Friday, March 26, 2010

A Ducky Dinner at One Market Restaurant

Some of you know my rule about ordering duck — if it’s on the menu, I’m ordering it!

I love duck, so I never miss the opportunity to eat it when I dine out. And since it seems like a messy dish to make at home (I imagine lots of duck fat splattering and me running with my fire extinguisher to put out duck fat-induced flames in my oven), I rather leave the cooking of duck to the experts.

So imagine, for me, what it’s like to have a night where every course is duck. Quack heaven, baby.

My duck dinner took place last Friday at One Market Restaurant in San Francisco. This Embarcadero restaurant and its chef, Mark Dommen, actually dedicate a five-course prix fixe menu to one animal every Friday and Saturday night. It’s called the “Weekly Beast” dinner.

Sometimes it’s suckling pig or rabbit. Other more predictable like lamb or goat. The schedule is released a couple of weeks before, and I checked regularly to see when they would get around to doing duck. Once the duck dates came out, I booked a reservation and arrived for my dinner featuring duck from Liberty Farms.

I’ve actually never dined at One Market, thinking that since it’s near the Embarcadero that it was partly a tourist trap. Yes, there were quite a few tourists sitting around me, but it’s actually a very charming restaurant with an active bar. This one Michelin-star eatery also offers a chef’s table, which always intrigued me but I never had a party big enough to reserve the whole table.

The Weekly Beast dinner cost $49, which is a nice bargain for five courses. I also decided to do the $20 wine pairing, which is quite a value because as you’ll see in the upcoming photos, my server poured me a nice-sized glass for each course.

My dinner started, ironically, with a bay scallop amuse from the chef. I expected it to be some kind of duck, but I guess this was the same amuse offered to other guests who were ordering off the regular menu. Still, it was quite refreshing with the pickled fennel shavings.

But now to the duck.

First off was a duck liver mousse terrine, which was served with pickled hon shemiji mushrooms and a streak of reduced balsamic vinegar. A tray of sliced brioche was brought to my table to allow me to slather on the duck mousse. The mousse had a rich, gamey taste, and the thick balsamic acted like the Chinese hoi sin sauce — a popular condiment for duck. The pickled mushrooms helped to cut the rich flavors.

The mousse was paired with an effervescent 2004 Iron House Vineyards Classic Vintage Brut from Green Valley.

Second course was a duck salad where the duck egg in the center was cooked to exactly 62 degrees. It topped a salad of frisee, seasonal asparagus thinly sliced, and home-made duck prosciutto. There were also bits of preserved duck that was tender and dark, contrasting with what was overall a light and refreshing spring salad.

The salad was paired with a 2008 O’Reilly Pinot Gris from Oregon (I love some of the wine coming from Oregon these days, especially this light-but-substantive pinot gris).

The third course was duck leg ravioli served with mustard greens, hen of the woods mushrooms, and nearly engulfed by a foie gras emulsion. I have to say, the foie gras emulsion had a very beautiful pastel color, and it actually added a nice savory taste to the ravioli underneath. There were about three pieces that were filled with minced duck leg. I found this course very enjoyable.

The pasta was served with a 2006 Old Press Syrah from Paso Robles.

The main course (No. 4) was roasted duck breast, ‘natch. It was served with blood orange segments, ginger and endive. But pay close attention to the caramel-colored pieces on top. I don’t know what they were but they were genius. Thin candy-like pieces that resembled the crackling of duck skin, but definitely not skin. It added a surprise element to the dish with contrasting textures. The duck breast was perfectly cooked and the sauce had a familiar deep flavor that complimented the meat.

The duck breast was served with a 2007 Morgan Twelve Clones Pinot Noir from Santa Lucia Highlands. This was the heaviest wine of the night, which made sense.

The fifth and final course was dessert, and I have to say I was a bit afraid of what could be a duck dessert. But similar to the salad, the main ingredient was duck egg as my server brought over a duck egg crème brulee. It came with a scoop of chocolate cream and a cute candy character that I assume was supposed to resemble a duck? The crème brulee seemed richer with the duck egg, and tasted so nice. I also enjoyed the shortbread cookie served with it. (No wine was paired with the fifth course.)

I had thought a five-course duck dinner would weigh me down (but I was all game for it because of my love for duck). But Chef Dommen created such an interesting and diverse menu that it kept me engaged without playing the same taste note throughout.

I thoroughly enjoyed my ducky dinner, and find One Market’s Weekly Beast dinners to be very intriguing. If you haven’t tried it yet, I highly recommend you check out the restaurant’s Web site to see the upcoming schedule. If you see a beast you love, do go and enjoy the feast.

One Market, 1 Market St., San Francisco. PH: 415.777.5577., “Weekly Beast” every Friday and Saturday.


JulieK said...

Sounds yummy! Did you notice the ravioli picture kind of looks like a duck? The (dark triangle being the beak)Now i want to try a beast dinner!

davidsl said...

oooh, i had the great good fortune to attend a b-day party at the chef's table at one market not long ago. man, what an amazing meal! there were several of us with dietary restrictions of various kinds and, given fore warning, they accommodated us without any problems and produced one of the BEST meals i've ever eaten. great food, attentive service, wonderful room...what more can you say?

Single Guy Ben said...

Julie, I didn't notice that until you pointed it out! LOL

David, you have to invite me the next time you're dining at the chef's table. ;-)

Carroll said...

Wow, that meal looks completely amazing. Between you and Carolyn, my zest for a fancy meal has reached almost unbearable heights this week! Glad you got to really wallow in your beloved duck, Chef Ben :-)

Jacqueline said...

I love your pictures! The food looks great! :) The duck chocolate is really cute. I'll bookmark this place.

agent713 said...

I love the idea of a "weekly beast". That meal looked amazing!!!

Ravenous Couple said...

i'm like you...must order duck if it's on the menu! this sounded like a great meal for the price and a great concept!!

Jenster said...

I'm on the same page -- If duck is on a menu, then no other dishes exist! I enjoyed seeing which wines were paired with each duck dish. Wine-pairing is one of my weak spots, so I always utilize the sommelier as much as possible. Whoever invented the wine-pairing menu was a genius.

Love your photos, Ben.

consumableJoy said...

What a great review... I absolutely would consider going for the duck dinner (or the suckling pig dinner). My Lamb dinner there was good, not great, but intriguing enough in combination with your review and pics for me to give the Weekly Beast another shot.