelized banana custard nicely. Overall, it wasn’t an overly sweet dessert, which is what I normally think of when I think of s’mores.
The chocolate cake with sour cherries was quite decadent and fudgey, but nothing too memorable. I did enjoy that it was served warm, along with the cold whipped cream on the side.
The apple pie was much larger than we expected, and easily could have been shared by 4 people. I loved the caramelized sugar on the crust, which added a divine crispiness. The apple filling was much tarter than usual, and in my opinion, a bit dry. I like my apple pie filling gooey, or smothered in a bit of just-melted vanilla ice cream.
If you are looking for someplace to host a special meal, Blue Duck Tavern should certainly be your pick.
Blue Duck Tavern
1201 24th St. NW
Washington, DC 20037