Local chef Ashish Alfred opened his first Duck Duck Goose in Bethesda in 2016, where fans congregated to enjoy brasserie fare like a colossal côte de boeuf, duck confit, French onion soup, and a few surprises, like fresh pasta. Two years later, Alfred installed a Duck Duck Goose in Baltimore’s Fells Point neighborhood.
He hasn’t intentionally avoided opening a restaurant in the District, but until now, he’s found himself priced out of the market.
“It’s something I’ve always wanted to do, but it’s been cost prohibitive for a small business like ours,” Alfred says, noting he’s doesn’t have an expansive network of partners and investors. “Because of the pandemic, landlords are looking for a sure thing and tenants they can count on and know work.”
The Duck Duck Goose Alfred is bringing to Dupont Circle this spring is taking over the space Vintage78 most recently called home. The Persian restaurant from brothers Maziar and Shahab Farivar only opened in May 2019 at 2100 P St. NW. Maziar did not respond to City Paper’s request for comment on the closure. Before Vintage78, the space housed Scion.
What makes Duck Duck Goose a sure thing in the eyes of a commercial landlord? “Duck Duck Goose is an experience,” Alfred says. People flock to the restaurant’s generous happy hour in both Bethesda and Baltimore. “It’s value for money. It’s a good time. It’s fancy if you want it to be fancy. It’s laid back if you want it to be laid back. It’s wine and cheese or truffles and foie gras,” he says.
He hopes both nearby hotel guests and neighbors embrace the versatile spot he wants to open by May or June. “The goal here is we just want to make people happy,” Alfred says. “We pride ourselves on being a good neighborhood restaurant for special occasions or just dinner on Tuesdays.”
Alfred, who recently closed George’s Chophouse in Bethesda, says he’s proud of the cocktail and wine options at Duck Duck Goose. He’s equally fond of the mocktails and plans to host “sober nights” at the Dupont Circle location.
“It would be a sober safe space and feature mocktails paired with food,” Alfred explains. The chef, who’s in recovery, hopes his journey to sobriety inspires others. “Some of the first meetings I went to were two blocks away from the restaurant,” he says.
The brasserie seats about 80 people and has two distinct outdoor seating options. Alfred says the menu won’t be a replica of the ones in Maryland, but customer favorites like chicken Forgione (chicken under a brick inspired by New York chef Marc Forgione) will make the cut.
Asked if opening a third Duck Duck Goose is a sign that Alfred is looking to bring a string of modern French brasseries to the region, Alfred says he has “no interest in being the next Ruth’s Chris or Red Lobster.” He would, however, consider additional outposts if he finds “spaces that are beautiful and organic and fit in their community.”
Duck Duck Goose, 2100 P St. NW