« Going out to dinner with Mad Men | Main | Mark Nov. 15 on your calendars »

October 28, 2008

Top 10 Great Restaurant Duck Dishes

ducktoo.jpgAs I was making up this list, I was struck by the fact that I couldn't recommend any restaurants that serve a classic duck a l'orange or duck with black cherry sauce. The duck half roasted well done and then flambeed at your table with a fruit sauce is a dish that time has passed by. (I think I last had it at Haussner's.) Still, if for no other reason than nostalgia, I wish I could have come up with one. Maybe one of you knows of a restaurant that still serves it.

What is incredibly trendy, I found when I was going through my archived reviews, is the pairing of rare duck breast with a duck leg confit.  It's a pairing that works well, and it's a great contrast of textures. If I were doing my Top 15, I would include five more examples of this very dish.

I know duck isn't as popular a subject as, say, crab cakes, so I asked my readers to come up with an alternative headline that might lure non-regulars in. The winners are Bucky  (Top 10 Foods That Came With a Bill Before They Were Served) and Zevonista (Top 10 Dishes You Don't Want to Share with Donald or Daffy).I didn't have the nerve to use either one.

Please remember that with the popularity of ever-changing seasonal menus, some of these dishes may not be on these restaurants' menus year round. So if your heart is set on one, call to make sure it's available. 

Here's my list of favorite duck dishes: ...

* Charred rare duck breast paired with duck confit at Abacrombie near the Meyerhoff

* Duck meatballs with braised cabbage, bacon, apples and Calvados sauce at the Brewer's Art in Mount Vernon

* Pan-Roasted duck breast, roasted root vegetables, speckled butter beans at Charleston in Harbor East

* Smooth but assertive duck liver pate at Clementine in Hamilton

* Roast duck quarter with a fruity pomegranate sauce at the Carlyle Club in Homewood

* Braised duck pizza at Juniors Wine Bar in Federal Hill

* Roast duck breast paired with crisp-skinned quail and a cream sauce with morels at the Kings Contrivance in Columbia

* Duck fesenjune, orange-poached with a walnut-pomegranate sauce at the Orchard Market & Cafe in Towson

* Duck breast with a fresh pear reduction at Osteria 177 in Annapolis

* Peking duck at Szechuan House (1427-29 York Road, 410-825-8181) in Timonium


(Nanine Hartzenbusch/Sun photographer)

Posted by Elizabeth Large at 4:32 AM | | Comments (32)
Categories: Top Ten Tuesdays


Thai One On in Towson used to have a brilliant Drunken Duck special that was my favorite duck dish of all time.

Elizabeth, I usually enjoy your columns. I'm pretty disgusted with this one, though, since you chose to include the absolutely inhumane foie gras at Clementine. I've never quite understood how consuming an abused animal rates as a fine eating experience. How would you like to be force fed via a tube shoved down your throat?

I have no duck comments, but I am wondering this morning about offal, the entrails and "lesser" cuts that Tony Bordain seems to so relentlessly hunt down in his travels. I grew up with a Russian grandmother so we often had chicken hearts, giblits, necks, feet, etc - it all went in the soup. She would buy cow intestines and make kishke with them so I'm kind of intrigued by the whole topic. I don't think we have a place in Baltimore for such "exotic" eats do we?

Shucks, I'm honored!

Like Daffy and Donald, I'm just not that enamored with dining on duck. I just find it too fatty.

And are restaurants still calling it "Peking Duck?" When we were in Beijing, it was "Beijing Duck."

Some of these dishes sound wonderful, though. I'm familiar with the chicken fesenjune at the Orchard Market, perhaps I'll have to try the duck version next!

I almost always order the duck confit at petit louis. They do a nice job of changing the accompanying sides to reflect the seasons.

AHHHH Foie Gras controversy! Loud noises! Yelling! AHHH!

I am huge fan of the duck leg confit at Petit Louis. I've had some fantastic duck dishes at Paolo's in Towson but they are usually specials and not on the regular menu.

Joyce, there is always menudo, at many of our local Mexican joints.

Folks, this is the first time I've posted a comment ever ,so please bear with me.My name is Winston Blick and I am chef/owner at Clementine. In response to Chessie's post, we do not serve foie gras.Foie gras is goose liver from ,as you stated, force-fed geese with a feeding tube. What I make and serve is duck liver pate.Our duck livers are from duck that are naturally raised for meat. I feel that we're being more responsible by using as much of the duck as possible.I feel that by using as much as we can of any creature we respect it more. If anyone is curious about the process of making pate, feel free to call. I'd love to here from you. Again foie gras and duck liver pate are two drastically different things.Also we're serving rabbit rillettes this week. Our rillettes are made with offal. Again I'd love to talk about it. To sum it up : Respect and know what you eat.Thanks for listening to me yammer,now back to the kichen.

Dear Chessie, Get a life! We don't tell you what you can eat, so don't you presume to tell the rest of us what we can eat; and enjoy, for that matter! Get off your soapbox and find another blog to haunt. I think that the majority of people who read this blog are members of PETA - that's People Eating Tasty Animals, and foie gras is VERY tasty!
You are right on Elizabeth, the pate at Clementine is great.

Do the duck fat fries at Salt count as a duck dish?

Love the list. I also recommend the Dim Sum duck at Jesse Wong's in Columbia on Saturday and Sunday. BTW foie gras is my most guilty pleasure, which makes it even more delicious.

Chessie - you should focus on the actual words written the next time you feel like shooting off your mouth (or fingers in this case). Nowhere in the list is foie gras even mentioned, now go away.

Winston, thank you for taking the time to clarify. You are a true mensch. I for one will be looking forward to enjoying rabbit rillettes!

Duck in general is a little too fatty for my taste. But the Hunan Manor in Columbia has an excellent Crispy Duck.

Calling Mr. McIntyre!

Do the words "offal" and "awful" come from the same root, or do they just sound like synonyms?

Please do NOT forget the duck confit pizza at Iggie's in Mt Vernon. This pizza more commonly known as the "Anatra" (duck in italian) is topped with roasted duck, asparagus, blue cheese, mozzarella, and red onions. It is by far one of my favorite applications of duck like ever.

I LOVE duck fesenjune at Orchard Market & Cafe! It's rich and exotic and...well...just plain FABulous! So glad you included it in the Top Ten, Elizabeth. Zevonista, you'll probably love this dish if you enjoy duck.

the duck pizza at junior's is ok - i've never been a huge fan of their food.

for a really great duck pizza variation go to iggie's in mt vernon - their anatra pizza has duck confit, blue cheese, asparagus, red onion, and mozzarella and its so so good!

Maybe I was there on an off day, but when I had the anatra pizza at Iggie's, I couldn't tell there was duck on there. Then again, I was a bit taken back by just how thin that crust was. Not my favourite style of pizza. I thought I liked thin crust until I went to Iggie's.

Don't much care for Matthew's Pizza, either, so I guess I'm moderate when it comes to crust. Which is appalling for a semi-professional extremist like me.

Do the words "offal" and "awful" ...

I'm sure that JM would be happy to look up things in the dictionry for everyone.

Etymology: Middle English, from of off + fall

awful = awe + full
Etymology: Middle English, from Old Norse agi; akin to Old English ege awe, Greek achos pain

So no. And put down the bong.

It's not in Baltimore, but Jule's in Ocean City has a terrific version of drunken duck (marinated three days, they say, in sake, soy, garlic and ginger).

I was wondering what makes the Peking Duck at Szechuan House the best in the Baltimore area? As I have mentioned before I really like the duck at Jesse Wongs but if Szechuan House is alot better I will give it a try. Does Szechuan House have a full bar?

There's an upstairs food court at Seoul Plaza (in the old JC Penny's at Security Square Mall) where you can sometimes get a Peking/Beijing duck to take home.

You know you have struck a nerve when you have OMG jealously guarding John McIntyre's time. (Head's up, Bucky, as LJ would say.)

I was hoping EL would explain why of all the Peking Duck in the Baltimore region she chose Szechuan House as her favorite.

You enjoy seeing me squirm, don't you? :-) EL

I don't think the Szechuan House has a bar at all. I know I have taken my own bottle of wine in the past.

I don't know who named it the best Peking Duck in Baltimore. It is mediocre at best. Keep in mind I have only had it delivered but that shouldn't affect the taste. The duck is greasy and the skin is not crisp.

They also have a nice sushi bar that has never disappointed.

Martick's used to serve good duck with cherries. (Sigh.)

I agree the Cafe Carlyle duck is good, as is Petit Louie's duck leg confit. Louie's used to serve an ever stronger cholesterol bomb, a lightly poached duck egg over something (my brain arteries are too clogged to remember what).

I'm suspicious of most places serving sliced duck breast. It's so often uniform, ringed by fat that should have been cooked out, that I believe it comes pre-packed.

The Anatra at Iggies is very good, but the duck flavor takes a back seat to the gorganzola.

Petit Louis is back to serving Cassoulet, which is another great way to serve duck confit.

The Sous Vide duck at Jack's Bistro just took the place in my book to the duck two ways from True (which is now "Fin") in Fells Point.

The duck with pomegranate sauce at Carlyle Club on University Parkway is great. It is not overly sweet or gloppy.
It is tremendous.

Link spam at 8:27 PM! (Another series of shills for alleged electric tobacco products.)

Link spam at 10:33 PM! (Another series of shills for alleged electric tobacco products.)

Link spam at 1:04 PM! (Another very uninteresting series of shills for alleged electric tobacco products.)

Post a comment

Verification (needed to reduce spam):

About this blog
Richard Gorelick was appointed The Baltimore Sun's restaurant critic in September 2010. Before joining the paper staff fulltime, he contributed freelance criticism and features articles about food to area and regional publications. Along the way, he dispatched for short-distance trucking companies, shilled for cultural non-profits, and assisted in cognitive neurology research – never the subject, always the control.

He takes restaurants seriously but not himself, and his favorite restaurant is the one you love, too.

Top Ten Tuesdays
Most Recent Comments
Baltimore Sun coverage
Restaurant news and reviews Recently reviewed
Browse photos and information of restaurants recently reviewed by The Baltimore Sun

Sign up for FREE text alerts
Get free Sun alerts sent to your mobile phone.*
Get free Baltimore Sun mobile alerts
Sign up for dining text alerts

Returning user? Update preferences.
Sign up for more Sun text alerts
*Standard message and data rates apply. Click here for Frequently Asked Questions.
  • Food & Drink newsletter
Need ideas for dinner tonight? A recommendation for the perfect red wine?'s Food & Drink newsletter is there to help.
See a sample | Sign up

Stay connected