When I walked through Blue Duck Tavern‘s grand double doors, I knew it was a special occasion, indeed. Instantly I was transformed into a proper lady who doesn’t crack bawdy jokes for a night, at least.
Warm leather booths and comfortable wooden chairs sat in front of large, picturesque windows that looked out at brightly-lit trees in the snow outside. Inside, Blue Duck Tavern was elegant and welcoming all at once.
The professional, helpful staff made me feel like a princess. After handing over our coats, we were seated among other relaxed, hushed diners enjoying the family-style meals that are a taste of contemporary Americana. Straight ahead, a pastry chef carefully assembled apple pies and poached pears, while others worked in front of a wood-burning oven in the open kitchen.
Start with a salad of sweet, crunchy Brussels sprouts. If Brussels sprouts make you cringe, they won’t here. Served with mushrooms, carrots, and squash, they were a perfect, light accompaniment to the roasted marrow.
The marrow was very rich, very decadent, like a wicked witch’s spell. I was expecting the brown, protein-rich marrow you find in osso buco, but this was different. It was thick, silky, and almost pure fat. Long moats of it were served in a copper casserole with crostini, roasted garlic and sea salt.
The jumbo lump crab cake sat pretty on a bed of frisée and sweet mustard dressing. It was one of the best crab cakes I’ve ever had. Pure, jumbo lump crabmeat, without a crumb of breading, and full of sweet flavor.
The star of the evening was the Muscovy Duck Breast and Confit Leg. Extremely tender and juicy, with a hint of ginger. The delicate, crispy skin gave texture, while the natural flavor of the duck stood alone. The duck au jus made a delicious gravy for the side of super-smooth, creamy mashed potatoes. The meal put me in a sweet slumber that I would happily welcome for a hundred years. Sweet prince? Take a hike. Come back when you get a reservation at Blue Duck Tavern.
To end a magical night, I ordered the sweet chocolate cake, which makes a fiery entrance with its friends, chocolate mousse and rice crisp. Not to be outdone, my caramel cheesecake is creamy, and caramelly-good with a lacy gingerbread crisp and cranberry compote. One dessert is really enough for two or three people, or one pair of very large thighs.
Photo: Capital Cooking
Blue Duck Tavern at the Park Hyatt Hotel
1202 24th St. NW
Washington, DC 20037