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Restaurant Review ~ Blue Duck Tavern* / 24th & M Sts., NW

Better than a TV cooking/restaurant show, and top notch among DC’s restaurant competitors, the Park Hyatt’s classy Blue Duck Tavern reigns. Again and again, patrons return, whether for brunch, lunch, or dinner. Yes, some chefs have come and gone. But when a new culinary star moves in, foodies should, well, dash over to BDT for a meal or two. The new chef? Adam Howard.

As locals know, BDT has consistently been ranked among the DC’s finest, and in 2017 was listed by the Washingtonian magazine on its “100 Best” restaurants. And, both this year and last it was awarded a Michelin Star.

photo--Heather Freeman Public Relations

photo–Heather Freeman Public Relations

Part of the restaurant’s appeal comes from its upscale modern décor, with the dining room cleverly divided into sections, which adds to privacy. Also appealing is its outdoor seating area, an attractive location to enjoy any of the restaurant’s meals during warm weather.

photo--Heather Freeman Public Relations

photo–Heather Freeman Public Relations

But the big draw, of course, is the food. Imagine sitting down to a meal that starts with a shaved Brussels sprouts salad sprinkled with red currants and chopped apples and dressed with a warm bacon vinaigrette? Other current starters include a roasted beet salad and a Baby Gem lettuce one with autumn fruit and a black walnut vinaigrette.

Up next, an amazing choice of entrées, from herb-roasted scallops, and a BDT cheeseburger to braised beef ribs; duck confit with shaved fennel and quince; a spice-roasted halibut; and the herb-roasted organic chicken with charred broccoli and sliced radishes. The last is a fine selected for an entrée, filled with tender meat and loads of flavor.

And then there are accompanying veggies, including candied yams, braised greens, roasted sugar pumpkin, and the hand-made vegetable pot pie.

photo--Heather Freeman Public Relations

photo–Heather Freeman Public Relations

Who, you may wonder, has assembled this cheerful menu? — the equally cheerful, newly hired chef. As it turns out, Howard is no stranger to the DC restaurant scene, having worked with José Andrés at Jaleo, with Brian Voltaggio in his Frederick, Maryland restaurant, Volt; and then as chef de cuisine at Voltaggio’s Lunchbox, Range, and Aggio. Howard has even cooked in Mumbai, India. “I have opened 16 restaurants,” he said, adding that he is happy now being in one kitchen.

photo--Heather Freeman Public Relations

photo–Heather Freeman Public Relations

Where does his food passion come from? His family. As he said, his grandparents once owned a sausage-making plant in his Alabama hometown and they lived on a big farm, where Howard spent much childhood time. And like all Southern families, Howard noted that everyone is food passionate. This food love led him to the Culinary Institute of America where he honed his cooking skills.

 

Now, as he takes over BDT’s kitchen and menu, Howard said that the fall favorite was a rabbit fricassee and then a foie mousse with brandied peaches and vanilla Johnny cakes. “I love to try many different dishes,” he said.

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

* Editor’s Note: If the name and location of this restaurant seems familiar, that could be because it was previously reviewed back in April – but then it was a different chef and a different menu.