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Duck Walk, why have you forsaken me?

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Since 2003, I've been eating at the Duck Walk a few times a year. They always had a great Drunken noodle and if I was in the area for any reason I knew I could count on a good meal. Their wine list is surprisingly extensive, and their decor is so unique (cut outs of clouds suspended from the ceiling, large patio umbrellas open inside, strange kitschy charger plates and candle holders) that I came to like it. I've recommended it to any number of people as a result on this board.

Unfortunately, last night we returned for a celebratory meal and were terribly disappointed by pretty much all aspects except for the weird decor which is unchanged. They seem to have raised their prices- they were always high for the Thai food genre, but I used to feel their food and service justified the prices. Last night, we split a bowl of tom yum goong soup- $5.95 for a flavorful but watery broth with raw white mushrooms floating in it. Raw veggies were the theme of the night. We ordered our typical drunken noodle- used to be very spicy, we had to ask (and wait, and wait) for sambal olek to add. There were chunks of literally raw broccoli and cauliflower in the noodles. The carrots for some reason were cooked. We also shared the wild spare ribs which we'd never tried before and would not recommend- at $15, not a generous portion of meat with very undercooked eggplant and onions. We actually sent this back to be cooked further- there's a reason raw eggplant is not put out on a crudite platter. We also had to ask for chopsticks more than once and serving spoons- while sitting staring at our food. You should never present people with food they cannot eat due to lack of utensils- this is a huge pet peeve of mine. Those minutes of waiting are longer than any other in the history of time.

We ordered a pot of tea to share instead of dessert. After about 5 minutes, the server informed us that they were out of the type of tea I'd selected off the tea menu. No big deal, but then it took another 10 minutes to bring our second choice. (I should mention the restaurant was less than 1/4 full). It's hot water, people! The tea seemed weak, and after drinking a few cups each I looked in the pot- one tea bag, string attached, was floating around in what must have been a liter of water. If you're going to have a tea menu and charge $3.50 for tea, you need to do a little better.

So, one soup, one tea and 2 entrees came to $48. It just didn't seem like a good value. Needless to say, I did not leave a very large tip. Does anyone know if there's been a change of chef or something to account for the disappointing experience? I'd love to say I'll give them another chance, but since Wakefield is by no means nearby for me I just can't see making the trek again unless there's some extenuating circumstances someone's aware of.

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Duck Walk On Wakefield Sq
397 Main St, Wakefield, MA 01880

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  1. You must not be the only person who has noticed a change in the food. I was there to pick up a take-out order recently, and I was the only customer there. Just completely empty. (I got pad thai, which was fine, by the way).

    1. I agree with you about raw eggplant, but FYI, will mention that that is the way it comes, along with chunks of raw cabbage, as the crudites accompanying at least one of the dishes served at a Cambodian restaurant in Lowell at which I had an unpleasant lunch experience.

      4 Replies
      1. re: greygarious

        Sushi Island right next door is a much better bet. Especially on Friday nights with the live music!

        1. re: greygarious

          Raw Thai Eggplant and cabbage are traditional accompaniments to Tirk Kreoung Pahok, and a number of other Cambodian dishes.

          1. re: galleygirl

            Okay, I hear you guys. I really don't think the eggplant was supposed to be raw though. They don't have any Cambodian background either as far as I know and we've never once been served undercooked veggies in 10 or so other visits there.

            1. re: Parsnipity

              Yeah, I was replying to the other response, which sounded, to me, as tho raweggplant made the cabodian dish less pleasant.
              I agree; I like the eggplant in my pad kee mao cooked!

        2. I've not been to Duck Walk and I know there is a lot of praise on this board, but some observations - sambal olek and chopsticks are not Thai....I guess I was under the impression that they were more authentic. I also don't understand your statement that the broth was flavorful but watery?

          1 Reply
          1. re: digga

            It may not have been sambal olek- I simply asked for hot sauce; what came out tasted like sambal olek. And I know chopsticks are not traditionally Thai but nearly all the patrons were eating with them that night and I do personally prefer to eat Thai food with chopsticks. And why can't a broth be flavorful but thin? Usually I've had tom yum soup with a thicker broth with more body and with strips of lemongrass and sometimes chunks of tofu.

            I'm not sure I ever positioned the Duck Walk as really authentic- I don't know that I have the expertise to comment on that. I mean, is it authentic to have an extensive list of French wines? All I can say is it used to be my favorite Thai place and based on this last visit, it's gone far downhill.

          2. I don't understand why people think chopsticks are authentic Thai.