Taking a trip out to a strip mall in Northeast Philly you would never expect to find such amazing food as you will at The Blue Duck. Without a car the trip can be difficult, but still manageable. We promise if you make the trip here it is totally worth it. Reservations are recommended for lunch, dinner, or brunch since this place is great and its no secret. It gets packed! Being a BYOB doesn’t hurt the crowds either. We got to sit at the bar overlooking the open kitchen which was a lot of fun, we’d recommend it if you get the chance.
The Blue Duck opened September 29, 2014. Co-owners Joe Callahan Jr. and Kris Serviss were lifelong friends. They went to grade school at St. Jerome’s, which is literally across the street from restaurant. They also attended high school together at Father Judge. After high school, Joe went into investment banking while Kris attended The Restaurant School at Walnut Hill and then worked in various restaurants including Iron Hill Brewery. They kept in touch and decided Northeast Philadelphia was in need of a great restaurant, it was time to open their New American BYOB.
The restaurant should be a place that felt like home, but where people could come and get Center City-quality food without having to go into the city.
The restaurant absolutely feels warm and welcoming with plates hanging on the walls and tables and chairs you would expect to find in someone’s home. When you come, DO NOT leave without getting an order of the Blue Duck Fries. One order per person is not recommended. These hand-cut fries are huge and tossed in duck fat then loaded with the most delicious creamy smoked gouda cheese sauce, shredded duck meat, and topped with scallions.
Another favorite of ours was the General Tso Buffalo Wings with wasabi blue cheese. The wings were crispy and sweet, dripping with their awesome General Tso sauce and the wasabi in the blue cheese for dipping added an extra kick, which was something we had never tasted before.
Arielle is very particular about her burgers. They need to be juicy and flavorful, and you need to be able to taste the cheese- or else it’s just a waste. Don’t worry, Blue Duck did not disappoint. The House Grind Burger with house grind beef patty, choice of cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion, and roasted garlic mayo was simply perfect. You could absolutely taste how fresh the burger was, and it was cooked perfectly the way I liked it. The Blue Duck also has some outstanding and unique burgers like their Pork Roll Burger with a pork roll & beef patty, sriracha mayo, cooper American, and sunny-side-up egg, on a Martin’s potato roll. This burger is a great brunch option also.
If you dare, try the Beast of Northeast Philly Burger, it was added it to the menu 6-7 months ago after it was a special burger when Zagat named The Blue Duck one of the top burger places in the country! It’s been on the menu ever since. The burger starts with a wild boar and beef patty , topped with smoked gouda, sweet tomato jam, bacon, and crispy sriracha onions.
The Blue Duck has everything you’d want for comfort food. Don’t miss out on their Mac N’ Cheese. For traditionalists there is the Classic Mac with homemade cheddar sauce, thick-cut smoked bacon, and toasted panko bread crumbs. As you can guess, it was delicious. It was creamy, the shells were the perfect choice for the pasta, as they gathered the right amount of cheese in them, which oozed with every bite. The panko added that crunch that you usually need when eating something soft, and didn’t overpower any of the flavor.
When we stopped by they were all sold out of the Brisket Mac with shredded brisket, caramelized onions, toasted panko bread crumbs, and jalapenos. And how could The Blue Duck not offer the Quack & Cheese?! This mac is topped with shredded duck, smoked Gouda, roasted portabellas, dried cherries, and duck fat panko- the ultimate indulgence for diners.
The menu at also offers fine dining entree options like the Everything-Spiced Duck Breast with fingerling potatoes, brussels sprouts, and whipped Boursin cheese. A big customer favorite is the Wild Boar Meatloaf with red bliss mash, asparagus, and herb brown gravy. This meatloaf is SO much better than what your mom used to make. On the lighter and refreshing side there is Pan-Seared Scallops with chilled barley salad, and white corn puree. If you don’t want a full order of the mac then try the Fried Chicken with sriracha-buttermilk fried chicken, mac ‘n’ cheese, and creamed swiss chard, drizzled with tobasco honey. Duck lovers rejoice because the Duck Pierogis are also incredibly delicious and unique with shredded duck, smoked gouda , potato and butternut squash filling, kale, apples, and beets.
If you save room for dessert its also killer. The menu here even has salads so don’t worry about bringing your healthy friends. They also offer taco specials. And if you can grab a brunch reservation we’d highly recommend it (although you won’t be able to order the duck fries) because the menu is to die for. Try the savory Duck Benedict with sliced duck breast, poached eggs, and cherry-sriracha hollandaise on a Martin’s potato roll, or Chicken & Waffles with sriracha-buttermilk fried chicken on a Belgian waffle with bourbon syrup and powdered sugar. For your sweet tooth they have Stock’s Bakery Pound Cake French Toast with chocolate chips, whipped cream and maple syrup!
Don’t forget about the Pork Roll Egg Rolls with pork roll, egg, American cheese, and sriracha ketchup for dipping or the Cuban Egg Rolls with shredded pork, pickles, ham, Swiss and Dijonnaise sauce for dipping. Needless to say The Blue Duck is offering a killer menu worth the trip outside Center City.
And be sure to watch The Blue Duck shine on June 26th at the 2016 Philly Burger Brawl at Xfinity Live where they will be competing for the People’s Choice Award for the 3rd year in a row! You don’t want to miss that.
-Lea and Arielle
We would like to give a big thank you to Nick who arranged for us to visit The Blue Duck and try some of their amazing menu.