Blue Duck Tavern

After only one visit I’m far from qualified to judge this restaurant as a whole, but I can say that my one dining experience was a big disappointment. First of all, let me just say that the atmosphere is sophisticated, elegant, and modern. It’s a beautiful space with an open kitchen, pastry station, and cheese station that makes diners feel like they’re intimately involved with every aspect of the food preparation and dining experience. However, whoever designed the space must have gone to the L’Enfant school of architecture and urban planning because the way the place is laid out will confuse any invading gastronomers.

I valeted my car and entered the hotel through the main lobby and made my way towards the restaurant. I walked down a hallway and walked right into the pastry station. I was weary of walking through, so I backtracked and tried to make my way through the lounge. There are no clear pathways to the hostess station, so I had to meander through several tables, a large mirrored carousel column, a couple server stations, lounge chairs, and an enclosed glass box that contained some dining tables. I finally found the hostess stand, which was a tiny podium tucked away in a corner. My table wasn’t ready so I had to venture back into their maze/lounge to find some place to chill. It really wasn’t that big of a deal, but it was a pain in the butt and irritating that the place was laid out so poorly.

As for the food… the appetizers were forgettable. The chilled corn soup looked much better than it tasted. The scallops with English peas were bland and gritty. What really annoyed me was the fact that they ran out of a few items on their menu. The sardine app was out, the braised beef rib was out and a couple of the vegetables were out. I was so bummed about not having the braised beef. After reading many other reviews of BDT while I was planning my DC vacation I chose this restaurant specifically to try that dish. I reluctantly ordered the pork dish for my wife and I to split without taking the time to read its description. That was my bad. When it came out we were surprised to see that it was a pork sausage. It did taste good, but the idea of having a sausage as an entree was a big letdown. We also got the polenta and wild mushroom dish, which was tasty.

The redeeming quality of my dining experience was dessert. The apple pie was amazing! It’s not a slice of pie. It’s a whole (4-5 inch diameter) pie! Still, it’s large enough for 4 people to share.

While dining we noticed the couple next to us was getting ridiculous amounts of food — some stuff that wasn’t on the menu like steak tartare. It turns out they were friends of one of the chefs. By the time their dessert course came around they were begging us to try some of their dishes. We tried the blackberry crumble, pineapple ice cream, and vanilla mascarpone cream. All were amazing and portion sizes were larger than most desserts at fine dining restaurants.

So, here’s the moral(s) of the story…
– Eat at BDT earlier than 9pm so they don’t run out of dishes you might want.
– Read the descriptions of the dishes. Sounds simple, right? Don’t be an idiot like me and order a pork dish thinking it was going to be either a tenderloin or pork chop.
– Do a better job of ordering than me. Read the reviews and stick to dishes that get rave reviews like the bone marrow and braised beef.
– DC diners are friendly. While eating at Zentan a few nights earlier another table also offered us food. Maybe people think I’m not fat enough and want to feed me? Maybe they’re just friendly? Maybe I’m so good looking that people will do anything to get to know me? Who knows… but I’m not turning down free food.

3 Stars

1201 24th St NW
Washington, DC 20037
(202) 419-6755

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