The Mucky Duck
Thursday, May 21, 1998
"S omething for everyone" is how chef Victor Salazar describes the popular downtown spot where he has been behind the line for the last five years. Poring over the various menus, his assessment appears to be correct. Repeatedly reigning as a favorite local watering hole, the Duck quacks with both eating and entertainment options.
Is it a pub? Is it a restaurant? Is it a bar? Yes, yes and yes on all accounts. "We have a regular British clientele that comes in and they were surprised when we added the quesadilla to the menu," Chef Salazaar notes. "But after trying it, they loved it!" Given that this is a tortilla filled with diced English banger sausage, maybe it''s not quite so surprising. Introducing some of the left-of-standard menu items--such as the English pizza, made with bangers and sharp English cheddar--is something that Salazar particularly enjoys.
But traditional ''pub grub'' does indeed comprise its share of the menu. You can bet that there''s malt vinegar for the fish and chips, and that the batter for the cod is made with Newcastle ale. Cottage pie is also done in the English tradition, made with ground beef in red wine sauce, piped with a crown of duchess potatoes. Beef and beer are partnered in the beef and oyster pie, laced with Guinness stout and baked together under crisp puff pastry. Meat lovers face a heavy burden of choices, with more selections that run the gamut from a mixed grill (a smorgasbord of lamb chops, bangers, Irish bacon and New York filet) to pistachio-crusted calf liver and a full range of steaks, chops and burgers.
But, since this is coastal California, there''s the matter of seafood. Tequila scampi, Alfredo prawns, scallops meunire and calamari also compete for attention. And the choices don''t stop there--chicken fajitas, Cajun chicken and grilled pork loin could also keep you scratching your head, trying to decide. Or you could make life easier by simply disregarding all the above, opting for the signature roasted duck with plum chutney sauce and bear no regret.
No fewer than six meal-size salads (chilled scallops with snow peas and sweet-and-sour ginger vinaigrette, shredded duck with cracklings, warm broiled chicken with goat cheese, asparagus and roasted red peppers) and a full array of sandwiches (Philly cheese steak, banger sandwich, barbecue tri-tip and cheddar) also make this a lunch time dining destination for down-towners.
If it''s a late-night light bite that''s more your scene, you''ll probably gravitate more toward the seating around the indoor fire pit to observe a rousing game of darts. Or else venture to the heated outdoor patio, where another full bar keeps the place pumping on weekends, often with a DJ or live entertainment standing by, making this a happening nightlife destination.
If you''re looking for an early boost for the long night ahead, the Duck''s half-price appetizers are offered between 4:30 and 6:30pm. The range of appetizers mimics the lunch and dinner menus with the number of choices, with a couple of surprises thrown in. The chef recommends the large roasted sweet onion, presented like an open flower and finished with melted cheese, green onions and bacon, "for something different," he suggests.
Throw in a nocturnal menu for night owls that includes some breakfast-type items--like the fried egg breakfast sandwich or scrambled egg and bacon burrito--and be convinced. Through these doors, something may be found for everyone.