Thursday, February 25, 2010

Eating Out a Mad Duck

So recently I’ve been reading up on the local restaurant news and this new spot called The Mad Duck came to my attention. Since they’re still in the building stage, I can’t really review the place. But I can go on a non-sequetarian rant about the menu. Join us won’t you?

Now, in case you haven’t noticed, I’m quite the curmudgeon. So my first inclination was to look at tearing apart their cookie cutter menu. The Duck is a burger and sandwich joint, in function not much different from a Red Robin. So naturally I’m digging through looking for the same old same old. And there are some commonly found plates. Caesar and Cobb salads, hot wings, bleu cheese burgers and the like. But I also found some interesting and even intriguing dishes surrounding them.

First off there was a beet salad. I don’t know if it will sell since most people put beets alongside brussel sprouts as fiberous culinary poison. But it’s certainly a bold choice for a very picky town. There’s a duck prosciutto salad that looks interesting, if for no other reason than it’s hard as hell to find many dishes in town that use it. Their appetizers vary between the familiar, the gimmicky, the bizarre and the hopefully awesome. Wings, sweet potato fries, familiar. Fried pickles and buffalo chicken dip, gimmicky. Warm soft pretzel…bizarre. Wait, what’s this? Baked brie, pulled pork sliders and devilled eggs. Wait, DEVILLED EGGS? Hell yes! I know they’re simple to make at home, but talk about comfort food. I don’t know if it’s a bold, maverick choice. Or, if it’s a brilliant stroke of marketing to reach out to the common man and say “Heck man, we ain’t no dang ole high falutin’ snooty type ‘Beestro’! We’s just like y’all. Devilled egg?”.

Burgers are burgers. In my opinion the most avant garde thing a cook can do with a burger is cook it properly. The lulu burger is somewhat interesting since it incorporates lamb. But hardly a new item for Fresno. But the sandwiches again diverge from the usual fare. Sure, there’s a steak sandwich and a pulled pork. Then you see the spicy shrimp stuffed baguette, the fried egg and bacon sandwich and a grilled brie and ham sandwich. Grilled brie and ham?? I’m getting fatter just thinking about it. I like this. Dessert is pleasantly simple. Bread pudding or cupcakes. Obviously dessert isn’t going to be their stock and trade. And I think that’s a very good thing for their entrĂ©es.

So, naturally I expect the prices to be through the roof at this point. The prices on their online menu are small and really difficult to read. Missing in a couple categories as well. But when my poor old eyes finally focus enough to find them, I was outright shocked! They were reasonable. There’s no dollar menu, but their prices are well below what I expected for the food they are offering. Salads between $5 and $10. Appetizers between $4 and $10 (fries only $2!). Burgers run between $6 to $9, which is in general, a lot for a hamburger. But, heck Carl’s Jr.’s prices have crept into that range. The prices for their sandwiches and premium burgers are still yet to be published on their website, but I daresay that I’m thinking that they will be reasonable as well.

Overall, I’m cautiously hopeful about The Mad Duck serving good food and if so, having a good shot at making it in Fresno. We will of course forgive them for having the audacity to be north of Shaw and the general poor taste to be located in Clovis. Being in Old Town off of Pollasky and 5th Street (that’s Bullard to us Fresnans) is, I suppose, an adequate concession.

And so we wish you luck you psychotic canard, you unbalanced mallard, you cracked up quacker. Expect Eating Out Fresno to beat a path to your door when you open. Here’s a prayer that your food can live up to my vastly overblown expectations. I really don’t want it to turn out like that one time I played ping pong with a porn star. High expectations, with a dreadfully painful letdown at the end. Who would have thought that Ron Jeremy was that good at ping pong?