Duck Soup Inn
Telephone: (360) 378-4878
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Rostra rating: 3
Duck Soup is a pleasant intimate restaurant in the midst of San Juan Island. The location alone makes it a desired dining destination. Unfortunately, everything about Duck Soup from the wait staff to the wine list to the kitchen is just a little bit spacey. Our waitress Amanda said that she was suffering from “mommy brain” when she had to return to our table to reconfirm our orders (she looked to be late in her first trimester), but she was otherwise very pleasant and attentive.
The som (or whoever wrote the wine list) was in much worse shape than Amanda. The document in question attributed the Belle Pente pinot gris to Washington State when it was really from Oregon and also got the vintage wrong. Thanks be to Dionysius this was not a bad oenological omen and the wine itself turned out to be quite good. Refreshing acidity with nectarine and citrus notes led to a long and pleasant finish for a white wine. Bobby dispensed with my wine speak and simply declared “It just tastes good.” Unfortunately the second bottle was way too warm and it took Amanda’s mommy brain a bit longer than necessary to locate an ice bucket.
Scallops with sweet pea semi-fredo was the best thing we were served. The semi-fredo circlets were sweet and rich, pairing well with the scallops, which were perfectly cooked. Raw pea tendrils (as in shoots and leaves) were a nice touch and their dressing added a needed touch of acid. However, the scallops were partitioned with unadorned store bought crackers broken in half. What was up with that? It came off as a really stupid way to add a crunchy dimension that was not strictly necessary to the dish.
Brussels sprouts with ginger aioli had decent flavor but lacked acid, salt, and richness. The aioli needed a lot more ginger.
Tomato fennel soup (all entrees came with soup and salad) was too thin and the fennel too dominant. But we salvaged it with a dollop of the excellent anchovy butter served with rather mediocre bread. The house salad was much better. The unusual sweet croutons were a nice touch.
Halibut was perfectly cooked, flaky, and moist, but he rest of the dish was a mess. The fish came on a bed of mashed potatoes, which were a good effort, but why use them in a fish dish, especially with Halibut? The smear of smoked beet sauce was mainly visual, superfluous and micro-thin. The roasted onion bulbs with the tops still attached were very good, however.
The grain bowl was unimaginatively named and indifferently executed, needing heat and meat in my humble opinion. Now I realize that meat defeats the purpose of a vegetarian dish, but it was served with a soft boiled egg so it was not even vegan. You can’t be a little pregnant (just ask Amanda), so why not put some pig candy in there and make the veggies tasty? At least the kitchen could have used a fried duck egg and given the dish more yolk binding. The fried tofu, however, was quite good.
By the way, we asked our host at Wildwood Manor where we were staying during our time on San Juan Island where the name Duck Soup came from. He said that the ladies who own the restaurant originally came from Hawaii and that saying something is “duck soup” means that it “comes easy.”
I am not sure that Team Mago will return to, um whereever it was that we ate, but it was a pleasant if not very memorable experience.