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“not your typical hotel restaurant” 5 of 5 bubbles
Review of Blue Duck Tavern

Blue Duck Tavern
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Ranked #10 of 3,189 Restaurants in Washington DC
Certificate of Excellence
Price range: $40 - $50
Cuisines: American
More restaurant details
Restaurant details
Good for: Large groups, Romantic, Bar scene, Local cuisine, Business meetings, Special occasions
Dining options: Late Night, Dinner, Breakfast, Brunch, Lunch, Free Wifi, Full Bar, Highchairs Available, Outdoor Seating, Parking Available, Private Dining, Reservations, Seating, Serves Alcohol, Valet Parking, Waitstaff, Wheelchair Accessible
Dining style: Casual Elegant
Cross street: 24 & M Streets NW
Transit: Foggy Bottom Metro Station - Orange and Blue Lines Dupont Circle Metro Station - Red Line
Description: Blue Duck Tavern, a contemporary neighborhood restaurant, invites its guests to gather and celebrate in good taste with a menu focusing on the freshest ingredients available from local purveyors and artisans. The menu notes every farm where the main ingredient for the dish was raised before its journey to the table. Dishes are genuine, time-honored and traditional -- slow roasting in wood embers, braising, preserving and smoking techniques bring the true flavors of America's great, simple and wholesome foods to the Blue Duck Tavern. The restaurant has an elegant residential feel through the open staff pantry and kitchen, wood-burning oven and the showpiece Molteni range.
bethesda, md
Level Contributor
446 reviews
290 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 107 helpful votes
“not your typical hotel restaurant”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 31, 2007

Wanted a fancy but not stuffy dinner with my husband and our best friends visiting from San Francisco. This turned out to be a terrific place. We went after work, had a drink in the lounge and then moved on to a very fun, creative and tasty dinner. We were seated next to the kitchen which provided visual entertainment. The restaurant wasn't loud and we were able to enjoy the conversation without straining our ears, but also laugh without feeling as if we were distrubing fellow diners. Tables were spaced far enough away so we had some privacy.

Service was terrific and well spaced. Food was delicious and a lot of it. This isn't your typical hotel restaurant - much much better and the servings are huge without turning you off. You won't leave hungry and you'll be able to share with your friends!!

Definitely a place I'd go back to - we had a bottle of wine, each had appetizer and entree, one side and one dessert between the 4 of us and with tax and tip it came to $100/each. Pricier than a quick bite, but a great deal for a nice,fancy dinner!

2 Thank tikidream
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
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United States
Level Contributor
189 reviews
44 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 213 helpful votes
“Fun, fantastic, and just creative enough”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 3, 2007

Seeing the scathing review below, I just had to post. This is one of my favorite restaurants in the DC area. The service is excellent, if a bit casual, the food is delightful, fresh, simple, and perfectly executed. The tea menu is the only of its kind in the city. Try the ice cream-- amazing! I have eaten there perhaps 5-6 times and have always been delighted. My only complaint is it being difficult to get a reservation!

2 Thank trientalis
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
Manassas, VA
Level Contributor
202 reviews
81 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 693 helpful votes
“Excellent Food”
5 of 5 bubbles Reviewed May 3, 2007

I had read several good reviews in The Washington Post, Washingtonian Magazine and Bon Appetit Magazine about The Blue Duck Tavern and was looking forward to trying it for a long time.


It is located on the corner of 23rd and M Streets, NW (a little difficult to find only because there is no sign and the lettering on the door is almost imperceptible until you are right in front of it). We went on a Wednesday evening at just before 5 pm. The inside bar and outside bar are both open, they do not seat for dinner until 5:30 pm. This is a really nice part of town and very safe to walk around in the evenings. We had no trouble finding street parking on a weeknight/evening.


I felt the prices were in line with what you received. The portions were large and you could definitely do well by splitting an entrée and an appetizer.

The Bar/Lounge:

The inside bar is beautifully done with nice seating along the windows. We decided to sit in the outside bar/lounge area since it was a beautiful evening. While it is on a noisy street corner, the fountain in the corner of the lounge drowns out most of the street noise making it a pleasant experience. The furniture outside is nice with large tables and folding chairs with umbrellas.

The menu for the lounge area is relatively small; it's about 2 pages of wine, beer and drinks and one page of food. There were no real appetizer-type things on the menu except for the BDT Fries and Pot of Rabbit, which is something between a pate and a mousse. It's very rich and filling, even though it's a small portion. It comes with 3 small toasts, so be sure to ask for extra toasts when you order it. We did not have a reservation for dinner, but they were able to accommodate us when we went inside at 5:30.

Serving Staff/Hostesses:

The staff at this restaurant is on the formal/stiff side. They are all very pleasant, attentive and helpful, just cold and stiff. We had no problems with our orders, with special requests or with finding someone to help if we had a question or request. They were always quick to remove empty dishes and refill water and ice tea glasses.


The bathrooms are outside the restaurant, sort of in the office building and can be a little hard to find without explicit directions, but are beautiful inside. Each stall is it's own little bathroom with a sink and very clean.


The restaurant area has a mixed array of seating. We were in the area with a long row of small tables for 2. The aisle side has a chair and the window side has one long bench. I didn't find it uncomfortable and I'm picky about seating (and had been sitting in an uncomfortable hotel conference room chair all day prior to coming to this restaurant).

One wall area has handmade quilts framed on the wall. Everything is modern with clean lines and not cluttered but not sterile, either. It's not overly feminine or masculine and is appropriate for a business meeting, a date or meeting with friends.


The menu is not large and all of the choices are on the menu (no specials). We had the Duck Ham Salad (the duck ham was like proscuitto - you would not know the difference) and the Spring Pea Soup with Lobster Salad (which was a bowl of green pea soup -- not split pea soup -- with a lump of lobster salad -- lobster meat mixed with a mayo-type dressing -- and 2 morels in the middle). The soup was very tasty and it was a very large portion, enough for 2 to share.

We also ordered the Roasted Duck Breast and the Shank of Lamb. Both prepared and seasoned perfectly. Again, very large portions, each entree more than enough for 2 people at $23 and $29 each. For a side dish, we ordered the BDT Fries, which are fried in duck fat. I had read about this in the magazine and wanted to try them. They are $8 and worth every penny. They taste just like regular fries with just the right amount of salt and a hint of herb. They are not greasy; they are just very light and crisp.


This was without a doubt one of the best things about BDT. Many times when you go to a restaurant (and even a very good restaurant) the desserts are just eh. But I found the choices and the desserts themselves to be outstanding. I am generally a tea drinker and it was nice to see a nice selection of teas on the menu. The teas come in a large glass pot with a smaller pot of loose leaves that they insert at the table for steeping. It is a generous portion for (I think) $8. We also had the hot chocolate, also $8. It comes in a very large pot and I want to say it was about 4 cups. It was magnificent. Made with probably half and half and rich chocolate with a hint of vanilla, cinnamon and probably rum or bourbon. Very delicate hints of flavor behind the chocolate and just a magnificent way to end a meal. We also ordered the Flaming Bourbon Chocolate Cake. The cake is a regular devil's food cake made to order (it's small but enough for 2 people and only takes a few minutes to cook) and they bring it out and pour a shot of bourbon over it and light it. It takes about 45 seconds to burn out, but it's fun and tastes divine. You really don't taste the bourbon, it's really just a rich chocolate cake served very warm.

5 Thank VaBelle35
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.
California Desert, California
Level Contributor
24 reviews
6 restaurant reviews
common_n_restaurant_reviews_1bd8 94 helpful votes
“What a night...”
2 of 5 bubbles Reviewed August 15, 2006

Formerly Melrose, a 20-year D.C. institution, the Blue Duck Tavern was supposed to provide a welcomed social evening. The interior cavernous design, though, makes any meaningful conversation impossible - sharp contrast to Melrose days. Forgetting that the server spilled our friend's martini all over him while we chatted on uncomfortable seating (hard to negotiate, low to ground, chairs don't move, table has underpinning hardware that gave an Ouch or two), we were eager to sample the much-awaited menu. Appetizers receive a good report for those of us who had the heirloom tomatoes and baked clams (yummy!). Our waiter, somewhat imperious and unhelpful with descriptions of dishes we asked about, told us after 1.5 hrs. waiting that the kitchen had misplaced our order. It became a very long evening to say the least. When dishes began to appear, our friends' orders arrived first. The duck was not as described on the menu, the short rib (not ribs as menu written) was mostly fat and both of their dishes were cold. [It was frankly very unappetizing to even see it on his side of the table.] My sea scallops were by contrast quite wonderful and seasoned nicely. My mate's halibut was quite good along with the leeks and potatoes we ordered as side dishes. Importantly our meals were warm (not cold as our friends') and more than mere acceptable - we enjoyed ours. At this restaurant, in spite of its remarks about sharing meals, etc., it would have been very difficult tactically to do this as the tables were small while the dishes were size and shapes that couldn't all fit in the center along with beverages. When asked, we reported the unsatisfactory experience with entrees from 1/2 of the table. They sent others to inquire about the specifics making it an uncomfortable time now more than 2 hours into our time there. They apologized and encouraged us to have dessert. We studied the menu carefully and I asked questions about the "cream cheese buttermilk cake." The waiter raved about it. A friend and I both ordered it assuming it would be cake. It took a long time again to receive our desserts and when we did, we were shocked to see slices of Cheesecake!
I don't order cheesecake and this was not "cake" by my definition at least so I politely commented to the waiter that they might consider rewriting their menu because it's misleading. It should say "buttermilk cheesecake" or "cheesecake infused with buttermilk essence!" I'm sure by this time they thought we were being picky but it wasn't true! It was very disappointing for some combination of our party of 4 throughout the evening. By the time the check came (yes, there was a check, albeit reduced by some items), we had been there 3.5 hrs! The din of noise, the stressful meal, the long delays, the challenging wait staff, etc. contributed to the headache I still have today (and no, I didn't have wine so don't think I'm whining!). This may become a great dining experience someday, but that's surely some distance off at the magnitude of improvement needed from our experiences. What a night!
[note: there wasn't a category to rate it "Tolerable, with many problems" or I would have selected it. I hate to rate it "terrible" since some items at least were quite good. Taken all in all, I think I'm being generous and it probably deserved "terrible" for that particular table, that night.]
And, be careful if you visit the restrooms -- the modern bauhaus/tavern [yes, what a combination!] has a circuitous pathway to the restrooms with dark lighting and hard-to-see steps without any markings. Had it not been for a staff member escorting me there in person, I'm sure I would have stumbled; even with her pointing the steps out, they were still hard/surprising to see. I'd recommend giving up some of the 'style' stuff here and get practical -- nobody needs to fall on concrete steps during an expensive night out! Add some lighting or get a safety consultant in to advise on how to mark your steps! Don't take anyone who's hard of hearing and has compromised mobility or vision -- at least not yet.

4 Thank ScribelifeSFO
This review is the subjective opinion of a TripAdvisor member and not of TripAdvisor LLC.

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