My time spent ‘living’ in France as part of my language degree is characterised by being hotboxed by the owner’s 16 year-old-daughter, avoiding her pervy boyfriend, and scoffing duck legs that had been slow-roasted in their own fat every single night. Yes, I put on a stone in eight short weeks but it was love-fat, a chubbiness that comes from being settled and well-fed. Monsieur Le Duck is one of the few places in London that does duck the proper French way; I went down to widen my waist once again.
From pop-up to permanent, Monsieur Le Duck can be found on the hectic stretch of Clerkenwell Road. Inside, the rumble of the traffic is lost to an exposed-brick sanctuary. The restaurant is inspired by Gasgony’s ‘sweetness of life’ ethos, and simple interiors soften white industrial pipes that run along the ceiling, while clackety wooden tables and potted plants fill the nooks and crannies.
If you don’t like duck, don’t bother turning up as this menu is a water fowl-phile’s dream. Three small plates are stuffed with the bird; the rillettes’s (£6) smokiness stands out, especially against the tang of the sweet jam, which we smeared on the white bread. The confit de canard (£12) absolutely lives up to France’s beloved dish, as the salty crispy skin and tender brown meat flaked away from the bone; the rich flavours kept when paired with a bowl of greens and lardons (£4). Trust the knowledgeable bar man to bring you a cocktail match, with my love of sharp flavours glassed up in a short, apple and mezcal sour, and a bottle of Levalet Reserve Malbec, made for a chocolate-y smooth accompaniment to indulgent mains.
The DesignMyNight Digest
Basing an entire menu around one meat is a risky business, but Monsieur Le Duck's simplicity is also why it works. Not everything takes flight (the confit duck croquettes were a little too potato-y for my liking), but this charming little spot nails classics, including the confit and easy wine list. Forget a trip to our continental neighbour, this Clerkenwell restaurant has got more charm than even the most authentic French bistro.