Saturday, November 15, 2008

Blue Duck Tavern

The husband and I had been reading about Blue Duck Tavern (24th and M) for awhile and hearing great things about the cuisine. Before even eating at the restaurant I loved their philosophy of using fresh and local ingredients. (As I'm a 'wannabe foodie' I'm a bit obsessed with the local food movement...more on that later!) We knew nothing about whether or not Blue Duck would accommodate my dietary needs, but I figured that simply due to the fact that they use such natural and fresh ingredients, there would be something I could eat. And fortunately we were right!

This summer the husband and I decided to experience Blue Duck cuisine first hand and we took his parents and sister for a birthday celebration. The decor of Blue Duck is very unique. There are wooden rocking chairs in the lobby and there's a rustic American feel. Blue Duck is attached to the Hyatt, but you never notice or realize it while you're in the restaurant. The kitchen is totally open to the restaurant so you can watch the chef in action...that always makes me feel safer about my food because they have to be clean if people are watching! We sat at a huge wooden table (at times it was hard to hear each other, so I would prefer a booth) and started examining the menu.

I had mentioned my celiacs when I made the reservations and the hostess I spoke with assured me that it shouldn't be a problem. Once we arrived they already had documented my allergy and my waiter immediately told me to pick exactly what I wanted and he would ask the chef. The waiter was very knowledgeable about the ingredients, but he always double checked with the chef which made me feel safer. (Sometimes I get concerned when a waiter acts overconfident and doesn't want to talk to the chef because he insists that he knows everything.)

Not only did the waiter check with the chef about the items I wanted, but he also asked the chef whether or not there was gluten in the selections of my family members. This was awesome because one of the things I miss as a cealic is being able to share bites of food with the people I'm with! There were very few things I could not have on the menu. I believe there was only one entree that I could not have or that couldn't be modified in some way to accommodate me.

So what did I get? The menu changes all the time because they use fresh ingredients. I ordered lamb that was unbelievable. It was so tender and the sauce was delicious. I could have it totally as is. They didn't have to modify it at all. I believe the lamb I ordered this summer was different from what's currently on the online menu so you'll always want to check with the chef about their current items. The best news was that pretty much all of the sides were gluten free, including the grits and mashed potatoes! We also shared a baby green salad, white asparagus and a pate.

Blue Duck was the perfect venue to celebrate with family and friends because the meal was very much family style. We passed sides and appetizers around the table and I could participate in the culinary sharing. When people ask me what food I miss the most since being diagnosed as a celiac, I tell them that it's not the food, it's the experiences. Wedding receptions and birthday parties where you have to watch everyone else eat together are difficult and even a little lonely. Fortunately, I have wonderful family and friends that are always looking out for me and finding ways to make me feel included. At Blue Duck, I felt a part of the festivities! I could even share homemade peanut butter ice cream for dessert.

Overall, the food at Blue Duck is amazing. They are committed to fresh and simple ingredients, which is a perfect combination for celiac customers. The waiter did not pretend to know everything about celiacs, which I actually appreciated because he checked on everything. When going to Blue Duke (which I high recommend) you definitely want to make reservations in advance.

Blue Duck Tavern: 24 & M Streets, Northwest
Washington, D.C.

1 comment:

SHall said...

Yummy! Blue Duck Tavern is amazing. I went there for a friend's 30th birthday, and I think it was one of the best meals I've ever had in DC. Glad you can enjoy it too.