By Suzanne Parker
I married a Brit and he never lets me forget it. One of his ways is by waxing nostalgic for the Sunday dinners of his youth. Said dinners involved chowing down, mid-afternoon, on a roast. It was usually a leg of lamb, commonly referred to as a “joint,” accompanied by — at minimum — roast potatoes, some kind of brassica, puddles of gravy, and mint sauce.
Early in our union, I rebelled from this monotony and predictability, preferring variety and adventure on my table. My willingness to recreate English Sunday dinner only very occasionally, and usually not on a Sunday afternoon, probably intensified my honey’s longings. So when we heard that the Dog and Duck in Sunnyside offers a Sunday roast dinner, it seemed like the perfect way to satisfy his cravings.
The Dog and Duck is a gastropub that’s been around since 2011. The setting is classic, well-worn wood. There’s an appealing selection of craft brews — on tap and in bottles — plus some interesting specialty cocktails, and a small but decent wine list. The menu is more or less recognizable pub fare enhanced with creativity and an occasional Irish lilt. Clearly a reliable place to imbibe and snack, but we were there with one objective — the Sunday Roast.
Dog and Duck’s prix fixe Sunday Dinner menu delivers great value at $28 for three courses — appetizer, entrée plus sides, and dessert — all in. The starters are all equally worthy choices. The generous personal crock of duck liver pate was a decadently creamy spread with just a hint of sweetness. It came with slabs of crusty bread and a tri-partite tray of bacon, pickles and caramelized onion. The chicken corn and cashew vol-au-vent was a deliciously updated throwback to a 1950s ladies’ lunch dish, with the cashews reminding you which century we’re in. The winter salad and cauliflower soup were everything you would want and expect from those dishes.
Now here’s where things get dicey. All of the mains came with outstanding, even memorable, sides. The problem was that in all cases, the centerpiece meats did not live up to their companions. The leg of lamb — which came with perfectly nice roast potatoes and minty peas — was full of gristle. The marvelous colcannon that came with the pork entrée tasted like the filling for the world’s greatest broccoli knish, and the red cabbage played nicely off its partner. But the rolled pork stuffed with spinach was overcooked and dry.
The roast beef, came with a decent rendition of that most iconic of English sides, Yorkshire pudding, as well as roast potatoes and an exceptionally sweet carrot and parsnip puree. The sides were yummy, but the beef, in keeping with the emerging theme, was overdone and juiceless.
The one entrée we sampled that was not on the prix fixe menu was bangers and mash. These were tasty, juicy sausages, on a bed of herby mash, overlaid with lashings of excellent gravy and topped with a mound of crisply fried onions. It’s transporting for anyone with a taste for Anglo-Irish culinary traditions.
There were only two desserts to choose from on the Sunday Dinner menu — tiramisu or bread pudding — but they both knocked it out of the park.
The Bottom Line
There is obvious talent in the kitchen. I wouldn’t hesitate to come back and work my way through the regular menu of pub-ish fare. But for some reason, they didn’t seem to be able to turn out a roast that lived up to the quality of the rest of the cooking.
Suzanne Parker is the TimesLedger’s restaurant critic and author of “Eating Like Queens: A Guide to Ethnic Dining in America’s Melting Pot, Queens, N.Y.” She can be reached by e-mail at qnsfo