My cousin Maria wanted to try a new restaurant for our get together tonight, and since I had heard good things about it from my friend Susan, I decided to give Duke's Burger a try.
I felt like drinking wine with my burger, so I brought along a bottle of 1999 Torbreck Descendent. I had actually opened the wine at home to let it breathe, so I fully expected to drink it with dinner. When I got to the restaurant, however, I was informed that the corkage was a whopping $400! This is ludicruous, considering that they offer about 10-12 wines on their poor wine list, and there aren't really any good wines on the list in my book (other than a German Riesling). What they charge is equivalent to what a 5-star hotel would charge, and about the cost of 2 burgers on their menu!
Maria and I considered leaving the restaurant altogether out of principle. In the end I decided to stay and try out the burgers, but felt that I probably would not return in the future.
Just to be different, I ordered the Kurabuta (they can't even get the name right - it's kurobuta 黒豚 dammit!) pork belly and pork crackling burger. Maria chose the beef short ribs burger with foie gras. We also ordered the sweet corn and Parmesan fritters because it looked tasty at the next table.
The burgers arrived and we dug in. There was a fair amount of black pepper in the food, both in my pork patty and the fritters. The fritters were tasty, a wise choice on our part. As for my pork burger, well it wasn't bad. But it wasn't outstanding for the price. The marinated cabbage worked reasonably well with the pork, but the crackling was just way too hard. I could have chipped my teeth on the thing...
The Torbreck Descendent was a bit disappointing. Even with extended aeration, the wine never showed its power. I had fully expected that this wine, having aged for 9 years since harvest, to fulfill its potential. Maybe the vines were simply too young when the wine was made, even though it was made from cuttings of old vines. To be honest, the bottle of 2003 Torbreck Juveniles I had in Taipei a week ago blew this bottle away, and Descendent is meant to be a better wine.
Including the $400 corkage and a glass of wine, the bill came to $1,100 for two. Not exactly cheap, and with the wine service (or lack thereof) I'm not exactly dying to go back.