A Table for How Many? at the Shaved Duck
2900 Virginia Avenue
I'm Late for a Very Important Date
My husband and I were late to Dinner Club. We knew that we were dealing with adults, but still we worried about the other members fending for themselves. Would chaos ensue? Sadly -- for our egos -- we weren't needed. We arrived to find our group at a big table happily chatting away and sipping their drinks. The Shaved Duck had prepared a table for us despite its policy of not taking reservations. Don't expect that the Shaved Duck's staff will always do that, but their extra effort for a large party on a slow Monday night was appreciated.
(Note: The restaurant is open on Mondays despite what their website says.)
The quality service didn't stop at getting us a table. We received continuous attention throughout our meal and the payment process went flawlessly -- even with separate checks.
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I'll Try That, Too
No one wants to drink alone. I've found that when dining in large groups, people will order different entrées, often to share -- yet even with a large beer and wine list, if one person orders a drink, others will be more likely to order that same drink. I suppose that's because we think sharing drinks is more germ-laden than sharing food?
The drink of choice at this Dinner Club was Crown Valley Worktruck Wheat. Everyone got excited when our server mentioned that it had notes of banana. Even if you can't taste the banana -- I couldn't -- I'd recommend the beer as a good excuse to keep drinking: "Maybe on this next beer I'll be able to taste the banana."
What's on the Table?
The Shaved Duck specializes in barbecue. According to its website, "You will find us out back day and night smoking our meats." No Dinner Club members stepped out back to verify this claim, but given the high quality of their food, we trust it. Like many barbecue joints, there were sauces in squeeze bottles on the table. While my husband tasted each one on his finger pre-meal, the more civilized patrons were left wondering what surprise each bottle would bring. Our server did eventually explain them, but it was still hard to tell which was which as the bottles all looked similar. Labels would have been nice. (Not that we could have gone wrong using any of them, as each was unique and enjoyable.)
In addition to the barbecue sauces, the Shaved Duck has wet wipes on the table. I loved this because I didn't need to reach into Baby Pollack's diaper bag fpr one of his wet wipes, but even those without babies appreciated the extra touch.
There are those restaurants that wow you, but you still wouldn't go there every day. Maybe they are too expensive or maybe the food is just too unusual. Then there are those that are solid everyday choices. The Shaved Duck is one of those places that we could all see ourselves going back to again and again. It's simple, but not boring, with exceptional service and food that bursts with flavor.
Stefani Pollack is the author of the food blogs Cupcake Project and Food Interviews. She is also a member of the St. Louis Dinner Club. She blogs about her large-group dining experiences twice a month for Gut Check.