NOLA Duck Derby follow-up: Upperline moving up on the rail!
The Woman in The Hat, who's rarely met a (non-Asian) duck she didn't like, and who ranks Frank B's duck high on her "best of all time" list, had duck at Brigtsen's w/ cherry sauce on Wednesday last, as she always does when we're in NOLA.
Thursday, she was kind of under the weather, (a bad oyster maybe?) and so did not join us at Upperline, where we had never been previously. In her absence, I preemptively tried Ken Smith's duck there. Wow. My immediate comment was "I gotta get her in here, before we leave town!"
We had a non-specific dinner invite for Saturday. When asked if there was someplace we'd specifically like, I said "Yep. Upperline!"
The intervening passage of several days prevented a really clear A-B comparison (to use an audio geek term) but the balance may now have shifted in favor of Upperline.
I'd say go with the port-garlic sauce, rather than the peach, though they'll bring you both.
This is why, btw, I had my blood tests for my 6/1 physical taken two weeks earlier, BEFORE I came to New Orleans.
The next time you're in NOLA try to get to Cuvee for their duck. I'm not sure if it's on the menu full time or not but I had it for my "prize" after working a trial shift there in late April and it was the best duck I've ever had.
A confit leg 1/4, Steen's cane syrup cured & smoked breast w/ bleu cheese-toasted walnut risotto & pear demi glace....my mouth is watering just thinking about it!
They also put a nice nob of seared foie gras on top of mine, but I don't know if that actually comes with it or not.
Also try the Foie Gras appetizer - Foie gras brulee w/ a suprise foie prepration on the side.
I think we had the Cuvee duck a year ago. It was, for my money, a little too close to a foodie joke: long on description, short on true ducky goodness (I remember thinking "Why put BLUE CHEESE on duck?").
At Upperline, on the other hand, the duck was so close to perfect that there was a brief discussion of whether even the sauce was too much of a distraction from the duck itself; I argued that the garlic-port sauce wasn't, and Frank B's sour cherry wasn't, but that an argument could be made that if the sauce was much sweeter than those (Upperline's peach sauce) the sugar might actually detract...
As I said, not just possibly the best in New Orleans, but possibly rivaling anything So Cal, No Cal or Paris offer...
Curiously, we were also at Brigsten's Wednesday (on the porch) and had the duck w/cherry sauce (in addition to the sweetbreads and the tuna). Certainly among the best in the city. To quote my wife: "pretty stinkin' good." I still vote for Stella's duck five ways as the city champ.
Whoops....too much .....Anyway, Ken Smith and Upperline RARELY fail to deliver. He has certainly done a great job of filling the beloved Tom Cowman's toque. Great to read such a wonderful posting.