I decided to try The Duck Inn on a Tuesday night; it was my first time there, and I had high hopes and expectations as soon as I walked into this retro-inspired restaurant. It was cute. It was eclectic. It was inviting. This place just looked like a place you want to frequent and be a part of their culture. I honestly spent my first 5 minutes just photographing and looking around because I was immediately involved in the wood-meets-metal décor (PS. This is totally not like me because I like to know what I’m drinking to get on that right away). I was served a beer, and I quickly put in my food order: duck wings, roasted mushrooms, and the crispy chicken thigh. OMFG. I couldn’t even tell you which part of that order was my favorite. The duck wing app came out quickly, and they were devoured quickly. Just the right amount of crisp on the outside and the inside was so meaty and tender. Clearly, Chef Kevin Hickey is owning the namesake of the restaurant. The roasted mushrooms were a really great savory side, and the main crispy chicken thigh was the bomb. The chicken thigh was topped upon a hearty serving of corn grits that were some of the best I’ve had in my life. I wanted to lick the plate. I’m not kidding, I actually asked my boyfriend what he’d do if I licked the plate.
I kept going back to the food; I kept thinking about it. It was just so damn good. It was inventive. It was creative. It was freakin’ delicious. Luckily, I had a big reason to come back: I was throwing a small surprise party for a friend, and I knew this would be the perfect place to do it. General Manager John Williamson hooked it up and made sure our outdoor gathering was full of flowing wine and drinks, bomb ass food, and a beautiful setting. The outdoor patio is located a few steps below the back glass-paned doors, and it’s a pretty good size. The patio has its own bar, so you never have to travel far for a drink. Lights are strung throughout the backyard, and, with it being the right temperature outside, you’d never want to leave! There was a threat of rain, so John called me about an hour before the event to let me know they’d put up a tent…just in case. He thought of everything, he literally had everything covered. Our server Lindsay was so great…ask for her, she’s the best. Chef put together the perfect menu: duck wings, duck fat dog, hamburger sandwich, cheese fries, fried cheese curds, and rice cake fingers. Stop. I can’t take it. It’s all too much. It’s so good. Like, soooooo good. Like, go there now and eat their food…now! (Well, finish this article first, and then run to The Duck Inn.) The party was perfect, and my friend is still in shock from both the surprise and also how genuinely nice everything was.
To make matters even more legit: Chef Hickey is a native of Bridgeport! Not only was he born and raised in Bridgeport, but after some time here and there, he has made his way back to the same street he grew up on.
“[Chef Hickey] began his professional career in the restaurant business while a high school student at De La Salle. This led to an over 30 year career that truly began to take shape when he began working for Four Seasons hotels and resorts in Beverly Hills and eventually Dublin, London, and Atlanta before coming back to his native Chicago in 2004. First at The Ritz-Carlton Hotel as Executive Chef and eventually the Four Seasons Chicago where he led his team to two consecutive Michelin Stars and AAA Five Diamond status with Seasons. The Duck Inn opened in 2014, and in November 2015 was named one of the ‘Best New Restaurants in America’ by Esquire Magazine, awarded a coveted Bib Gourmand by Michelin inspectors, named to the Top 10 restaurants in America by USA Today, and chosen as Restaurant of the Year by Eater Chicago. The Chicago Tribune named Hickey, Chef of The Year for 2015.”
Needless to say, if you haven’t been to The Duck Inn, you have to go. Perfect for a dinner party, weekend dinner, date night…you name it. And if you don’t have friends, go by yourself. It’s that good.
Chef Kevin Hickey is the Chef/Partner at Bottlefork and The Duck Inn. He is also the Food and Beverage Director for Rockit Ranch Productions. Chef Hickey is also involved in Global Act, Growing Power, and Common Threads.
The Duck Inn is located in Bridgeport at 2701 S Eleanor St., Chicago, IL 60608.