Barbecue Duck Dinner Delights

On a recent Saturday night, I took the scenic trip from the South Fork to the North, for a pop-up dinner at The Lin Beach House in Greenport. If you have driven toward Orient before, you probably know the Beach House, though maybe not by its current name. The space sat, for a long time, unoccupied, on the spit of road that connects Greenport with the outer reaches of the North Fork. A white Victorian building that has appeared, at times, a little down on her luck, this old hotel is experiencing a rebirth.

The Lin Beach House doesn’t actually have a restaurant. What they have, instead, is a weekends-only bar, a shiplap-heavy space with minimalist accents and backlit art, wide booths tucked into recessed nooks, and a view of a sprawling porch. But, here’s the thing: I didn’t go for the bespoke space, crafted cocktails, or chic scene. I went for the food, because, on select weekend nights, Taylor and Katelyn Knapp, the team behind PawPaw, a Greenport pop-up (Taylor Knapp is also the brainchild behind Peconic Escargot), serve a barbecued duck dinner.

It’s $60 per person, but that doesn’t begin to explain how much actual food you’re getting for the price. I had also purchased a foie gras add on — $15 per person — which resulted in two stunning pucks of seared foie gras, atop thick brioche and a jam that reminded me of the prune Danish of my youth. That midcourse would have been worth the trouble in and of itself.

To start: rich duck bone broth, in which floated one perfect and spoon-dense matzo ball, flavored, of course, with duck fat. “What’s that herb?” my husband asked upon first slurp, but I knew from the onset. It was dill, the only herb that I can stand only in this one particular set of circumstances, in soup. For me, matzo ball soup is the ultimate comfort food, one evocative of my Jewish youth, and it’s hard to find a version that so clearly replicates memory. This one succeeded.

That was not the only starter, though. With the soup came a quartet of duck fat biscuits, accompanied by a heady, yet impossibly light, duck liver mousse. Fearing the inevitable non-hunger brought on by overindulging, we took a bite and asked for the remainder to go.

Besides the foie gras, there was that other main event, the actual duck. On half sheet trays, we were each presented with our spoils, half a duck per person. Not just any duck. A lacquered, local Crescent duck, which had been brined in seawater, smoked over cherry wood, and glazed with honey and wine. The result was a fatty, smoky, salty, crispy bird that I made no real dent in when all was said and done. That’s because it came with a tumble of potatoes, creamy gribiche, and tangle of collard greens with duck skin cracklins.

I rarely count dessert as my most memorable course, but the pop-up dessert from PawPaw was a thing to behold. Billed as a sundae, it was more like a parfait, the base for which was a mascarpone-rich duck yolk ice cream. I loved the pop of barely-poached cranberries, the decadent swirl of salted caramel, and the crunch of burnt honey. But I was most in love with the white meringue, cooked from duck egg whites and made, I presume, much in the way of Swiss buttercream, with eggs that have exploded in volume from air and heat and the tines of a whisk. That final moment — a pillow of meringue on top — was like the airiest, finest custard you’ve ever eaten.

For that moment alone, the ferries across the East End were worth it. It’s the parfait that dreams are made of.

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