Last we checked, Bridgeport wasn't exactly overwhelming eaters with its abundance of destination-worthy restaurants. But The Duck Inn, a new gastro-tavern from Bridgeport native Kevin Hickey (Bottlefork) and Rockit Ranch Productions (Bottlefork, Sunda, Rockit Burger Bar) is out to change that.
The original Duck Inn tavern was owned and operated by Hickey's great-grandmother; Hickey's version (located nearby) in many ways pays homage to the first, with two separate, midcentury modern-themed spaces split by French doors. The first is a lively bar area accented with handsome glass light fixtures, the second a 44-seat dining room embellished with a massive mural of a swimming duck painted from an underwater perspective.
Cocktails and rotisserie duck for two
The cocktail menu includes a surprisingly well-balanced Duck Out ($14) made with duck-fat-washed Park VS cognac, Giffard Crème de Mûre, sherry and Chinese five-spice syrup, and the robust bourbon-based Don ($14), finished with a dash of chocolate bitters.
Hickey's bar menu is packed with upmarket versions of retro favorites, like fried cheese curds ($8) paired with a hoppy mayo and perfectly acidic Bloody Mary ketchup, and a buffalo chorizo chicken thigh ($9) with piquillo pepper and blue cheese fondue. But the real standout is an eye-popping, jaw-unhinging duck-fat dog ($10), a beef-and-duck-stuffed tube steak stacked precariously with all the traditional Chicago-style trimmings (onion, tomato, relish, sport peppers, mustard and house-made pickle).
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The dining room menu is a bit more refined but still exhibits some of the playfulness of the bar offerings. Seafood fans should zero in on the spot prawns ($16) set atop risotto infused with uni butter, eucalyptus and sea beans, while the rotisserie duck for two ($58) makes good on the restaurant's name. The whole juicy bird is enveloped in a neatly crisped skin and served with duck dripping potatoes and a winter salad tossed with vibrant blood oranges and pomegranate seeds.
Cap off the meal with chocolate beignets ($9) gussied up with a roasted banana anglaise and peanut butter ice cream, just big enough to sate a sweet tooth without inducing a sugar coma.
Bridgeport, we'll be back.
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