A notch above standard pub grub!
You know that saying…..”Great minds think alike?” We were organising our regular catch-up with my wife’s parents, and they suggested ‘The Duck Inn Pub & Kitchen’, wow! I too had TDIP&K on my list of restaurants to try! For me it was the promise of a Sunday roast on Sundays, and the fact that they specialise in duck which got my attention!
On this Sunday arvo as soon as we walked in to the pub (located on a quiet street in Chippendale), the first impression was how warm and homely the venue was!
Studying their menu, one thing was evident…….
For the name sake of the Inn, I ordered the Duck Schnitzel ($28.00); my wife ordered the Braised Beef Cheek ($30.00), while my in-laws ordered the House made pasta with duck bolognese – $28 (the second of two duck dishes on the menu), and the Crispy Skin Salmon ($30.00).
**Comment: For the details of the Sunday roast, ask your server.
And as our orders went to the kitchen, a large party arrived (more than a dozen people) and the atmosphere picked up from there (the lounge-y music played second fiddle then). This empty dining room shot was taken just before the group arrived.
Taking in the atmosphere, the Pub had an old-school vibe about it – with faux bookshelf wallpaper, and the chairs reminded me of furniture from the 80s, but it was comfy and added to the old-school charm.
When our food arrived, all eyes went to my wife’s beef cheek dish!
…As it was one huge cube of meat! But keeping the re-telling of this tale in chronological order, I must tell of my Duck schnitzel experience first….
Before it arrived, I was speculating with my wife whether or not she thought that the Schnitty would actually be duck meat? Or would it just be a regular chicken or pork schnitzel? As it was called a Duck Schnitzel, but was it duck by name due to the name of the pub? Or was it duck by name, due to the ingredient that it was?
Well, just looking at it, you can’t tell as it was all battered and fried. I have to admit, at this point I was dubious as it was quite a large piece of schnitzel, and would a restaurant really give you such a large serving of duck meat?
Cutting into it, it had the dark pink colour of duck meat, but putting it into my mouth it first tasted of chicken, then later of pork. And to the point when I had finished my half and swapped it with my wife, I was still 65% convinced that it was pork, not duck. But having a closer study of the fine bones and the colour, my wife’s verdict was that it was duck meat! Although she had to admit, based on taste alone it didn’t taste like duck. Our conclusion was that crumbing and frying duck meat was probably not the best way to showcase a premium protein like duck.
But after swapping for my wife’s Braised Beef Cheek, all thoughts of duck, or chicken or pork had left my mind. Oh my goodness! How good was the beef cheek!? Just pushing down with a standard dining knife, the utensil cut through the meat like a hot knife through butter! I’ve never tasted such tender beef before, it had a subtle taste of wine jus, there were melty collagen veins, and the stand-out was how large the serving was! Having half each, we were both satisfied that we had enough.
My in-laws had a similar experience to us, my father-in-law had the Duck pasta, and his comment was also that he couldn’t really tell if his protein was actually duck or not, as it was a mince. While they were both very pleased with their Salmon dish.
And why Duck Inn Pub & Kitchen was a notch above your standard pub food? It was due to their attempts to play around with unique pairings with their accompanying sides.
Along side my Duck Schnitzel was what looked like ketchup sauce, but dipping a fork into it, it was ketchup but plum sauce had been mixed into it, as duck and plums are a perfect match! And the starchy element to my dish were western dumplings i.e. cheese mixed into balls of flour, mixed in with the peas.
My wife’s unique side was a bed of green cous cous which had hints of spinach flavour? We thinks? And there were strips of fried onion draped on-top of the cheek. And I’m sure all the other dishes on the menu contained equally unique side combinations (we have to admit we didn’t take in all the menu items and descriptions when we were making our order).
Our end verdict? 4.5 From 5.0 Stars (2.5 from 3 for Food (although the duck didn’t live up to our expectation, but everything else was special and playful!); 0.5 from 0.5 for Service (the staff member who waited on us was super-attentive, checking on us throughout the meal); 0.5 from 0.5 for Atmosphere (the venue was old, that 70-80s old but it had a very welcoming warm vibe to it); and 1 from 1 for Value for Money (Most pub meals are around the $25 – $35 mark these days, but here I got a big piece of duck for $28, and in our past experiences we’ve received much less for $30 than the huge piece of beef cheek my wife was served up at TDIP&K!)).
In the end, we didn’t try the Sunday roast, and the duck wasn’t the star, although they were the two early drawcards for us. However all the other dishes were a stand-out! If you haven’t tried the Duck Inn Pub & Kitchen before, I’d definitely recommend it, it’s more Modern Australian than your standard Pub grub. Everything we tried today had a complex flavour to them, flavours which were new to our tastebuds, so we spent much of the meal tasting and re-tasting things, trying to work out what elements were in their unique concoctions. If someone asked us what memorable restaurant have we dined at recently? The Duck Inn Pub & Kitchen would be near the top of that list!
Here is what we *actually* had:
Duck schnitzel w/ spatzle, peas & cherry ketchup
Braised beef cheek w/ parsley polenta, crispy shallots & horseradish
Crispy skin ocean trout w/ cauliflower, raisins, kipfler potato & Baharat
House made pasta w/duck bolognese, confit yolk & parmesan
**Comment: Shows that we know nothing! “You know nothing John Snow!” (Said in a Wildling accent).
The Duck Inn Pub & Kitchen- Sunday 21 July (4.5 Stars)
PH: (02) 9319 4415
74 Rose Street, Chippendale
Tues-Sat: 11am – 11pm
Sun: 12noon – 10pm