The story goes that the Shaved Duck was named following a night of wine, brainstorming and Google at its sister restaurant, the Scottish Arms, last year. The name "Adelphi," in a nod to the district in London, was tossed around as a possible candidate, but some online digging revealed a similarly named restaurant already existed. The next morning, "The Shaved Duck" was the only name that pierced the haze of hangovers. It stuck.
The Shaved Duck's sky-high wooden doors open to reveal a bar area that looks like a cozy, well-decorated study, so it seems perfectly natural that at one end of the bar, a man is engrossed in a book, pausing every once in a while to sip his beer. There's dark wood and whimsical, jewel-tone stained glass, low-hanging lights and wide-open windows that look onto the tidy brick homes that line this Tower Grove East neighborhood.
Almost immediately after the Shaved Duck opened last May, it was lauded for its first-rate beer selection. It's easy to see why: Their beer list is smart and organized in a user-friendly way, wending as it does from cider to stouts. Its midsection is a span of earthy browns, and their differences are easily navigated with the bartender's help.
After debating the merits of this beer over that one, we think about the plummeting temperatures outside: "Maybe wine instead," we say in a meek voice. Even though our bartender, Sara, has expertly answered all of our beer queries, she gives nary a flicker of exasperation when we consider plucking something from the Shaved Duck's comparatively short wine list. (It doesn't surprise us to learn that she was once a teacher.) But we eventually settle on a beer called Goose Island Nut Brown.
It turns out to be a good choice: It rolls onto the palate — almost creamy in its smooth, nutty sweetness. Chestnuts roasting on an open fire, one might say. The Chicago-based Goose Island Beer Company recommends pairing the beer with a barbecued pork sandwich, but it goes along swimmingly with everything we've had tonight: beef carpaccio, duck-fat frites and the Quack Madame, which is even more fun to eat (egg, ham and a hollandaise-like sauce on toasted bread) than it is to order. Ditto the chili. It wasn't on the menu, but the bar manager was tinkering with a batch in the back, and suddenly a bowl appeared in front of us. Throughout the night the thoughtfulness extended from every corner of the menu to the spontaneous — and delicious — gestures such as this one.
The Shaved Duck is open all year round; duck season comes to a close in the St. Louis region December 30.
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