There’s no need to cry foul or get your feathers ruffled during these brisk, chilly winter months as chefs all around town have embraced duck and are offering a multitude of uniquely divine variations of the beloved bird. From classic Peking duck to nachos swimming with tender bits of the dark-meat bird, there is no shortage of mouthwatering options to keep duck lovers elated and satisfied for months to come.
Zea Rotisserie and Grill, Several locations, visit www.zearestaurants.com
For those who may be a tad intimidated by duck or fearful of its “gamey” flavor, Zea’s duck empanadas are a great first foray into this fabulous foul. Roasted duck bits, cheese, sautéed onions and peppers are melded into a creamy concoction, then surrounded by a delicate pastry and fried to golden brown. Drizzled with sour cream and served with a sweet and spicy ancho dipping sauce, these pouches of pleasure are sure to convert skeptics after just one bite.
Sun Ray Grill 1051 Annunciation St., 566-002; 619 Pink St., Metairie, 837-0055
Everyday nachos are raised to another level when a mound of tasty roasted duck sits atop tortilla chips, roasted corn, black beans, lettuce, tomato, cheese and sour cream. A drizzle of cool ranch dressing and flavorsome ancho chile sauce with a hint of honey make this one delish duck dish. If you haven’t reached your fill of duck, the guava-glazed, half roasted duck with sweet mashed potatoes is sure to satisfy.
Bayona 430 Rue Dauphine, 525-4455
One of the best and most unique duck dishes in town, chef Susan Spicer’s original duck, cashew butter and jelly sandwich, has wowed diners for years and continues to do so. Although her menu often changes, this is a definite fixture and a must experience for every duck lover! Moist and tender pieces of smoked duck are brilliantly juxtaposed with house-made cashew peanut butter and sweet and savory pepper jelly to create this melodic masterpiece.
Austin ‘s 5101 W. Esplanade Ave., Metairie, 888-5533
This Metairie favorite offers two duck options, and while both are tempting, it’s the ridiculously delicious Cherry Duck that keeps foul fans coming back for more. Boneless duck breast is grilled to create a distinct charred flavor, then sliced to reveal a moist, juicy center surrounded by crispy skin. The finishing touch is a divine yet simply prepared cherry glaze made of cherries, cherry juice, sugar and demiglace, that takes this dish from good to glorious.
Café Sbisa 1011 Decatur St., 522-5565
One of the most unique preparations of duck is found at chef Glen Hogh’s latest venture, Café Sbisa. Hogh starts by curing and smoking top-quality duck breasts, which he skillfully cooks to a perfectly pink, medium temperature. The tender, juice-filled, marvelously flavored meat is thinly sliced and artfully fanned on the plate. It is accompanied by a savory fig mustard, baby greens and croustades.
Café Giovanni 117 Decatur St., 529-2154
Chef Duke LoCicero is a duck fan, which is evident in his exceptional preparations of both of his duck dishes. His Duck Classico features half an expertly roasted duck with super crispy skin and a moist middle, basking in a sweet marsala and roasted-garlic glaze. While his luscious sliced duck breast is perfectly married with a gloriously rich, robust and supple foie gras demi-glace.
Five Happiness 3605 S Carrollton Ave., 482-3935
While the classic Peking duck certainly won’t disappoint, don’t miss the signature Chinese baked duck! An ultra-crisp half duck is bursting with a bevy of mouthwatering flavors of classic Chinese five-spice— namely ginger and star anise cloves—on the outside, while dripping with flavorful juices on the inside. This is pure duck heaven!
Marigny Brasserie 640 Frenchmen St., 945-4472
This casual yet elegant eatery offers two magnificent duck choices, the first being an appetizer of succulent duck confit served with sweet roasted beets, spicy arugula, goat cheese and a savory beet vinaigrette. The entrée consists of pomegranate-marinated seared duck breast topped with a scrumptious fennel and pomegranate glaze and served with couscous and baby carrots.
Café Adelaide 300 Poydras St., 595-3305
Chef Chris Lusk’s Tea Smoked Duck “BLT” is a scrumptious and novel take on the classic BLT that starts with Luzianne tea–smoked duck bacon, layered with crisp, fried green tomatoes, baby arugula and finished off with a creamy, sumptuous Evangeline goat cheese aioli. Or try the decadent Cracklin’ Crusted Muscovy Duck with corn bread pudding, crispy collard greens and smoky local Bocage honey.
Ralph ‘s on the Park 900 City Park Ave., 488-1000
What can possibly be more palate pleasing than a tender, plump duck breast seared to perfection, then drizzled with an ethereal black currant pan sherry vinaigrette? Well, how about one lavishly topped with a delectable piece of foie gras as created by executive chef Haley Bitterman. This gorgeous and expertly executed combination of flavors and textures will have you begging for more!
Martinique Bistro 5908 Magazine St., 891-8495
These tender, moist slices of Steen’s Cane Syrup–cured duck breast virtually melt in your mouth. Topped with an understated yet flavorful satsuma glaze, the sweetness from the cane syrup is perfectly balanced with the slight tartness of the satsumas creating one harmonious dish. Served alongside are heavenly stone-ground goat cheese grits.
Bistro at Maison de Ville 727 Rue Toulouse, 528-9206
Duck lovers will rejoice in chef Greg Picolo’s flawlessly executed duck feast, which includes mouthwatering duck cassoulet, succulent confit of duck and leeks, a juicy roasted duck breast accented by cannellini beans, herb-scented wild rice and, the pièce de résistance, a beautifully cooked helping of seared foie gras. Go duck wild and start with his ambrosial confit of duck, smoked Gouda and arugula strudel finished with a heavenly blueberry gastrique.