2013 Fall Dining Guide
By Tom Sietsema
October 10, 2013
How does the crab cake at Blue Duck Tavern keep itself together? Shaped from what appears to be only sweet seafood and fresh chives, and cooked just to take on a golden veneer, the dish is a marvel of simplicity and good taste. I feel the same way about the American restaurant's pulled-pork sandwich, paprika-red meat paved with pickled okra and completed with airy pork rinds on its plate.
Side dishes are impressive enough to take center stage, and desserts riff on childhood memories. I'm thinking of toasted farro tossed with tiny peas, slivered almonds and lemon oil, and a glamorous s'more composed of chocolate mousse, bruleed bananas and soft meringue piping.
Shaker-style furniture and handsome quilts create a restful backdrop to the assured, farm-to-table cooking of the Texas-born, French-trained Sebastien Archambault. If you're searching for a place to suit a meat-and-potatoes type and a food lover, here's the happy medium.
Blue Duck's service remains some of the most polished in the city. When a server figures I might be done with a course, she doesn't ask, "Are you finished working on that?" but rather, "Would you like to move on?"
2012 Fall Dining Guide
By Tom Sietsema
Washington Post Magazine
Sunday, Oct. 21, 2012
Blue Duck Tavern is the Kate Upton of Washington restaurants, a natural beauty that beckons with clean lines, streams of light, and a front-and-center kitchen that has been turning out terrific American food since the arrival of chef Sebastien Archambault from Los Angeles last winter. Before every upstart started bragging about its friendship with farmers, this hotel venue was introducing diners to the producers behind the ingredients. True, they might not all be from right next door, but crisp sweetbreads from Pennsylvania and sweet scallops from Maine are certainly alluring when they’re paired, respectively, with boozy peaches and soft peppers, and pickled mushrooms and tomato relish: James Beard channeling Martha Stewart. From the wood-fired oven come split bones with garlicky marrow for slathering on toasted bread. From the pastry kitchen comes one of the best apple pies you’ll see outside an Amish farm stand. The staff reads its guests like books; before you think you might need an extra plate or more wine, a smiling someone appears at your side. If I were a restaurateur looking for staff, I’d start my poaching here.