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No Geese in Sight: 4 Restaurants Where Duck Reigns Supreme

by April Stamm
EDGE Media Network Contributor
Tuesday Oct 8, 2019
Peking duck at Decoy.
Peking duck at Decoy.  (Source:Decoy)

Arguably the crown jewel of the poultry world, duck in all of its unctuous decadence beckons us, especially with the chilly months approaching. With its dichotomy of luscious, juicy meat and in the best times almost impossibly crisp skin, duck begs for sweet and tart partners at the table. As fall descends, so does our search for the perfect plate of the decadent bird and here are some spots to find it.

It is impossible to talk about duck without paying homage to the Peking-style preparation. New York City has, for decades, embraced this technique and showcased its authenticity in shops devoted to the bird. Those tried and true spots never fail to satisfy, but there is a new kid in town. Relying and perfecting some of the time-honored methods of Peking-style duck preparation and service, while also turning the concept on its ear with creative accompaniments and cocktails, Decoy in the West Village is making its name in all that is duck.

Chefs Joe Ng and Ed Schoenfeld's slightly unconventional and decidedly Cantonese approach to duck involves marinating the bird from the inside out in a traditional spice mixture. They then sew each duck shut and inflate them with air. After dipping the birds in boiling water and painting them with vinegar to set in the potential crispy skin and juicy interior, the birds get a relaxing hang to air-dry before roasting.

Complicated and intense, the system works. Decoy's ducks are succulent with divinely crunchy skin. At Decoy, you get the best of both worlds next to your platter of perfect duck. Aside from the traditional pancakes and sauces to scoop and drench your bird, Decoy sends an accompaniment of pickles and fermented side dishes to elevate and balance the fatty richness of the main event. Even with all of this, the crown of the table is the oh-so-simple and oh-so-sublime shot of duck consommé that greets each guest before the bird's arrival. Rich, clear, intense and spiked with miso, that shot alone signifies all that duck was meant to be.

Clever cocktails lean toward the classics with playful interpretation, such as the Decoy Clarified Milk Punch, spicy and tart with just a touch of richness. With a menu of only about a dozen original cocktails, each feels curated and thoughtful. These libations know their place at this house of the bird.

529 ½ Hudson Street
New York, NY 10014
(212) 691-9700

It's all about beer and football at Beer Belly in L.A. (and their location in Long Beach), but the gem of their menu is its perfectly over-the-top foray into duck. No full platter of your classic Peking-style with all the accouterments or perfectly seared breast in a delicate cherry sauce here. Instead, you are treated to Death by Duck. Chef Wes Leiberher's signature duck fat fries topped with duck confit are bringing in not just the football fans but also the fans of the bird.

532 S. Western Avenue
Los Angeles, CA 90020
(213) 387-2337
(second location in Long Beach, CA)

Cozy and retro in feel, The Duck Inn in Chicago's Pilsen and Bridgeport neighborhoods does duck in spades and all in a laid back, homey (if your home were quite cool) way. Its signature roast duck takes all day to prepare, then carved thin and served over seasonal greens. It wouldn't quite be Chicago though without a nod to the hotdog. The Duck Inn Dog has got it all, a craft-made beef and duck fat dog with the perfect snap and all the toppings befitting a proper Chicago Dog.

2701 S. Eleanor
Chicago, IL
(312) 724-8811

Hailed as one of the best restaurants in Atlanta by Food and Wine, Chef Duane Nutter and team make seasonal, Southern-inspired global fair in the heart of the Atlanta Airport. One Flew South hits a lot of high notes in an unlikely locale, but one of the most talked-about dishes is its duck confit sandwich. Towering with pulled duck confit, fig and toasted peanut relish and bright slaw, this piece of edible art hits all the right notes, rich and luscious, snappy and tart, and smooth with just a bit of Southern kick.

Concourse E in the ATL Airport
(404) 816-3464

April Stamm is a lifestyle and food writer and chef based in Manhattan and Brooklyn, NY.


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