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Restaurant review: Duck Inn is definition of winning supper club


I haven’t been a big fan of supper clubs, at least not until now.

Our recent dinner at the Duck Inn has shown me the light.

The inn is cute with open ceilings, wood paneling and a beautiful floor-to-ceiling flagstone fireplace complete with a duck taxidermy display.

In this main room we were lucky enough to be seated in front of the lit fireplace, and its warmth was welcoming on a chilly Friday evening. Although the tables are a bit crowded, and we were jostled once or twice, there was a feeling of friendly camaraderie. Surprisingly, it never got overly loud.

The restaurant has two additional dining areas: the bar, with hybrid booths that looked cool and swanky, and the original dining room, which is quaint and homey.

The best thing was Duck Inn’s menu. The steaks and fish fry were almost lost among the duck, pork and pasta choices. Everything sounded good. Specials that night were rainbow trout almondine ($24), slow-roasted goose ($29.50) and a 24-ounce porterhouse ($35).

Our server brought out our drinks, an assortment of crackers and two different cheese spreads as we waited for our meals. My drink was on the “specials” menu, and it was a nice twist on a supper club staple: a vanilla whiskey Old Fashioned ($7). Helene opted for a glass of red wine ($8), and she noted each dish on the “specials” menu had a suggested wine pairing.

Duck Inn’s beer list has a good offering of microbrews along with the usual domestic and imported beers but, alas, there were no tap beers.

We started with the crab-stuffed mushrooms ($9.95) as an appetizer. The fresh mushrooms were covered in a creamy cheese sauce which was very nice, although the dish could have been warmer.

Nikki was intrigued by one of the nightly specials: the slow-roasted goose ($29.50).

She quickly discovered why it was listed as a seasonal favorite. The simple herb-roasted preparation highlighted the goose’s rich flavor and resulted in a leg and thigh quarter with crispy skin and very tender meat that fell right off the bone. It was served with tangy, braised red cabbage, buttery spaetzle dumplings and a side of apple brandy sauce.

For her entree, Jennifer ordered the hunter-style pork tenderloin ($21).

In case you’re wondering (as we were), Duck Inn’s hunter’s sauce is a reduction of mushrooms, onions and pepper. The sauce was drizzled over three good-sized portions of pork tenderloin and spaetzle to make the slightly-crisp dumplings tender and delicious.

Dinners include soup or salad, and Jennifer selected a salad with house-made Greek vinaigrette. The dressing was divine with hints of garlic, lemon juice, olive oil and tiny crumbles of feta cheese.

I thought one of us should rate the traditional fish fry, so I stepped up and tried the deep-fried cod ($11.95).

The dish came with a choice of fries or potato pancakes, applesauce and coleslaw. The thick pancakes were crispy and filling, deliciously topped with the applesauce. The coleslaw was vinaigrette-based, which is my preferred choice over mayonnaise. The fish was crisp and tasty but a tad bland. The Duck Inn’s excellent tartar sauce made up for that, though.

Helene chose a pasta dish: the vegetable bouquetiere ($14.45) with a light sauce of white wine, olive oil, garlic, basil and oregano. She was disappointed, however, with the ratio of pasta to veggies.

The dish included broccoli, cauliflower, strips of carrots and red bell peppers and onions all cooked perfectly al dente, but she kept hunting for more under the mound of fettuccine. The sauce was nice and light, and that really allowed the vegetable flavors to carry the taste.

On the server’s recommendation, Helene also ordered the French onion soup ($3 with the meal). It was absolutely perfect—well-seasoned and flavorful with tasty bread cubes and mild melted cheese.

To say that we were stuffed after our meals would be an understatement. But we discovered the Duck Inn has an in-house pastry chef, so we allowed our exuberant server to present a tray of the night’s dessert offerings for our viewing.

Although the carrot cake and chocolate lava cake looked good, we decided to split two slices of pie. The French silk was light and fluffy with a true chocolatey flavor. The peanut butter pie was a bit more dense, and it was so rich I had to bring it home to eat a bite at a time. It was definitely a pie in need of a group effort.

The Four Dishes—Nikki Bolka, Helene Ramsdell, Jennifer Spangler and Beth Webb—review regional restaurants for The Gazette.