“When was the last time you found food from south-west of France in the heart of London?”
I’m asked this as I settle into dinner at Monsieur Le Duck, a new pop-up restaurant located just off the Liverpool Street tube station. I can’t come up with a satisfying answer, which is why Monsieur Le Duck and its carefully crafted menu is founder Richard Humphreys’ solution to fill the duck-shaped culinary hole in London’s food scene.
The restaurant, inspired by the douceur de vivre of Gascony, transports the diner right into a luxurious, yet laid-back French setting. It’s clear Humphreys pays attention to detail, because every bit of decor in the restaurant plays into either wine, France, or duck. Ordinarily, I’d be wary of wooden duck sculptures staring at me as I chat with the front staff, but at Monsieur Le Duck, it feels right.
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Eyeing the menu, my waitress explains that Humphreys has exchanged quantity for quality with the restaurant’s limited food selection. The diner has the option of duck cooked three ways: a confit duck leg, duck magret breast, or a duck burger. Served with chips and mixed leaf salad, its simplicity is exactly what I need on a cold London night. Regional sides are also offered such as green beans, seasonal vegetables, or put lentils.
“Here, we want to take what you’re used to and make it the Gascony way”, David, one of restaurant’s key investors, tells me as I’m served salad along with bread and duck fat butter for my first course.
While I was initially wary of the butter, in fact it had a delightfully smooth texture and an umami taste that reminded me I wasn’t sampling any ordinary bread basket.
Before I could fight over the last piece of bread with my partner, we were served a beautiful tray of duck. Two burger sliders, a confit leg, and versions of the duck breast both grilled and fried were displayed on a cutting board.
While the breast and the leg were delicious, the standout was the duck burger. Because duck is much leaner than cow or chicken, the flavour is quite subtle. When blended into a burger patty with its fat, becomes considerably richer, with a taste quite unlike any other burger you might have had before. Monsieur Le Duck’s version comes with a dash of aioli, cornichon pickles, and lettuce, topped with a toasted brioche bun. C’est délicieux.
The restaurant's wine menu is sourced from vineyards across south-west France. A good simple match for all three styles of duck is the Côtes de Gascogne, or if you are looking for something a bit higher end, the sparkling bottle of Château Monluc chardonnay also goes well.
Partnered with By the Horns Brewing Co., Monsieur Le Duck also has cans of a house IPA, labelled with a line-cartoon duck holding a baguette. A nice addition to a wine-centric menu.
After you have had your fill of duck, end the night with one of the restaurant’s three desserts – creme brulee, tarte aux pommes, or fromage a trois. The creme brulee was recommended by my waitress, and it did not disappoint.
If you find yourself craving a duck-centric French menu (and who doesn't from time to time), set a course for Monsieur le Duck. Act fast though, because the restaurant will only be around until May, even though food of this quality deserves a more permanent home.
Monsieur Le Duck, 4 Brushfield Street London, leduck.co.uk
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