Most of the time we have an idea of what to expect from a restaurant. Of course, the spectrum of success is in the details, so even though we have an idea, we never pass judgment without a firsthand experience. Sometimes though, we get blindsided.
For whatever reason, our preconceived notion of what we expected from The Duck Inn was dead wrong, and we couldn't be happier.
Let’s backtrack by saying we didn’t expect The Duck Inn to be bad. But when we hear Bridgeport, pre-prohibition era gastro-tavern, Rockit Ranch Productions (Sunda, Rockit, Underground, etc.), and both a front lounge and back dining area, our first thought is more upscale bar that’s a cool place to hang than great food - that would be an incorrect characterization. We could bore you with a plethora of adjectives to describe a Duck Inn meal, but why force you to Google thesauraus.com when all you need to know is it tastes delicious.
Tucked away on the corner of Eleanor and Loomis just off the Chicago River, the first thing you’ll notice about The Duck Inn is it’s a pretty good sized cocktail lounge with a big bar. You can hang out over some drinks, or dabble in snacks like fried cheese curds with bloody mary ketchup, duck and foie tamale, and a duck fat dog. And we wouldn’t judge if that was the extent of your trip, but you’d be missing out by not hitting up the smaller main dining room in back.
The more proper dining area is set through double doors, with wood furnishings and exposed brick walls, one of which contains a large duck mural. Despite the size, it’s a lively and loud room with a well dressed crowd who is clearly there to dine. The menu is a bit limited, so don’t expect endless pages of options, but the things they do, they do well. It's all highlighted by a rotisserie duck for two, which is duck at its finest. The meat isn't too fatty, and served with potatoes and a winter citrus salad accompanied by tangerines, it's a complete meal. Almost everything we’ve eaten outside of the duck delivers too. There’s a reasonable $55 tasting option, but you can also order any of those items individually if you prefer. Just make sure you make it here and order something.
And as if all of that isn’t good enough, The Duck Inn has an awesome f*cking patio out back. Add it to the list of great places to hang during the summer.
Man do we love surprises.
Count us in any time there's a salad with an egg yolk to pop over the top.
Prawns over a base of risotto with uni butter, eucalyptus, and sea beans. Like al dente pasta, there’s a fine line between proper and bad risotto, and we think it’s one of those things restaurants often mess up. This is one of the better versions we’ve had.
This entree is alright, but it's interesting more than anything else. The mushrooms are good, and the polenta is nice and creamy. As you can see, there's popcorn in this dish, and overall it's got a unique touch.
A tender piece of short rib with whipped potatoes, melted leeks, and an interesting but not too sweet pomegranate sauce.
Beautifully plated duck on a wood carving board. It’s served with a good mix of breast, leg, and thigh meat. Alongside a bit of greens, potatoes, and tangerine sauce, it’s a complete meal ideal for two, or a good piece to share with more.
Dessert is the only thing we could skip without worry. As the more than once self proclaimed king of all things bread pudding, this dessert was fine, but it left us grasping for a bit more.