Friday, March 22, 2013

The Drunken Duck Inn: What's in a Name?

The Drunken Duck
The Duck Menu
Amuse Bouche
Cheese Souffle
Crap Cannelloni
Lamb Sweetbreads and Tongue
Cote de Boeuf
Bone Marrow
After a long absence from blogging (work has been keeping me very busy recently) I am back. And what a good way to return to the blogosphere. A trip to Cumbria last week saw me urgently flicking through pub guides and the interweb for restaurants, besides L'Enclume, which I still need to visit, the Drunken Duck had an enormous amount of followers. But it was Jay Rayner's glowing review of The Drunken Duck that sold me.

Arriving at twilight, I was immediately bawled over by the appearance of The Duck. It is up a winding, typical Lake District road, away from anything and anyone. It is one of those archetypal English Inns that just explodes with class and beauty. And, like most quintessentially English pubs, all the locals turned as we entered, glancing up and down at the newcomers to see if we belonged.

I was slightly disappointed by where we were seated, in a small, cramped section off the bar. After seeing another room that looked a lot more comfortable, rumbling fire, high backed chairs, better lighting (always important to me) I asked our waitress if there was another dining room. She said no and I left it. When dinner was over I glanced in at the other room and there were many happy diners enjoying meals in better light, with more elbow room. So take heed when you dine at The Drunken Duck and ask to be seated in the dining room that does not exist.

The food was another story. Our starters: my Lamb Sweetbreads with Lamb Tongue served with Goats Curd and Courgettes was a delicious way to get over where we were seated. My wife's Gratinated Crab Cannelloni was nice, not great, but I could see where they were going with it. The flavors were slightly muted, but it was a good effort. And the Cheese Souffle was mouthwateringly delicious. I still taste it now.

I'm afraid I cannot give an accurate account of a selection of main courses, as all four of us had the Cote de Boeuf. We decided on that instead of the dish that the restaurant is most known for, the Whole Roasted, Honey Glazed Duck because for the price £44 for two, it was just too good of a deal to pass up. Only £4 cheaper than the Duck, for some reason beef at that price sounds like a better deal than duck, even if it isn't. The Cote de Boeuf is served with Bone Marrow, French Fries and Seasonal Veg.

While I was eating the Cote de Boeuf I was finding a number of reasons not to like it; the meat was chewy, the bone marrow was not presented well, it could of been served to us in a different form other than a hunk of sloppy marrow, just pulled from the bone, the fries needed to be double or triple cooked and the reduction sauce was not reduced enough. But, if I'm being honest with myself, it was a delicious meal, and a great price. It is easy to start to compare every restaurant I visit to Michelin Starred restaurants like, Heston Blumenthal's Dinner in London, which serves the best Bone Marrow I have ever had. But that is not fair. Heston is a chef that comes along once in a generation. The Drunken Duck provides extremely good food at good prices and in an atmosphere that is simply stunning.

I do have one genuine complaint though. At the end of the meal, when I handed over my American Express card, our waitress, in a tone that I would not call pleasant said, "we don't accept American Express." There may have been a, "I'm sorry" in there somewhere but because of how she said it, like she was annoyed by all the people trying to pay with Amex, it really put me off and suddenly The Drunken Duck seemed more like a restaurant trying to make money instead of giving its patrons the payment choice they want. Does the extra 1% or 2% fee Amex charges really make a difference to your bottom line when we are spending £150 on a single meal? I don't think so.

And, it might seem silly, but for that one reason alone, I wouldn't go back to The Drunken Duck. I'll go to L'Enclume next time and earn some Amex points while eating a sensational meal.

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