Friday, April 22, 2016

Blue Duck Tavern Terrace Opening Recap

Goat Milk Ricotta Gnudi

The Great Outdoors
by Haylee Grey Pearson (Contributing Editor)

The Blue Duck Tavern hosted a media get-together last week, to celebrate the opening of its gorgeous outdoor terrace. All the elements were in place for a terrific evening. Perfect ambiance? Check. Perfect weather? Check. Delicious Drinks? Check. Check. Check. Let the games begin!

For drinks, there's the Strawberry Gin with Rhubarb and Espelette Tonic. Sorry, but no thanks. The traditional Lady Bird (shout out to Mrs. Johnson) has gin, rosemary, pineapple, Verjus, and house grenadine. I’m still not "adult" enough to drink gin, so the Oak Park is my company for the evening. Sweet but deadly, with Rhum JM, kiwi, and a lime cordial (to make you feel fancy.) Disclaimer: Side effects include liking everything anyone has ever posted on Instagram. Perfect drink? Check.

The Lady Bird

Next, the most important part of any restaurant... the food. If you asked Blue Duck Tavern to describe itself on a first date, they might flirt that they’re rustic American cuisine with an artisan touch. The food has familiarity, with unique spins (creative, but not necessarily dangerous.)

To showcase the Terrace Menu, there were four stations with three chefs and a cheese specialist, along with bites from the kitchen, sweets, and signature cocktails. Spoiler alert: Strawberries are making a comeback.

Strawberry Salad (Chef de Cuisine Brad Deloy)
House made goat cheese, marcona almonds, radishes, and mint. To describe this salad as fresh, would be a vast understatement. The mint balances the acidity of the strawberries (both red and white.) The white strawberry is the stand out item of the dish, something you won't find in your average strawberry salad. Deloy, you hipster.

Strawberry Salad

Elysian Fields Rack of Lamb (Executive Chef Frank Loquet)
Served with lemon yogurt and baby spring vegetables. Executive Chef Frank Loquet gets his lamb from Pennsylvania (not personally, he specified.) While the dish is simple, it's by no means anything less than delicious. Watching Loquet carefully inspect each piece of lamb before plating, was a joy to behold.

Elysian Fields Rack of Lamb

Spring Cheeses (Cheese Specialist Sophie Slessinger)
Driftless, Patmos Peak, Ewe’s Blues, Sandy Creek, Cremont. Served with artisan crackers (not from Whole Foods), a strawberry sauce and almonds. Cheese Specialist is my new dream job.

Spring Cheeses

Strawberry and Rhubarb Shortcake (Pastry Chef David Collier)
Strawberry Sorbet, shortcake, and strawberry. By my own admission, I had seconds and thirds. The winner in this dish was the strawberry sorbet, a nice break from the well known vanilla topping.

Strawberry and Rhubarb Shortcake

Other bites from the kitchen included:

Maine Scallop Crudo - Buttermilk panna cotta, cucumber and smoked trout roe. I don’t recommend. Not because it wasn’t appetizing, but there are better choices on the menu. The Goat Milk Ricotta Gnudi was heavy and seemed misplaced, over baby spring vegetables. Spring Hummus with chicharrones (or as we say in the south, pork grinds) was a creative trip. In theory, the culture blends sounds great, but in reality... not so much.

Maine Scallop Crudo

Luckily, the Strawberry Gazpacho was the surprise of the evening... Yas! Served in a miniature glass, I coined it the ‘Shooter of the Summer.’ Salud.

Strawberry Gazpacho

To finish out any meal, you must have sweets! The kitchen offered an addictive Yuzu Fennel Verrine, Carrot Cake Pops, and Key Lime Pie Cones. All perfect for eating outdoors, and just enough to hit that sweet tooth... without having to adjust your belt strap.

Carrot Cake Pops

Blue Duck Tavern shows up and delivers in a big way, when it comes to having a good meal. It’s a superb restaurant for family and loved ones to share a dish (or two, or three) without regret. The terrace is an oasis of sorts... surrounded by a calming fountain, flowers and planted herbs that double as garnishes in many dishes.

Key Lime Pie Cones

Blue Duck Tavern is located in Georgetown and offers lunch, dinner and weekend brunch.