Duke's Counter opened in Woodley Park last month. It's the second location from the owners of the British-inspired Duke's Grocery, located in the former Zoo Bar space near the National Zoo.
The menu borrows several hits from its Dupont sister spot, like the two-patty Proper Burger, burrata with honey, truffle oil, and pancetta, and the Masala wrap with curried chicken salad. The addition of a deep fryer has opened up the door for fish and chips. Both the bar and the draft system are much bigger, so there's a broader lineup of beer and spirits. And last week Duke's expanded food service until midnight on weekends.
What do D.C. diners think of this new attraction next to the zoo? Just a few weeks in business, Duke's has 10 Yelp reviews with an overall rating of four and a half stars. Read on for the early word on Duke's Counter:
The Human Foot Traffic News: Zoo visitors and year-round neighbors seem thrilled to welcome a new option. Zagat says, "This trim, London-inspired gastropub" caters to the "hungry tourists and hip locals, passing-by." Instagrammer @elaudow sums up her experience with a heart-eyed smiling emoji and a burger pic, writing, "When the best cheeseburger in DC moves to your neighborhood." [Zagat, Instagram]
The Great Right-Out-Of-The Gate News: Facebooker Tori Easterday admits to expecting "a few hiccups" on the first night but was pleasantly surprised: "The servers were attentive and informative. The food was flavorful and delicious and the atmosphere felt fun and intimate." Yelper Deb L., who also had a positive experience on night one, says, "Everything was prepared quickly and with friendly service. The food was very good, the burger meat was tender and flavorful, the cheese well melted. I enjoyed the tang of the sweet chili sauce and the pickles where plentiful and yummy." [Facebook, Yelp]
The Much-Needed News: Some locals think eateries are going extinct in the zoo's neighborhood, so this opening is a good sign of restaurant regeneration. Yelper Andrew S. says, "Woodley Park has so, so, so few good options for either drink or food, and this is now far and away the best in the area." PoPville agrees, calling Duke's "a huge score for the Woodley/Cleveland Park crowd. Hell this is a huge score for those with little kids who go to the Zoo a couple times a month/week." [Yelp, PoPville]
The Rare Breed News: Duke's menu dives deep into uncharted food territory. WCP writes, "Duke's Counter serves a take on a cheesesteak and the "Spicy Aubergine" with panko-crusted eggplant and squash, smoked Gouda, charred red onion, pickled jalapeños, fennel pesto, chili sauce, and coriander on ciabatta. Small plates span the yet-to-be-played-out avocado toast, local corn elote, and truffle mac + cheese." [WCP]
The Designer News: WCP writes, "In addition to the handsome copper bar, there are a few high-top tables and a line of booths in the back that face an eye-catching mural." PoPville signs off on the makeover and says, "The dark interior from the Zoo Bar days (good for Blues and Jazz) have been completely brightened." Looking up at reclaimed wood, Instagrammer @theransomcompany says, "Remember: one man's ceiling is another man's floor." [WCP, PoPville, Instagram]
The Monstrous Servings News: Come hungry or be ready to share sizable orders like fries. Yelper MaryE W. says, "Portions were quite generous--you could easily split something." Twitter user @kcivey says, "Salmon tartine was good, though too many beets for me." [Yelp, Twitter]