Ask a DC food lover for a list of their favorite restaurants, and Blue Duck Tavern is likely to appear. I count myself as an admirer. I love the feel of the place, as it manages to be simultaneously elegant and informal. The waitstaff is abundant, attentive, and yet appropriately restrained. You’ll never need to wonder where your food comes from, as it is all spelled out for you on the menu. Creative flavor combinations, appealing presentations, spot on preparation. Yes, yes, and yes.
My most recent visit to Blue Duck Tavern is a media event on the terrace, where Executive Chef Sebastian Archambault, Chef de Cuisine Daniel Singhofen, and Pastry Chef Naomi Gallego are previewing their spring menu.
You know spring has sprung when you see Blue Duck Tavern’s spring salads featuring fresh ingredients with pops of color. A salad with three carrot preparations is fused with fennel, orange, and olive oil croutons. Wedge salad is distinguished by tasty morsels of smoked jerky and green goddess dressing. If I had to choose just one, it might be the asparagus salad with fried hen egg, chili lime vinaigrette and guanciale.
It’s hard to resist seared foie gras with strawberry and rhubarb chutney on a toasted brioche. And what’s a visit to Blue Duck Tavern without duck? Thinly sliced roasted muscovy duck breast fits the bill. Jumbo lump crab cakes are also a pure delight.
Blue Duck Tavern boasts an open kitchen, but I’ve never had a bird’s eye view. It’s fun to watch Chef Archambault proudly prepare a delicate gold rice risotto with green spring vegetables and chanterelles.
Blue Duck Tavern’s pastry chef Naomi Gallego embraces spring with strawberry rhubarb tartlettes, and stunning vanilla bean religieuses (French pastry with stacked and pastry cream).
I neglect to sample the religieuses, and still regret it days later. My final taste makes up for my momentary lapse in judgment. Mint chocolate chip push up pops render a few of us speechless, with its shock of flavor and minty goodness. The mint tastes like its been freshly plucked from the garden. Such a treat!
Spring has been a long time coming this year. There may be no better way to celebrate its bounty than a visit to Blue Duck Tavern.
Blue Duck Tavern, 1201 24th Street, NW, Washington, DC
Washingtonian, 100 Very Best Restaurants 2014, #7
My Previous Reviews of Blue Duck Tavern