Prior to last week, Rachel and I have only been to Blue Duck Tavern once, and that was over three years ago. While it’s been a long hiatus between then and our most recent visit, the food has remained exceptional.
In what turned out to be one of those rare summer evenings where the humidity was nonexistent, we opted for dinner out in the restaurant’s patio that overlooks the corner of 24th and M Street.
August is also National Peach Month, and Blue Duck Tavern celebrated the harvest by offering a special appetizer – crispy fried veal sweetbreads. Featuring bourbon marinated peaches and roasted Path Valley Farm sweet peppers, the sweetbreads were delightfully crispy but not too heavy. The peaches complemented the veal and peppers and it was a nice contrast of sweet and savory. It was a very summery dish that was accentuated by the juicy peaches.
We also shared an heirloom tomato salad which was prepared with aged goat cheese, basil, and olive oil croutons. Gorgeously presented, the colors alone were stunning let alone how refreshing the salad was. The slivers of goat cheese were strong but not overpowering at all.
As for our main courses, I immediately went for the 12-hour roasted suckling pig. Accompanied with baby vegetables, mustard jus, and topped with what appeared to be homemade pork rinds, the pig was spectacular. A knife was not necessary as it was incredibly succulent. Now I know why it is one of Blue Duck Tavern’s most popular dishes.
Rachel ordered the braised beef rib with a housemade steak sauce. The beef itself was delicious and fork tender, a theme to our meal, but it was the sauce that took it to another level. Thank goodness Blue Duck’s dishes are presented family style since I was trying an equal amount of each entree.
Of course we had to get the BDT fries as one of our sides, which did not disappoint. They might be the best fries at a fine dining establishment in the entire District. The mustard aioli that accompanies them makes them a perfect side.
We decided to try the daily harvest vegetable, which were dandelion greens grilled with fresh garlic and bacon. It was definitely something different and we loved every bite. It was also a nice change of pace from ordinary vegetable sides such as spinach or broccoli.
We could not decide on which dessert to order since they all sounded appetizing, so in the end we tried the milk chocolate banana smores as well as the nectarine blackberry crumble. The former proved to be a little too sweet for our taste buds but the latter certainly made up for it, especially with the cornmeal crunch which added a nice texture to the dish.
Despite not having been to Blue Duck Tavern in years, the kitchen has not lost a step. There’s a reason why it is considered one of the best restaurants in DC, and our most recent visit certainly validated that claim. On top of that, the service was top-notch. Our waitress was very helpful considering our patented indecisiveness on what to order, and she certainly steered us in the right direction in regards to the excellent braised beef rib. While summer is drawing to a close, be sure to enjoy their cucumber lemonade on the patio while you still can!