Located in the Park Hyatt Hotel, Blue Duck Tavern is a lovely contemporary style restaurant serving new American cuisine. Their menu is set up to "recognize the purveyors and artisans who enrich [the] menu with their fresh ingredients," so each course has listed beside it the area from which it came.
Our party of three was promptly seated and we mulled over the choices offer on the menu before finally settling on our selections. Having eaten there before, my mom and I knew that the main courses were large enough to be more than enough for a full meal; no need for starters or sides.
B. ordered the veal "schnitzel" with mustard spaetzle and mushroom sauce (from Chapel Hill, NC, $20). It was earthy and full of character, but the kitchen has still managed to keep the veal light. It had great texture, and we all liked that the layer of breading was just right; not too thick, and not at all greasy. Both my mom and I felt that it was missing high notes or a fresh acidity that a salad or fresh vegetables might have provided, but B. liked that it was fairly traditional. My mom and I gave it a 8.5 out of 10. B. gave it a 9 out of 10.
I ordered the wood oven roasted confit of duck leg served with frisee, a poached egg, and warm bacon vinaigrette (from Grimaud Garms, CA, $20). The salad was very beautifully dressed. I am not normally impressed with salads, but this one definitely stood out. The acidity and body of the vinaigrette was the perfect foil for the duck confit. I love the sweet, crunchy Kalamata olives and the wobbly, perfectly "saucy" poached egg. Everything together was lovely. All the elements worked together, and I gave it a 9 out of 10 overall. The duck was good, but alone I felt that it was only a 7 out of 10, as it wasn't as moist as I was hoping.
My mom ordered the crispy skin salmon, served with cucumber, hearts of palm, smoked roe, and sorrel cream (from Sitka, AK $23). The dish truly lived up to its name, as the skin on the salmon was beautifully crispy, while the fish was perfect moist and light. The sorrel cream, hearts of palm, and cucumber provided a fresh and light spring element to the dish. We gave it an 8.5 out of 10.
For dessert, we were all approaching fullness, so we decided that among the three of us, we would split two desserts. Every day there is a "Market Dessert" that is offered on the menu, and this changes with the seasons. When our waiter described their market dessert for the day, it sounded too good to pass up.
The Market Dessert of the day was a peach and rosemary tart served with vanilla creme fraiche and candied rosemary ($9). The roasted peaches sat on a dense olive oil cake (I wouldn't call it a tart, as it was more sponge-y than crumbly). It was a very creative dessert. The candied rosemary was very interesting, though I think had the kitchen fried the rosemary, it would have been more fragrant and effective. We loved the combination of the creme fraiche, peach puree, olive oil cake, and roasted peaches together. It was a very satisfying dessert. We gave it an 8.5 out of 10.
The other dessert we ordered was the milk chocolate banana s'mores ($9). This was rich in flavor but light and playful. I absolutely loved the brûléed mashmallow and the thin banana chip. The graham cracker crumbs went well with the milk chocolate. I do not know quite how to describe the milk chocolate part, except that it was like a cross between a panna cotta and a pot de creme. It was silky, creamy, and light. We gave it an 8 out of 10.
In the end, we were very satisfied and full, and as usual, we had perfect service throughout the meal. I highly recommend this restaurant to anyone in the area.
Blue Duck Tavern
1201 24th Street NW
Washington, DC 20037
Tel. (202) 419-6755