Duck Duck Goose already has successful locations in Bethesda, Maryland, and Baltimore.
This summer, the French brasserie will open its first D.C. location in Dupont Circle.
“We’ve been fortunate to survive the pandemic,” Chef Ashish Alfred told WTOP. “A lot of landlords were willing to let out their current tenants, provided they could find a replacement. … Up until now we were priced out of the D.C. market. … If there’s one good thing for our business from the pandemic it’s been the opportunity to expand.”
Duck Duck Goose took over 2100 P Street Northwest, formerly Scion and Vintage 78.
“The guy that owned Scion, who was there for 20 years, was a great owner, a staple of the community,” Alfred said. “The two gentlemen that took over and named it Vintage 78 were also very well respected. It was just a brand new business for them and they weren’t prepared for the pandemic. … So, it was handed off to me by fantastic people.”
The location will offer 60 outdoor seats and, after the pandemic, 80 indoor seats.
“This is a really great location,” Alfred said. “Great townhouses and brownstones around us. … That corridor used to be the party corridor right between Georgetown and Dupont Circle, so I think we’ll get a great brunch crowd, a fantastic dinner crowd. … The place has a fantastic patio and garage doors that go up and down.”
Initially, it will open just for dinner, but he hopes to expand to breakfast every day.
“People can look forward to a great beef tartare, people can always look forward to having great duck confit, there will always be some iteration of foie gras,” Alfred said. “Plan on seeing pâté on the menu, plan on some great cheeses on the menu. … We’re not trying to reinvent the wheel from a culinary perspective. For us, we serve the hits.”
You’ll also find a wine list with both French classics and zero-proof cocktails. Alfred is outspoken about his battle with addiction, so he provides alcohol-free options.
“We don’t really have a wine cellar, but we’re very proud of the selection we have,” Alfred said. “I’m a sober person who does not live my life in such a way that I shy away from going places. I learned very quickly in my own sobriety that for me there weren’t many options … so we started coming up with our own zero-proof cocktails.”
How did a first-generation Indian American pivot toward French cuisine? He was bullied growing up in Montgomery County, where he attended Magruder High School.
“I tried to run away from what my culture was for such a long time,” Alfred said. “Whatever was not Indian, that’s what I wanted to do, because I was embarrassed of it. … Not until I became a chef, did my own research and learned what that cuisine really was did I come to appreciate that Indian food is not just blow-your-head-off spicy.”
Instead, he studied at the prestigious French Culinary Institute in New York City.
“A lot of the household-name chefs stepped through those doors,” Alfred said. “When I got out on my own and people were really interested: ‘Where are you from?’ ‘Where’s your family from?’ It really forced me to think about it and I said, ‘Man, I’ve really got a lot to be proud of. To hell with the people who made fun of me as a kid.”
Ultimately, Alfred got the last laugh, named Chef of the Year by the Restaurant Association of Maryland in 2019, while Southern Living awarded him Best Restaurant in Maryland twice: the Bethesda location in 2017 and the Baltimore location in 2018.
He has also appeared on popular Food Network programs such as “Chopped,” “Cutthroat Kitchen” and “The Kitchen,” as well as a regular on “The Today Show.”
“My advice to young chefs is to put yourself out there, put your food out there, talk about yourself,” Alfred said. “A lot of people think it’s self-absorbed, [but] it’s really not. … Everybody else talks about what they do on social media, so you have to do the same thing. You never know what might stick and who it might stick to.”
Duck Duck Goose hopes to open in Dupont Circle by June.
“We would love to be open by June,” Alfred said. “We were left a pretty good shell … but even things like ordering furniture or light fixtures. Everybody knows the supply chain is all messed up right now, so things that used to take us a week or two to get, they’re now taking eight, 12, 16 weeks, so we’re kind of at the mercy of our shippers.”
When it does officially open, he hopes to see you there.
“If you’ve been there already, you already know why you should come back,” Alfred said. “If you haven’t, chances are you know somebody who has and they’ll tell you why you should come. … I think it speaks for itself. It’s a great meal at a great price and you’ll never forget the way you were treated by the people at Duck Duck Goose.”