DINING REVIEW #7: THE BLACK DUCK

The last time I ate at West Cape May’s Black Duck restaurant was at least 10 years ago. On that visit everything was fine, but not exactly impressive, and as such, I haven’t been back since. That is until this June when my brother decided he wanted to give it another try for his birthday. So, 9 of us went to dinner there on a recent Sunday night and discovered that things there had changed, and much for the better.

It is still the same chef and owner but his menu has become much more refined and his skills, while never poor, are much improved. The décor has also been freshened up and is now cleaner and more modern in appearance. We were lucky enough to be seated at a table in the rear of the restaurant in what is almost a private room surrounded by windows overlooking the garden, though all the rooms seemed enjoyable enough as we walked through. Our server was fun, knowledgeable, and also helped to make the evening a delight.

I began my meal with an order of the Southwestern Duck Confit & Goat Cheese Egg Roll which was delicious, the contents of which blended wonderfully with the sweetness provided by the surrounding ginger-plum coulis and apple plum chutney. Others at the table ordered the Blue Crab Spring Rolls which were also a treat and the Shrimp Toast with Cucumber Crab Salad, which was really the best of the 3. I think we all agreed that we could have eaten those Shrimp Toasts all day long. My parents split the Pu Pu Platter which included all of the above plus ribs and dumplings and were quite happy with everything on that very large plate as well.

Everyone thoroughly enjoyed their entrees, and the chef was very accommodating to those who have special dietary restrictions, ensuring they were able to enjoy a night out just as much as the rest of us. Patrick ordered the Honey Roast Half Duck and has declared duck one of his favorite proteins as a result. I was quite impressed with how well cooked it was, with the fat being rendered down perfectly and the meat being perfectly seasoned. The apple smoked bacon and sweet potato risotto were both nice compliments as well.

I was especially impressed with my selection however. The salmon served with lobster risotto was easily one of my favorite meals of the year. Every element was cooked flawlessly, with the salmon itself being particularly impressive. It was just the lightest bit crispy on the outside, yet so soft on the inside it practically melted in my mouth. Blended with the excellent risotto and red wine syrup each bite was exquisite, even managing to outshine the lobster, which for my tastes is no small feat.

By the end of that we were all stuffed to capacity, but had to share a dessert so we could sing “Happy Birthday”. We opted for a blueberry crumble and it was an excellent choice, deliciously fresh and light. This meal wound up being another highlight in a year that has so far been full of them, and it has sent The Black Duck straight into my Top 3 area restaurants. The next time you are in or near West Cape May, make sure to find the time to dine here, it is a truly delicious experience.

GRADE: A+

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