Let's Do Lunch: Blue Duck Tavern
For lunch, we ventured to the Blue Duck Tavern at the Park Hyatt at 24th and M Streets in the West End. Just east of Georgetown and Rock Creek, the neighbor- hood’s name recalls when D.C. was divided into Washington City and Old Georgetown and other locales. Today, it’s an easy walk to the West End, which was until the late 1980s a nondescript place except for Blackie’s House of Beef. Opened in 2006 by chef Brian McBride, the Blue Duck Tavern along with other restaurants and hotels reflect the upscale change in this part of Washington.
While in the ground floor of a hotel, the restaurant nevertheless works for both guest and neighbor. It contains different sections with Shaker-inspired tables and chairs, whether at the patio, near the open kitchen (sometimes noisy), along the M Street windows or at the very back, where we sat for lunch.
Executive chef Sebastien Archambault and chef de cuisine John Melfi continue Blue Duck’s culinary commitment to fresh, regionally sourced ingredients that become simple, care- fully prepared, flavorful meals for the pleasure of eye and palate. But the taste is in the details and “cannot be controlled by law,” as Thomas Jefferson reminds on the menu, which indicates whence main ingredients arrived. Our attentive waiter was helpful, succinct and likable, and it was time to order.
Chilled lobster salad frisée, avocado, blood orange honey citrus vinaigrette (from Viking Village, Maine): “tasty.” Mushroom tart, mixed greens salad, hazelnut oil vinaigrette (from Kennett Square, Penn.): “mustardy but delicious.” Jumbo lump crab cakes frisée and fennel, coral aioli (from Chesapeake Bay, Md.): “perfect, a total balance.” Wood oven roasted confit of duck leg, roasted baby vegetables, red wine apple butter (from Grimaud Farms, Calif.): “sauced up, moist, fell off the bone.” Crispy skin salmon, clam chowder, bacon, uni emulsion (from Skuna Bay, B.C.): “succulent.” Swordfish carbonara, egg, Parmesan cheese (a special that afternoon): “Unique, laced with complementary flavors.” For dessert: the highly regarded Apple Pie (“oh, man, yes”); the roasted pear, sun-dried cherries and pistachio crumble (“great”); and the honey vanilla ice cream with maple syrup (“the best ... it’s a gift to be simple”). The starters averaged around $15; main dishes, $25; desserts, $9.
Get yourself and friends to the Blue Duck Tavern for straight-up American dishes that are memorable and live up to the Zagat’s compliments. Not bad for a street that once boasted a greasy-spoon dive called the Pumpkin Shell.★
*Reservations for dinner and brunch recom- mended. The Blue Duck Tavern, 24 & M Streets, NW -- (202) 419-6755 -- BlueDuckTavern.com -- BlueDuck.Tavern@Hyatt.com.