How exciting, another new (somewhat local) BYOB with famed food critic Craig LaBan’s stamp of approval! As soon as we read the review on The Blue Duck we made reservations (highly recommended and easily accomplished online) for an upcoming Friday night with friends Barb and Brad.
But our plans came to a screeching halt because Mr. Hartman was stuck in a major traffic jam on his way home from work. When he finally did get home, he had no intention of getting back in a car and driving for any length of time, so we just went local in Langhorne.
Two weeks later we attempted again, and made sure to make the reservations days in advance…
The Blue Duck is a bright little 40-seat restaurant set into an anonymous strip mall in Northeast Philly. The decor is pretty basic with white subway tile, a kitchen counter, and a long, wood community table up front beside the entrance. It succeeds with creative updates to such comfort food favorites as “Quack & Cheese,” burgers ground with pork roll, and more ambitious dishes that don’t necessarily all include duck. But throw your diet out the window because most offerings are not lo-cal. Treadmill here I come…
It’s a BYOB, so a good craft beer or a hearty red wine are great choices to pair with the richness of it’s updated comfort food. Many intriguing specialties include chorizo mac; General Tso’s wings (and tacos); duck fries; cauliflower soup; deconstructed French onion soup; fried tri-color cauliflower; wild boar meatloaf; sweet potato gnocchi; scallops with barley salad; and Mason jar cheesecake. Or even something as refined as Moroccan-spiced cobia atop sunchoke risotto ringed by a light tomato broth. And how about Wild Boar Meatloaf wrapped in bacon?
A partial look at the menu.
Brad having a chuckle over something.
Opened in the middle of a tiny strip mall in September, 2014, The Blue Duck is a locally-owned and locally-operated New American eatery in Northeast Philadelphia, where co-owners Joe Callahan, Kris Serviss and their staff prepare fresh ingredients daily to provide a unique and comforting dining experience to every person alive.
An order of the infamous Blue Duck Fries.
Blue Duck Fries: A house favorite, they are hand-cut fries tossed in duck fat, smoked Gouda cheese sauce, shredded duck confit and scallions. We placed an order to share between the four of us, and while we wiped the plate clean, I was slightly disappointed that the fries were not more “crispy.”
Their luscious Spring Onion Soup topped with grated cheddar.
Microgreens top Russ’s Everything-Spiced Duck entree.
Lynn’s Red Pepper Tagliatelle with asparagus and lump crab meat.
Russ started with a bowl of their Spring Onion Soup with cheddar cheese, brioche croutons (which he declined) and chili oil. For his entree, drum roll please, he chose the Eveything-Spiced Duck Breast, what a shocker! It came with roasted fingerling potatoes, brussels sprouts, and a whipped boursin cheese.
I had it all planned ahead of time to order the Pan-Seared Scallops, but at the last minute changed my mind and opted for the Red Pepper Tagliatelle with ramp pesto, asparagus and lump crab meat, loved it!
Barb enjoyed her turkey patty burger with bacon and avocado.
Close up of the House Grind Burger topped with your choice of cheese for Brad.
Our dining guests both ordered burgers. Barb selected the S.F.Y., a ground turkey patty with avocado, bacon, and cheddar on a brioche roll with habanero mayo. While hubby Brad, who adores burgers, (kid you not, he once said that if he ever had to choose a last meal, it would be a big, fat juicy burger) got the House Grind Burger made up of a homemade beef patty, lettuce, tomato, red onion and choice of cheese on a brioche roll slathered with a garlic mayo.
Does The Blue Duck still need to unruffle some feathers? Maybe a few. Glaring lights and a deafening noise level didn’t add any sophistication to our dining experience. Russ noted a few tables of all women and commented whenever that’s the case, loud raucous conversations are a by-product. Should I be offended? Probably, but it does seem to hold a kernel of truth… Once the crowd started thinning out, communication was much more pleasant.
Quack, quack, will we be back? Not sure this will be a must-do-again destination given the distance from our house, but I would recommend it if you’re going to be in the vicinity. The food is definitely top-notch!
The Blue Duck also offers brunch every Sunday from 10 a.m. – 3 p.m., highlighted by homemade Chicken & Waffles and their Duck Benedict.