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  • Reservations Recommended

    Restaurant Review ~ Blue Duck Tavern / Park Hyatt Hotel, 24th & M Sts., NW

    Anyone savvy in the local food scene knows that eating out has become an obsession! To feed that, countless new restaurants of every imaginable cuisine — even Uyghur <https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Uyghurs> — have opened up locally. But you can’t take away a long-term reputation for serving some of the best of the best. And that’s where Blue Duck Tavern comes in. Over the years it has been home to some leading chefs, and their kitchen puts out flawless food.

    That explains why the restaurant has been listed among Washington’s top 100 during the past several years. Its snappy décor is just one element of its draw. The dining area is divided into small sections, adding an air of intimacy. Yet it feels communal, and its open and eye-catching kitchen offers patrons a look into the chefs’ work that puts out top-notch fare. After all, it was awarded a Michelin Star in 2017 and 2018.

    Plus, warm-weather seating means heading to the outdoor patio. There, umbrella-covered tables welcome guests, and the brick wall that encircles the seating area keeps it private from passersby on the adjacent sidewalk

    But the food is the big draw. Executive chef Troy Knapp was hired a little over a year ago. He brings with him a passion for simple, fresh-sourced and seasonal ingredients that he uses to shape his menus. Not only has Knapp been passionate about cooking from his early age, he is also a certified sommelier with the Court of Master Sommeliers. That means patrons who love great food paired with the right vintages will hit a home-run eating at the Blue Duck.

    Starting with breakfast, what might pique one’s appetite? Numerous choice include short rib hash with a sunny-side up egg; a BDT Benedict with slow roasted pork, ham, and Swiss cheese; and a jumbo lump crab with scrambled egg whites, tomato, and baby spinach, to name just a few ways to start the day brightly.

    photo--courtesy Blue Duck Tavern

    photo–courtesy Blue Duck Tavern

    The lunch menu pulls out all the culinary stops. In fact, each dish, from appetizers through all the ducky entrées, merit acclaim. If you had to pick a favorite, would it be the spring pea salad garnished with pea sprouts and with a honey-almond butter or the aged beef tartare with cured farm egg and garlic crisps as starters? Main courses include braised beef ribs on a grain salad, bone marrow with a tempting garlic overtones, or the duck breast with rhubarb-ginger marinade. And the vegetable main course is a hefty head of cauliflower roasted and served with tahini and golden raisins.

    Dinners (and check out the wine and the cocktail menus) wrap up the day with a staggering assortment of tempting dishes, from the oysters on the half shell appetizers to the braised beef rib, the crispy octopus, or the Moulard duck breast, all with appropriate sides.

    Outrageous desserts? Coconut tapioca with carrot cake and pineapple allspice sorbet and the Guanaja chocolate tart with duck fat caramel sauce could satisfy any sweet tooth. The BDT’s apple pie is its classic and a variation of this dessert has been around for years and years. It is that good! However, in warm not-apple weather, the pastry chef has created a luscious cherry tart with a scoop of vanilla ice cream perched on top.

    Another pull of this restaurant: people-watching. While you may not spot your favorite Senator or overhear political shenanigans, the well-heeled crowds who breakfast, lunch, and/or dine at the Blue Duck Tavern look very, very VIP-ish. It’s that kind of place.

    Blue Duck Tavern / breakfast, lunch, & and dinner daily; brunch Sat. & Sun., 11am-2:30pm. (202) 419-6755; email, blueduck.tavern@hyatt.com.

    Alexandra Greeley is a food writer, editor, and restaurant reviewer. She has authored books on Asian and Mexican cuisines published by Simon & Schuster, Doubleday, and Macmillan. Other credits include restaurant reviews and food articles for national and regional publications, as well as former editor of the Vegetarian Times and former food editor/writer for the South China Morning Post in Hong Kong. Click here to visit her website.