I have lived right around the corner from the Duck Inn since I moved to Bridgeport. I was already a fan of Chef Kevin from way back years ago when I went to the Four Seasons restaurant to try his fine dining dog (it was amazing.) Later, I got a chance to work at a restaurant next to his in River North, and was always bringing the good vibes whether just saying hello or coming in for a big to-go order.
Proof that I am one of the lazy ones: it took me almost half a year to walk through the hardscrabble to see the boathouse under construction at Park 571 on Eleanor Street (who am I kidding?! I drove.) That same day Raven Beauty and I actually did walk over from my place on Archer Avenue. I had read about the Duck Inn connection to Chef’s family, and I was wicked excited to have my first meal there.
All that being said, nothing prepared me for how awesome The Duck Inn actually is. This is a badass team operating with passion across the board. The space is beautiful, the bar room up front was The Gem Bar, and where we had dinner in back was the old operator’s residence. Terraced patio space, with tables on a couple different levels, tempted in the leafy backyard, but it was too hot that day.
I asked our server the kind of dumbass question about the chefs’ counter seats that made me embarressed for having asked it as soon as the words left my lips. “Do uhhhh people who are newbies to restaurant industry get whiplash sitting that close to the kitchen?” Our server took my unfunny and sweatily awkward question and flipped it into a bow-wrapped short story version of how the restaurant came to be. We were in good hands.
The food was hit out of the park and I am procrastinating because I don’t know where to begin. The new hotdog is so much better than the fine dining dog: it’s like Kevin Hickey supercharged a Superdawg by pimping out each and every ingredient. All the touches, from the fresh baked poppyseed bun to the chutney of tomato and mustard, superb, and the meaty juicy chef-crafted dog itself makes even our vaunted Vienna Beef taste like a weenie.
For an entree the Portuguese style clams and chourico was beyond – beurre blanc richness with citrus and acid for balance. I remember strawberries like 3 ways for dessert, and I am trying not to think about the chocolate peanut butter beignet. And I would be remiss to point out that on a super hot dog day of summah, Chef was there saying hello to guests in the dining room before heading back to work with the team in the kitchen.
I’m going to quote yelp on this one (a first?) and say woohah as good as it gets!