100 Best Restaurants 2010: Blue Duck Tavern
No. 25: Blue Duck Tavern
Reviewed By Todd Kliman, Cynthia Hacinli, Ann Limpert, Kate Nerenberg, Rina Rapuano
Comments () | Published January 1, 2010
100 Best Restaurants (2011) 100 Best Restaurants 2012 100 Best Restaurants (2010)

Blue Duck Tavern
Address: 1201 24th St., NW, Washington, DC 20037
Phone: 202-419-6755
Neighborhood: Foggy Bottom/West End, Downtown
Cuisines: Modern, Breakfast, American
Opening Hours: Open for breakfast Monday through Friday 6:30 to 10:30. Open for lunch Monday through Friday 11:30 to 2:30. Open for dinner daily 5:30 to 10:30. Open for brunch Saturday and Sunday 11 to 2:30.
Nearby Metro Stops: Foggy Bottom-GWU, Farragut West
Price Range: Expensive
Dress: Business Attire
Noise Level: Chatty
Reservations: Recommended
Best Dishes Soft-shell crab; crispy sweetbreads; warm Swiss-chard pie; sturgeon rillettes with caviar; roasted chicken; pork weisswurst with red cabbage; short-rib hash and cinnamon-bun French toast (breakfast and brunch); house-made ice creams.
Price Details: Appetizers $8 to $18, entrées $18 to $32.

Cuisine: Perhaps nowhere is provenance made more of than at chef Brian McBride’s hearth-like hotel kitchen, where the menu lists every farm, city, or town that the main ingredients in his seasonal and regional dishes come from. Top-notch raw materials are the foundation for what might be termed upscale downscale cooking—think glazed carrots or hand-cut fries served in copper vessels and portioned to share.

Mood: The multi-room space with glass walls, slate floors, and Shaker furniture can feel austere in daylight, but it glows pleasantly after the sun sets. The restaurant has become a hot spot for power players—including the President and First Lady—and it’s not uncommon to see Secret Service agents.

Best for: Brunch (one of the best in town) or an impressive dinner, with equally impressive people-watching, for finicky out-of-towners.

Best dishes: The menu changes frequently, but standouts have included soft-shell crab; crispy sweetbreads; warm Swiss-chard pie; sturgeon rillettes with caviar; roasted chicken; pork weisswurst with red cabbage; short-rib hash and cinnamon-bun French toast (breakfast and brunch); house-made ice creams.

Insider tips: Desserts are as large and shareable as the entrées. Pacing can be a problem, but the servers are excellent and willing to help chart your courses—and maybe throw in a free glass of wine for the pleasure of doing so.

Service: ••½

Open daily for breakfast, lunch, and dinner. Expensive.

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