Saturday, June 1, 2013

Local Eats: Blue Duck Tavern

One of my favorite lines in the Ocean's 11 series (the George Clooney ones) is in Ocean's 12 when George Clooney is at a jewelry store and tells the clerk he is looking for something for his "second third anniversary" because they got married a second time after being divorced.  In that vein, a few weeks ago was the second anniversary of our second first date.  Back in the day, we started dating, stopped for a while, so when we started dating the second time, we had a second first date. 

The funny thing is, during the time we were dating, we were totally not sentimental at all.  We didn't celebrate "month-iversarries" or really even dating anniversaries.  I think it's mostly because we forgot.  But now that Jason has entered some of the more special dates into our shared google calendar, we have annual reminders that give us excuses to celebrate.  Sadly the restaurant that we had our second first date at closed within a year of opening, so that wasn't really an option.  For our first wedding anniversary we somewhat randomly chose the Blue Duck Tavern.  We're both suckers for tradition, and the food was good, so we decided to make it our "anniversary restaurant."  (Side note: After we decided to go there, I saw a headline that the Obamas had chosen to go there for their anniversary a few years ago.  So that somehow makes us best friends.. trend setters.. ok, it means nothing.)

I'm not sure if they simply don't take reservations at certain times, but it seems like our only options when we've been were 5 and 9.  Our plan was to make the 9pm reservations and show up early "just in case."  They were able to accommodate us a little earlier than the reservation time, but we still had to wait about an hour which meant we had some extra time to wait in their lovey lounge and snack on some wine and cheese. 

We've never really been into charcuterie, mostly because I just don't think we'd actually had very good cheese and meats or possibly because neither of us knew the proper way to pronounce it.  But we tried some since we were so early and are hooked!  Lisa, who ran the cheese table, was so friendly and able to give us great suggestions.  Our favorites were the Beecher's cheddar and the Midnight Moon goat's Gouda.

Once our table was ready, we moved to the main dining area.  It was considerably louder and the chairs harder, but also had an entertaining view of the kitchen.  I must say, I really impressed with our dinner.  I got the scallops with peas, sea beans and pea puree' and charred baby lettuce with duck crackling and anchovy emulsion.  Both were so flavorful and cooked to perfection.  My mouth is watering just thinking of those nicely seared, melt-in-your mouth scallops.  Jason liked his duck, though the orange flavored sauce wasn't especially unique.  I'm not sure if it's just that we really really like vegetables or the kitchen just isn't as good at meats, but the first time we went we were also more impressed by the Brussels sprouts than the slow roasted pork shoulder.

In my mind, a good waiter is one who isn't noticed.  You're never looking for him in need, but he's also not interrupting conversation like a third wheel the whole time.  The staff at the Blue Duck Tavern fit into that category of good waiters.  We even got a little extra treat for our anniversary.  Jason has since told me I can't tell them it's our anniversary multiple times per year, even though it truly was an anniversary of sorts for us.  Jason and his principles...

Anyways, it's not the most trendy place, but for a classic special occasion, we've enjoyed it.  Plus, you can get points by making reservations through Opentable and Hyatt Gold Passport since it is part of the Park Hyatt Hotel.  Just give them your passport number when it comes time to pay the bill or contact Hyatt customer service about adding it retroactively.

And now I will leave you with a final Ocean's 12 quote:

"Look, it's not in my nature to be mysterious. But I can't talk about it and I can't talk about why."

Restaurant: Blue Duck Tavern
Neighborhood: West End
Highlights: Scallops and vegetables
Average entree price: $20-$30
Rating: 4/5

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