Raw Duck is the sister to Duck Soup in Soho, which I loved - it's a great date venue, though the bill can rack up pretty easily. This one has a bit of a history - when it first opened it was located on Amhurst Road in Hackney; however, the building they were housed in had to go through an emergency demolition in November of last year. Devastating news for the owners, but they bounced back and re-opened a few months later on Richmond Road.
Google Maps doesn't know this though, and when you type Raw Duck into the app it will direct your very flustered friend to Amhurst Road. We arrived for brunch in dribs and drabs in varying states. It was one of the hottest days of the year, and I was baffled as to how anyone could sit in the courtyard with the sun beating down on them, but they did. The inside is large and airy, tables topped with white stone towards the back, while the middle is occupied with Scandinavian-style wooden tables and chairs. A far cry from the cramped bar seat nature of its' original, the menu is also very different. Some of it we didn't understand - tropea onion? Burlat cherries? - but the drinks list intriguingly listed 'drinking vinegars' and 'morning ferments'. Unfortunately many weren't available on the day we visited, but judging by their pickle shelf (above), fermentation is very much their thing.
'Broken eggs' (£8) turned out to be a lightly scrambled omelette, served in a cast iron skillet. Flavoured with anchovy and sage, the ingredients were of good quality and it was an inspired pairing. I couldn't stop stealing tastes of it, spooned on top of sourdough bread.
The 'dirty bird' (£7) was a massive sandwich, stuffed full of cold roast chicken and - joy! - a sheet of perfectly crisp chicken skin. My only gripe was that the advertised 'jalapeno mayo' was actually just mayo with jalapenos on the side for you to add in yourself. I wanted them incorporated, dammit.
The 'Reuben', also £7, suffered from sauerkraut that wasn't tart enough to cut through the richness of the pastrami and cheese. Strange for somewhere that posits fermentation as a thing. The advertised wasabi mayo was indistinguishable.
Trombetta courgette (that's a long, thin skinny one) was served with broad beans, peas, dill, pomegranate and tahini yoghurt (£10). We had wondered if it would be a flavour explosion but our resident vegetarian enjoyed it very much, making a nice change from the usual
mushrooms / aubergine sole vegetarian offering.
The drinks list is as interesting as Duck Soup's - unfortunately our waiter was a little short on information, and couldn't tell us what 'On ya Bicyclette' consisted of, so when we ordered it on a whim, it clashed rather horribly with our hangovers. White wine and Campari doesn't slide down easily. But an orange wine available by the glass was cider-like and refreshing, and got us back on track. On the whole, service was a bit haphazard and we had to physically flag people down and the restaurant wasn't full, but it was a minor inconvenience rather than anything major.
If I'm in the area, I'd return for dinner as the menu evolves to include exciting things that you don't often see, like salted coconut yoghurt, Sicilian red prawns and salt cod & pea fritters - not all together, mind. It strikes me as a worthy local restaurant, though perhaps not quite special enough to be somewhere I'd undertake a two hour round trip journey from home for.
197 Richmond Road
Hackney E8 3NJ
Hackney E8 3NJ