Friday, March 19, 2010
Restaurant Review- The Duck & Dumpling in Raleigh
Exciting atmosphere, reminds me immediately of a red version of my beloved Fuzio. Upscale in an asetic sort of way, extraneous design edited out, warm. In this market district most restaurants sport brick walls and the concrete floors. Duck & Dumpling had the good sense to carpet the dining area and this along with the ceiling fabric sculptures, wall paper, high back upholstered banquets, help manage the noise a bit. About 27 two-tops make it the kind of manageable size place that makes me hopeful the kitchen can concentrate on crafting each dish.
Servers knowledgeable, attentive and fairly quick, but informal.
The menu reveals a creative intention with dishes that demand a try. The prices seem reasonable, and the $5 martinis prov e irresistable. I am having a pomagranite cosmo. Most tables have alcohol. That seems to be a cause and effect thing. My martini is a deep, deep red, with a properly artistic orange peel. Coulda been more cold/shaken.
Citrus vodka, orange liqueur, pom and lime juice.
We had the dumpling sampler, a house specialty. Each bite was an adventure. Don't order this to share- the $7.95 price is a bargain and you deserve your own. Now we are gettin' excited!
When the entrees arrived, they were simple and straightforward. A green curry flounder- the curry was sexual, building heat with a sweet undertone, unguent in texture. The fresh, delicate flounder perfectly pan fried. It was good, but I have actually had better. In Bangkok, on a hot, sultry night in one of the open sided elevated restaurants where the fish is killed as it is cooked, where curry is made from scratch and the cold Singha flowed. Bottle after bottle.
The other dish- yakitori pork. Beautifully cooked with a nice glaze over the fire, swimming in a delicate, simple ginger-soy reduction. On the side, maybe equal, was a ginger-sweet potato puree. Silken and perfectly flavored, with the sauce it was really, really good.
So we occasionally get a genuine culinary surprise that is exciting. This was one. Will I go back? We have already made plans to do so tommorrow! The balance I seek is exemplified in every aspect of the concept. This is worth a special trip, for you won't find better Asian food anywhere in the US- so far...
We were looking forward to our return to Duck & Dumpling the following evening. Sadly, our estimation of the restaurant went from Great to good. The pork was overcooked and over salty. There was no snap to it all. The silky sweet potato puree had gummy lumps. The duck too was over cooked. Sad, sad : (