Rawduck’s first premises, a café on Amhurst Road, closed rather dramatically in November 2013 after structural damage to the building led to an emergency evacuation and its eventual demolition. It reopened in April on Richmond Road in a larger and airier space with a full kitchen, suggesting that the relocation, despite being harrowing, has wrought some benefits to the restaurant’s scale and ambitions.
Like its sister restaurant Ducksoup, Rawduck puts an emphasis on healthful, seasonal eating and house cured, smoked, and fermented food. Its quirky menu has unusual ingredients that, while enticing, are sometimes needlessly obscure. Thankfully our waiter welcomed questions and recommended dishes. Following her suggestion, we started with a raspberry drinking vinegar: slightly carbonated, tart but not sour, it was a worthy non-alcoholic alternative to wine.
Our dinner consisted of various sharing plates. Fermented sweet white miso carrots were the star of the meal – and cost £2. The miso’s salty richness balanced out the sweetness of the blanched carrots. The “impatient” cucumber pickles that followed were bland by comparison and lacked the punch of a longer brine. A courgette and pomegranate salad with tahini yogurt was beautifully presented and an exemplar of the restaurant’s mission to source the best ingredients.
Buttermilk fried chicken, while expertly done, didn’t stand out, but the restaurant’s signature dish, chopped raw duck, was excellent: marinated in citrus juice with red onion and chilli, it was an elegant take on a ceviche. For pudding we shared a lemon pie. Zesty slices of lemon offset buttery pastry and a healthy dose of clotted cream.
Our bill came in at £20 a head (albeit with no wine), and for the price we felt we’d received a generous selection of inventive dishes that piqued our curiosity in a cosy space that invited us to linger. A welcome addition to the increasingly foodie Hackney Central.
Rawduck, 197 Richmond Rd, E8 3NJ