Sunday, March 08, 2009

The Shaved Duck

Ratings Guide:
Half handshake, half chest-bump hug – 5 stars
Chest bump – 4 stars
Fist bump – 3 stars
High five – 2 stars
Handshake – 1 star
Manly ass slap – ½ star
Fone and fone – 0 stars

Restaurant: The Shaved Duck
Location: 2900 Virginia

The Shaved Duck recently retooled their menu to focus on their American (primarily BBQ) offerings. I have no idea what the menu was before, but from what I gather it was more upscale European and American combo offerings. People seemed to like it, from everything I’ve read, so I’m not sure why they changed things. But in the end, I’m glad they did, because it seems like everything on the menu is now smoked.

Amy and I went there on a Saturday night at 8 p.m. with Brandon, Lisa, Gina, and Bob. The wait was just over 45 minutes. This really isn’t that big of a surprise when you factor in the fact that the place has a really small dining room (about 10 tables), and two tables up by the bar. So if you go there between 6:30 and 8:30 on the weekend, expect to wait. The question is, was it worth the wait?

Let’s start with the name, The Shaved Duck. Where does it come from and what does it mean? The answer is that I have no idea. But it sounds like a strip club, or a porn movie, or a cool new sex move I haven’t learned about yet. And I think that’s what really intrigued me about the place. I didn’t care what kind of food it had, or how many menus they’ve retooled, with a name like Shaved Duck I was going to check it out.

The atmosphere is great. Very small and intimate (translation: crowded and loud), with a diverse crowd that seems very local. Our waitress was very friendly and attentive, but Lisa would like it noted that the hostess (or waitress or bartender, I can’t remember which) was very rude when they first arrived. Apparently Lisa was trying to get out of the way (again, large crowd crammed in a very small bar/waiting area) and allegedly backed into a corner that also happened to be near a table or something, and the waitress/hostess/bartender came up and said something to the extent of an “I don’t think so, honey.” While I’m butchering the story, the point is Lisa wasn’t happy about it. And she’ll hold a grudge like nobody’s business, so it would be in the best interest of The Shaved Duck to issue an apology.

We started things off by ordering some apps for the table, including the Duck Fat Frites, Duck Confit Flatbread, and some dish that had smoked pulled pork served over an apple. I’ll start with the Frites. After we’d decided where we were going for dinner I went and checked out the menu online and was nearly touching myself over the fact that they had Duck Fat Frites. When we got to Shaved Duck I couldn’t stop talking about them. I loved the duck fat fries at Hot Doug’s (in Chicago, of course), and I was thinking these would be just as good. And I think I made everyone else believe they’d be that good as well. But instead they’re just plain terrible. I think the problem is they’re truly Frites, which is French for really fucking skinny potato strings. Nobody at the table liked them, and I lost a ton of credibility because of it. And it’s not like I’m working with a bunch of cred to begin with, so I really wasn’t happy. Luckily the other apps more than compensated. The flatbread was really, really good. The bread was a little thinner and crispier than I’m used to, but it didn’t affect the dish as a whole. The duck was sparse, which made it taste that much better. You really savored and appreciated the few bites of it there were. And the sauce they had on top of it really added to the dish. I was really happy about it. And the smoked pork on the apple was amazing. The apple was just whatever, but the pork is what made it. Just perfect. We decided that anytime you smoke something, it takes it to another lever. And this pork was no exception.

After the apps I got my meal started with one of the four chilis on the menu. And I couldn’t help but get the Smoked Tomato & Smoked Peppers dish. To my surprise it literally was only tomatoes and peppers. No beans. No meat. No nothing. Just tomatoes and peppers. But they were smoked. And they were delicious. It honestly was one of the best chilis I’ve ever had. Now, whether or not you really consider it chili is another story. And I’m not in the mood to debate it here.

For dinner I went with the Loaded Baked Potato. Now, it may not sound like much, but here is how it read on the menu: “Couple hours smoked, four hours in the pit, loaded with pulled pork & white cheddar.” Sounded like the kind of thing I couldn’t pass up. I also got a side of the mac and cheese, which came highly recommended by the waitress. The potato was huge, which I guess makes sense because it is an entrée. And it was smoked, so I was pretty sure there’s no way this thing could go wrong. And of course, I was wrong. It was really dry, and I was expecting the potato to be cooked alone, and then the pork and cheese loaded up on top before it came out to the table. But there really wasn’t that much pork or cheese, and it felt like it was all cooked together for four hours. The cheese was hard and crusty. I didn’t finish the whole thing, if that tells you anything, and I needed a ton of the homemade BBQ sauce (which was good) to finish what I did. And I know I’m not crazy, because Brandon also ordered it and he had the exact same review. In fact, I stole my review from him. But the mac and cheese more than made up for it. Vermont cheddar and cream. Just divine (I can’t believe I just wrote that either). Not too cheesy, not too creamy, just perfect. I demand everyone who goes here get it.

Other bites of food that I stole from others at the table were the Jalapeno Cream Corn (amazing), pulled pork sandwich (just OK), and Baked Beans (really good). But the best thing I ate the entire meal was the cornbread. Lisa ordered it as part of her meal and it was too die for. Cooked and served in a skillet, soft, warm, and great butter smeared all over it. I think I could make a meal out of the chili, mac and cheese, and cornbread. Lisa also said the Duck was really good, so I’ll take her word for it.

And then there was dessert. Supposedly handmade by one of the cook’s moms. The gooey butter cake brownie was the tits. And the apple crisp was worth the calories as well. The peanut butter pie was actually too rich, but then again, being too rich is something I rarely complain about.

And when the bill came, it was $60 per couple. Read that again. That includes all the food we had, and all the drinks. We actually checked the bill because we couldn’t believe it. I was so happy I tipped the waitress $20 (which forced everyone else to do the same thing, which I’m sure they were really happy about). But again, $80 for Amy and I. You can’t beat that for good food.

And there you have it. A lot of stuff is smoked. Smoked stuff is delicious (usually). The cornbread and mac and cheese will make you finish in your pants (as will the chili, but that’s only if you’re into that sort of thing, which some people aren’t, but everyone is into cornbread and mac and cheese). And don’t eff with Lisa.

Fist bump with a manly ass slap. I was waffling on the rating, and wanted to give it just a little more, but the baked potato really hurt The Shaved Duck. But, just to be clear, I love eating Shaved Duck. I could eat it every day. I can’t wait until the next time I get to eat Shaved Duck.


At 8:22 AM, Anonymous Lisa said...

Nice review. And, just to update. Once you guys left, we had one more drink at the bar where the hostess almost completely redeemed herself. Just thought I'd share.


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