With the Cricket World Cup final coming up this weekend ducks (being out without scoring) may be on people’s minds.
But the term “being out for a duck”* could take on a whole new – and much more pleasant – meaning if you choose to visit one of Clerkenwell’s newest restaurants.
At Monsieur Le Duck, which the owners claim is London’s only all-duck restaurant, it’s duck, duck and more duck in a whole variety of ways.
Front and centre, the restaurant will focus on duck, chips, salad and wine.
The restaurant is designed to bring the food and wine of south-west France to the heart of London and it could be the first of many.
Founder and owner Richard Humphreys was inspired by Gascony’s douceur de vivre (sweetness of living). The restaurant is set over two floors and has dishes including duck burger, duck steak baguette, duck Wellington, confit duck and the delicious duck magret breast.
Its opening followed a six-month stint as a pop-up bistro near Liverpool Street which was so successful the owners felt it deserved a permanent home.
Richard, 35, a frequent traveller to Gascony, has designed Monsieur Le Duck as an authentic portal to a land of relaxed eating and drinking – a concept synonymous with that area in France.
Monsieur Le Duck has proved popular by emulating long lunches in village squares, laughter among friends, carafes of local wine, Armagnac, and, most importantly, duck.
Hugely passionate about the simple, rich and delicious food of this part of France, Richard gave up his previous career in the City to follow his dream of introducing his distinct take on this cuisine to London.
The menu includes confit Moulard duck leg, pan fried or chargrilled Moulard duck breast and a 100% Barbary duck leg minced burger accompanied with homemade prune mayo and baby gem lettuce.
No French meal is complete without wine and Monsieur Le Duck will be offering carefully selected south-west France-focused wines by the glass, carafe or bottle. The wines will be complemented by signature Armagnac-based aperitifs and French beers.
Richard said: “The idea to open a duck restaurant had been kicking around for a while. I had been craving good quality duck following a number of family holidays to Gascony. Last year, we decided to just go for it and open a pop-up near Liverpool Street. It all happened very quickly. It was only two-and-a-half weeks from finding the site to opening the doors to the public. One of the highlights was hosting (Observer restaurant critic) Jay Rayner (left) who gave us the most incredible review, so we can’t have done a bad job.
“Duck is a relatively unexplored meat in the UK, but the health and sustainable benefits make it a great alternative to beef. The carbon footprint of duck is actually one fifth of that of beef and lamb. It contains more iron than beef. Duck fat also has a melting temperature of 14 degrees C, whereas beef is 45 degrees C. This means your body will processes the fat a lot easier than other red meats.
“The best part so far of Monsieur Le Duck has been seeing French people flocking to the restaurant. We actually have plans to open a few more sites in the future, starting with London then looking further afield in Europe, Asia and the US. I would love to open one in Paris at some point, just for the cheek of it.”
*The term “out for a duck” is a shortening of duck’s egg, which was being used long before Test cricket began. When referring to the Prince of Wales’ (the future Edward VII) score of nought on 17 July 1866, a newspaper wrote that the Prince “retired to the royal pavilion on a duck’s egg” – Wikipedia.