Writer Heather Hamilton feeds her love of duck at London's Monsieur Le Duck
A welcoming bistro-like exterior is easy to find on the Clerkenwell Road, just a 10-minute stroll from Farringdon Station.
We paid a visit to Monsieur Le Duck on a Sunday afternoon for lunch. Monsieur Le Duck is a restaurant with a difference, specialising in all things Gascony and in particular - duck. They do make a few non-duck dishes including baked cheese, and moules marinieres as well as a vegetarian dish. But the main item on the menu is obviously, duck!
We started with a couple of alcoholic starters in the shape of a spice and stormy rum and chilli based cocktail for me, and a hibiscus and gin cocktail for my husband. My drink came in a tall glass with a sprig of mint and slice of lime, and his in a champagne coupe beautifully pink with a delicate flower on the surface. Both were delicious and something we hadn’t tried before. The spice and stormy was sweet with the rum and sugar, and sour with the bitters and ginger ale. It left a warm glow from the chilli at the back of your mouth.
We ordered Le Grand Jeu (The Big Game) and a couple of sides – deep-fried cauliflower and truffle fries and a 500ml carafe of merlot to wash it down with, we’d already received a carafe of water. Service was efficient and friendly, both our waiter and barman were pleasant and chatty.
When the food arrived, our waiter recommended an order to eat the duck in. The two breasts cooked in different ways – one char grilled and the other pan-fried first, then the burger and finally the confit leg. He was right; this order made the most of the heat in each of the different duck portions. The duck breast was succulent and juicy with the char-grilled version having an additional smoky flavour. The burger was so lovely, with the duck being fatty meat it lends itself well to being made into a burger, much better than chicken or turkey. The patty was served pink and again was juicy and came with a prune mayo which was fruity and savoury at the same time.
Finally the confit leg, delicious with super crispy skin and soft melt in the mouth meat. The truffle fries were delicious, nice and crisp with that earthy mushroom-like flavour. The deep-fried cauliflower, which we hadn’t come across before, drew some concerns as we thought it might be greasy. But our worries were completely unfounded, and the cauliflower was soft and nutty.
As we didn’t have a starter, we treated ourselves to a dessert and another couple of drinks to go with them. Tarte aux Pommes paired with a La Marionette cocktail, and dark chocolate mousse, with duck fat, washed Armagnac.
The cocktail contained Armagnac, sparkling wine and cranberry juice and matched the sweet apples and clotted cream.
The dark chocolate mousse came with a mound of whipped cream on top and was dark and bitter as only chocolate can be. The duck washed Armagnac is Armagnac ‘washed with duck fat and then frozen, the duck fat floats to the top and freezes, and the brandy is poured off through a hole. The verdict was that the duck fat gave the drink a savoury duck aroma which certainly added to the taste of the Armagnac.
Monsieur Le Duck offers an Armagnac club, so if you’d like to learn more about this speciality brandy, I’m sure Monsieur Le Duck could help you in a very enjoyable way.
All in all, we had a good meal in pleasant relaxed surroundings, the cooking of the duck was superb, and the service was friendly and unobtrusive, just as we like. At £130 including a 12.5% service charge, we thought reasonable for London. Monsieur Le Duck is undoubtedly something different and if you want duck, well worth a visit.
Monsieur Le Duck, 27 Clerkenwell Road, London
Review by Heather Hamilton