Duck, duck, yum
“You come to the Eastern Shore; you’ve got to try duck.” Those wise words come straight from the mouth of Daniel Pochron, executive chef of the Tidewater Inn and it’s Hunters Tavern restaurant, located in the heart of downtown Easton. And Pochron, along with Executive Sous Chef Matthew Robbins, has created a dish to help you do just that, something he’s named “Deep Dish Duck.”
For those who’ve historically stuck with chicken over duck, Pochron says it’s time to branch out, and this is a mild enough dish to ease you in. It’s also one that honors its home, with the Tidewater Inn serving as a hunting lodge of sorts when it opened in 1949. At that time, ducks would’ve been cleaned on site, making this an ideal location for either a first or a return taste of the bird. Inspired by fall flavors and Eastern Shore traditions, this dish features a roasted duck breast on top of a sweet potato purée, with a duck confit shepherd’s pie underneath, roasted turnips, celery, butternut squash and cipollini onions. Served in layers on a single plate, “Deep Dish Duck” looks deceptively overwhelming at first glance, but once you dive in, you realize it’s just enough to fill your belly without overdoing it. And between the succulent duck and the rich fall vegetables, it’s a dish that feels like the perfect mix of fine dining and comfort food.
The duck confit suits the Tidewater’s upscale venue while the sweet potatoes give you a taste of the familiar, and their pairing leaves you delightfully satisfied. Speaking of pairings, no good meal would be complete without a complementary cocktail, especially for those seeking to warm up on a brisk November day. This is where a third member of the Tidewater’s team, bartender Richard “Buck” Willey steps in with his creation — “Plume of the Quill.” This cocktail isn’t for everyone — Willey describes it as “very boozy” — and he’s not exaggerating. It’s made up of equal parts gin, Campari and sweet vermouth, and is finished off with a dash of absinthe, a splash of Prosecco and an orange twist. “Plume of the Quill” feels like a classic cocktail with a fun, fall twist. It’s incredibly flavorful with an almost licorice taste, but the Prosecco goes a long way to break up the stiffer alcohols. It’s also visually appealing, with a warm, inviting color that may leave fellow patrons eyeing your drink from across the room. Despite, or maybe because of, its strength, the drink pairs very well with its duck counterpart and could stand up to other hearty meals, particularly those featuring roasted meats.
The staff at Hunter’s Tavern emphasize their teamwork, and this drink seems to have gotten the memo. “Deep Dish Duck” and “Plume of the Quill” are a duo that screams fall, and not just because of their waterfowl-themed names. The savory combination will leave you warm on the inside and smiling on the outside as you head back out the door to face cool temperatures and crisp air. So listen to Pochron and give duck a try; you won’t be sorry that you did.