I admit it. I love the name of the restaurant I am about to review: Duck Duck Goat. I assume it is a play on that childhood classic, duck duck goose. And, yes, it is a restaurant associated with Little Goat as well as Girl and Goat of Stephanie Izard fame. Izard is a Chicago native, winner of Top Chef and more, and is supported by business partners, the Boka Group. We have wanted to go to one of her restaurants for forever - indeed, since we were fans of her when she was on Top Chef. And the day we went, we lucked in by getting a same day reservation.
Duck Duck Goat is the newest of Izard's restaurants, around the corner from the others and is located on Fulton Market. The restaurant focuses on chinese -- and the waiter said emphatically - American - food. As the waiter said, also emphatically, Stephanie returned from her trip to China and. . .
Walking in, for a very early reservation (as I said, we made it the day we ate there and thus the timing was out of our control: 4:45 pm), the restaurant seemed huge, and there was a modest sized group of people waiting to focus on diners, standing around at the reservation stand. I arrived a bit before my partner and was escorted through a huge, dare I say cavernous, site to the smallish "lounge" where there were around 8 seats and (eventually) a bar tender. I ordered a drink (and had to pay for it there rather than add it to our bill; also, I was not made aware that the cocktail list in the "lounge" was more limited than the full restaurant cocktail list). The drink -- a Luck & Profit - came in a coup and was a delightfully odd shade of white. I hung out for a few moments -- and then my partner arrived and we were off to dine.
The setting was clearly meant to lean toward China, with a lot of red in the decoration. The large space -- which started out empty od diners and ended up packed - was divided in some useful ways to ensure that people could actually hear one another. (Have I repeated endlessly comments on the six? I was just not expecting it to be so big. Enough already!)
The subsection in which we dined had tables near one another -- and lots of mirrors. (Side note: the waitress for the table beside us might have stood not between their table and ours -- where there was little room -- but between the table she was servicing and the next one, where there was much more room. A quibble I know). It was a likable and upbeat kind of setting. The table settings are chopsticks and that Asian kind of soup spoon, and the plates etc are (I think) of the restaurant's own design. I did make a fool of myself thinking the bowl for things to be eaten from was a tea cup. It was not.
Our service was quite good, with a waiter who both knew the food and had opinions about it. With my drink already made, my partner asked for a rose -- known as "odd ducks" on the wine menu - and chose in consultation with our waiter. There was several options by the glass. And she did enjoy the one she got.
We then worked our way through the menu -- which was fun. Eventually we chose one "dim sum," and three "dishes -- boiled dumplings (dim sum), an eggplant dish, snap noodles with beef, and moo shu pork.
The conversation with our waiter initially focused on noodles. We inquired about two types of noodles: silver needle noodles and slap noodles, eventually deciding to dine on slap noodles with beef. Silver needle noodles, it turns out are also called rat tail noodles due to their appearance. That is all I can remember about silver needle noodles, whereas slap noodles are pulled and slapped against the table upon which one is making them. I can say this: the mouthfeel (and yes, I am reading a book about mouthfeel which is making me obsessed with this part of dining) is wonderful -- a kind of chewy-ness that is truly worth trying. And the beef was a kind of ragu. Tasty.
In the case of the slap noodles with beef, and also the dumplings and eggplant, there was an extraordinarily nice use of peppers; fresno peppers on both dumplings and noodles, pickled banana pepper slices in the eggplant, and sweet red peppers in (I think) the moo she pork. (How did I get from noodles to peppers? Stream of consciousness.)
The eggplant was sichuan, but not terrifically spicy -- large bits, and lovely fried shallots that gave a crunch to the dish, with the vinegar-y banana peppers giving some acid. There were very small matchstick like radish bits on it as well, though these did not stand out much. As the name of the dish indicated, there was goat sausage in it -- a kind of ground goat which was not very in your face, but did impart a flavorful meatiness to the overall sense of the eggplant. Overall very nice.
And the moo she pork: I had little as I was enormously full by the time it arrived, even though we brought home left overs of everything except the dumplings. (Perhaps we ought not believe waiters who say order 4 things for 2 people? ) In any case, the pancakes were very thin and thus delightful. The one thing that put me off (though I think I was unduly negative) was the attempt by waiter and others to describe these as fajitas or tacos as though no one on the planet had ever heard of the pancakes and pork entree they were serving. No, they are not tacos or fajitas. Yes, many cultures have a flat bread like phenomenon that you wrap around various bits of food.
And, to go back to the beginning: I was a tiny bit dubious about the dumplings when we ordered them but I was wrong. They were delightful -- especially the freshness of the topping.
For the first time ever, I think, I had dessert at a Chinese restaurant. It was terrific -- called mango coconut cloud, it included a sponge cake with mango, kiwi and dragon fruit. I give it an A+ And, it was followed by two almond cookies. My partner ordered a lovely chrysanthemum tea -- which both looked lovely, was served in a delightful way, and tasted. . . floral.
One minor negative thing: I had a choking fit toward the end of the meal. I felt trapped in a corner and other than my partner everyone ignored me, including those sitting extremely close to me and the wait staff. I lived, and it is not something that is all that unusual for me, but in the middle of my panic I did wonder if I was going to be ignored while I died. Yes, an exaggeration. But still.
One minor positive thing: I love the containers left over chinese food comes in -- and these were particularly dandy. The bag we carried our leftovers to the condo in was also stamped with 2 ducks and a goat. It made me smile. And, I still have it.
Overall: I would love to go back and am really looking forward to the leftovers tonight (which is not the same night, dear reader, as you encounter these rumination!)