Food

100 Best Restaurants 2009: Blue Duck Tavern

No. 42: Blue Duck Tavern

Cuisine: Rustic American cooking given an upscale gloss—nearly every farm that supplies the kitchen is named on a menu where roast chicken and apple pie share space with rillettes and roulades. Plates are meant to be passed around, as at a family dinner—one that’s about $65 a head.

Mood: The design of the hotel dining room is as severe as it gets—all glass walls and sharp angles—but everything else strives for a gather-around-the-hearth feel: Shaker quilts, Windsor benches, a row of apple pies cooling near the front door.

Best for: Dinner with meat-and-potatoes folks and adventurous palates alike; summer lunch by the fountain on the patio.

Best dishes: Smoky mackerel rillettes topped with shaved cucumber and crème fraîche and served with toasts; airy pumpkin custard with tangy pomegranate seeds; whatever terrine is on the menu, especially if it comes with foie gras pâté; saffron-scented fisherman’s stew; roasted chicken; rack of pork with apples (peaches in summer); crab cakes; macaroni and cheese; baked beans with rabbit confit; house-made ice creams, especially chocolate and strawberry.

Insider tips: Sides tend to be heavy—buttery carrots, duck-fat-fried French fries, bleu-cheesy grits. Eating at the bar here won’t get you any deals: The menu seems aimed at hotel guests willing to pay $25 for a burger and $15 for a martini.

Service:••

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

See all of 2009's 100 Best Restaurants

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Ann Limpert
Executive Food Editor/Critic

Ann Limpert joined Washingtonian in late 2003. She was previously an editorial assistant at Entertainment Weekly and a cook in New York restaurant kitchens, and she is a graduate of the Institute of Culinary Education. She lives in Logan Circle.