Thursday, October 31, 2013

Blue Duck Tavern, DC

To bid adieu to my boss of six years, I scheduled a farewell dinner at the Blue Duck Tavern in DC. Upon arrival, we were immediately astonished by how beautiful this restaurant was inside and out. From the outside, the massive doors and floor to ceiling windows revealed a contemporary setting. On the inside, the beautiful decor featuring clean lines, handcrafted wood tables, and 20-foot ceilings leaves one in awe upon first glance. A look around reveals this amazing open, stainless steel kitchen featuring a custom-designed commercial Molteni range crafted in France.

We were seated at a table inside the restaurant with a beautiful view of the fountain. The wine list is one of the most impressive wine lists I've seen in DC. An extensive listing featuring exquisite wines organized by country, then by type. I chose our first wine from the Sommelier Selection -- a crisp 2011 Seghesio Arneis from the Russian River Valley.

The menu didn't appear to be incredibly vegan-friendly, but our server did say that many of the salads and items listed under the "vegetarian," "vegetables," and "potatoes and grains" headings could be made vegan. He introduced these items as the side items and the meat as the main dishes. Minus two points for that one.  I should mention that I indicated on my reservation that I was vegan and when I arrived I inquired about the vegan options, but when our server came back to the table, he immediately introduced the meat specials, then later told me which options I could choose from. I was already beginning to feel like a second-class citizen.

When he brought the bread basket out, he included flat bread for me, which was nice. I started with the Baby Carrots salad. This was a large, hearty salad featuring yellow, orange, and purple cooked carrots making for a colorful presentation. The carrots were adorned with shaved fennel, oranges, parsley, and olive oil croutons in a light vinaigrette. It was much better than I would have expected a simple carrot salad to be.

For my entree, I ordered the Farro dish with wood oven-roasted baby vegetables including zucchini, yellow squash, eggplant, onion, and purple and orange cauliflower.  It was garnished with crispy garlic and fresh herbs. It was a nice light, vegetable and rice-based dish, but was a little too much on the oily and salty side.

I also ordered a side of the Sauteed Wild Mushrooms served with olive oil croutons, garlic, and parsley. It was as good as a simple wild mushroom dish could get.

I should also mention that we ordered a fantastic 2009 Nebbiolo Blend from Italy - Proprieta Sperino "Uvaggio." This was a big hit with the table.

For dessert, I went with a the Cherry Blossom Sorbet. It was served in a huge container that was enough sorbet to feed several tables! It tasted like it had been made in house and had a nice cherry flavor to it.

At the end of the meal, our server brought a plate of three chocolates for the four of us. When my coworker asked why there were only three, I remarked that they probably weren't vegan. It would have been nice for him to have said whether they were vegan or not when he brought them out.

All in all, it was a nice dinner. I think the best part of the entire experience was really the atmosphere. The design and decor of the restaurant alone make it worth visiting. But, in the end, for one of the restaurants listed as one of the top ten restaurants in DC in the Washingtonian, I was a bit underwhelmed. The food was great and actually very reasonably priced with my entree only being $22 and the sides $10 so I really can't complain about that and the wine list was pretty spectacular. I guess I was just expecting an overall fantastic experience, which I didn't get. I was mostly disappointed in the lack of attention to my vegan diet as the server seemed to disregard me whenever he could. And the fact that they didn't even bring out some type of vegan gelee as they usually do when they bring non-vegan chocolates at the end of the meal was a bit disappointing.  I might be back someday if they add new vegan options, but definitely not anytime soon. And with all the great upscale options in DC, this one doesn't even make the list.

Blue Duck Tavern
1201 24th Street NW
Washington, DC 20037
(202) 419-6755

Blue Duck Tavern on Urbanspoon


  1. Huh. That's a shame. We had a wonderful experience there a couple months ago. Food and service were wonderful. Perhaps it's "just that guy?" No excuse, of course. :)

    So what would be some of your picks for an upscale meal? Often seems we have plenty of options, just not nicer options.

  2. There are so many places!! See all of my reviews under the Restaurant Reviews tab. Places like Cityzen and Rogue 24 especially with respect to how they treat their vegan diners bring shame to Blue Duck Tavern. The food was good, but there are better options in DC.

  3. I hate when you go to a supposedly high-end place like Blue Duck, and you're offered an entree of veggies and rice. Where's the protein to make it a complete dish? Chefs at these restaurants should have good training in putting a complete meal together even for vegans, and should have responded with something much more inspired especially since you called ahead. And why are we always stuck with sorbet for dessert?