Thursday, March 22, 2007

Just Ducky at Blue Duck

Rachel: A few weeks ago Bobby and Giada were kind enough to let me tag along to the Edward Scissorhands ballet performance at the Kennedy Center.

Giada: We just adore the ballet. Almost as much as we like telling people that we go to the ballet.

Rachel: As if that wasn't enough, they decided that the evening was not complete until we'd had drinks and appetizers at Blue Duck. They do spoil me so.

Giada: It's Bobby. He loves to spoil.

Rachel: Since it was bitterly cold, we left the Kennedy Center in hopes of finding a cab, but our plan was foiled by the fact that there was not a single cab waiting outside. Not a single one! What is wrong with you, taxicabs?!

Giada: It was at this point that Bobby informed us that he was moving back to Texas. Which is too bad, but maybe he will visit.

Rachel: Not realizing that I would be trekking across the frozen tundra that was New Hampshire Avenue, I had been foolish enough to prefer looking pretty over being warm, and was dressed in a skirt and very precarious heels. Giada was kind enough to give me her arm so I did not end up on my butt, because who wants to finish up a lovely evening with a trip to the hospital to mend a broken bone? And I am pretty clumsy...

Giada: Agreed. She's a complete klutz.


Rachel: We sat in the lounge area, which I think can only be described as quirky. It is decorated with an odd mix of multi-level hardwood floors, random glass partitions separating various sections of the lounge, and stainless steel and wooden tables complete with drawers. Around the tables are swivel armchairs, which were one of my favorite parts about the place.

Giada: Rachel's description is right on, but it somehow never seemed "quirky" to me. I've always thought of it as a fairly elegant, but comfortable lounge.

Rachel: The strangest part of the decor was surely the seating areas to our left, which were wooden tables and high-backed Amish-style benches. The benches looked extremely uncomfortable, but the really odd part was that both tables were surrounded by glass walls, making them like private rooms where everyone could stare at you. Definitely wouldn't want to sit there.

Giada: Ok, I'll agree -- that is a pretty weird aspect.

Rachel's Decor Rating: 7.5 out of 10 (an extra point for all the conversation pieces in the room)
Giada's Decor Rating: 8.5 out of 10


Rachel: Bobby was determined to sample all of the desserts on the menu, but Giada vetoed that idea since he hadn't had dinner yet. She is determined not to let him exist on fruit rollups, candy, and ice cream.

Giada: I am not joking, for all the wonderful food the man eats, he gets most excited about things marketed to 12-year-olds.

Rachel: I tried lobbying on his behalf, but being a little sister apparently holds no sway.

Giada: And this is something you're figuring out now? You did all of my ironing through high school, and you're just learning who's the boss?

Rachel: Anyway, I was more concerned with the cocktail menu, since I'm not much for desserts and am always looking to see if someone can top the Maker's Mark and pomegranate drink I had a while back at Restaurant Eve. On this night, I settled on the Pear and Elderflower martini, but the moment I saw Bobby's Raspberry Martini (or Raspberrytini as he liked to call it) I knew I had chosen wrong. I generally try to avoid very sweet drinks, and the Pear Martini was certainly that. The sweetness was not overwhelming, but still a bit much for my taste.

Giada: I had a strawberry flavored martini, and while also very, very good (I'm a fan of the sweet drinks), Bobby's was better.

Rachel: Since I am a good girl who always eats my dinner before dessert, I ordered the turkey club sandwich with french fries. The portion size was larger than I expected, and good as far as club sandwiches are concerned. My only complaint was that the tomatoes were sliced a bit thick, so that when I bit into it the toast hurt the roof of my mouth. You'll be glad to know that taking out one of the tomato slices solved that problem just fine.

Giada: While not stealing fries, I enjoyed the Artichoke Bisque. I'm actually not a huge artichoke fan, but soup was called for on such a cold night. And did I make the right call. The bisque was smooth and creamy, and wonderfully flavored.

Rachel: Halfway through the sandwich I got to order the Raspberry Martini that I had been eyeing, and it was even better than I thought it would be. Fresh muddled raspberries gave it a bit of a tart flavor instead of the usual sweetness of Raspberry vodka, which is the standard with such drinks and should be changed. Immediately. The fresh raspberry garnish in lieu of the usual marachino cherry was also a nice touch. On the whole, the drink reminded me of a spiked Fresh Samantha's Raspberry Dream, i.e., perfection.

Giada: It may seem like we're beating this to death, but the drink was REALLY good.

Rachel: Bobby and I both ate a satisfactory amount of our meals to order dessert, although Giada did steal a fair amount of my fries. We decided to share desserts and ordered the Apple Pie and Ice Cream. The pie was not merely a piece of pie but an entire individual-size pie and was fantastic. The apples were perfectly tender and there was exactly the right amount of sugar and cinnamon, but the true standout was the presentation of the ice cream. It came in a short pitcher with three scoops and a giant wooden spoon (which I immediately claimed as my dessert spoon), along with a smaller pitcher of homemade hot fudge sauce on the side.

Giada: I actually found the presentation of the ice cream to be a little much, because the pitcher was deep enough that getting out the scoops was somewhat of a pain. But really, sort of a minor detail.

Rachel: I think Giada would agree that the hot fudge sauce was not quite as good as our grandmother makes, but she has the market cornered on hot fudge sauce so it's not really fair to compare.

Giada: Yeah, the sauce was good, but not great.

Rachel's Food Rating: 8.5 out of 10
Giada's Food Rating: 8.5 out of 10


Rachel: Our service that evening was outstanding. Our server was very friendly, prompt with all of our requests, and even brought us a new candle when she noticed Giada stealing one from the table next to us after ours went out.

Giada: What can I say? I'm a fan of ambiance. And it wasn't like people were sitting at the other table.

Rachel: My only problem was not with the server herself, but with the fact that there was a tall table in the middle of the room that served as a dumping station for dirty plates until they were brought to the kitchen. I might not have noticed if we hadn't been seated fairly close to it, but I am not a fan of being seated next to others' dirty plates.

Giada: Agreed on all counts. The server was seriously outstanding. Friendly but not chummy, intelligent, patient, prompt ... she was the total package. And yeah, Blue Duck is too nice to have dirty plates station so close to patrons.

Rachel's Service Rating: 9.5 out of 10
Giada's Service Rating: 10 out of 10!!


Blue Duck is the perfect place for a quiet evening of drinks, as it's the type of place where friends can chat and not have to compete with loud music or drunk barflies. It's also a great romantic spot for a date, little sister in tow or otherwise.

Blue Duck
Park Hyatt Washington Hotel
1201 24th Street, NW
Washington, DC

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