Dinner Was A Lame Duk
I initially made a booking for the charming Pond (Duk’s sister restaurant), but without explanation, the reservation was overlooked, and I was redirected to Duk. Having previously been impressed by Pond, I didn’t cause a fuss as I expected a similar quality dining experience.
Duk is one square basement room accessed by a dark staircase – a claustrophobic mustard cube. It should have been easy for the staff to see diners, and manage the small number of tables. Despite being the largest table booked, nobody was on hand to greet or advise our party where to sit, creating an unwelcoming impression. There was just one menu between two tables, but weirdly coffee menus for all. I waited fifteen minutes for acknowledgement, before getting up and communicating the entire drinks order directly at the bar. There was also a lack of information, as the drinks menu provided no indication of what wines were available by the glass, the size of the glass and their respective prices. Two of the diners ordered white wine: one arrived warm, the other incorrectly poured.
Rather than individual plates or in bowls, Duk’s tapas came in a strange system of three bowls shaped into one ceramic form. This arrangement was completely impractical as whatever I ordered, was attached to someone else’s choice twelve feet away. We ate the entire meal from one small saucer, which forced residual flavours to mix that had no business together. Nobody asked if we wanted further drinks or food, frustrating as one item never materialised. The whole concept of tapas is people order little and often – something completely impossible at Duk. After everyone had finished, we wanted more, but after fifteen minutes of obviously nobody chewing, we gave up. When I got up to ask for a dessert menu, I was told there was only two deserts: “Churros and a collection of confectionery”. I enquired into what constituted a collection of confectionery and was reliably informed it was a “mixture”. How helpful.
At least the menu was diverse and exciting, and everything certainly sounded appetising. High-quality ingredients were used throughout but often lacked execution, as the kitchen’s output was a mixed bag. The Chorizo was rich and delicious, but the Pigs Cheek was incredibly tough. Some excellent cheese made a welcome appearance. The wine was decent but not cheap.
This poor evening was largely in part due to a shortage of staff, on another day a better experience is likely to be had, but it ‘s hard to justify a return to Duk.
Atmosphere 4 Cost 5 Quality 6 Service 1
*Since this review was first published, Duk Preston is unfortunately no longer with us – hence the lack of link*