Rumor has it that Duke’s is known for making seriously delicious chowder. They also have a fantastic happy hour, which is the basis of this review. Duke’s has several locations, Greenlake, South Lake Union, and Alki, each of them with scenic views. Normally, I’d be tentative to write a review based on a restaurant’s happy hour. It wouldn’t seem fair to judge the premier food at a restaurant with its simple happy hour snacks. However, when eating at Duke’s you can rest assured that their happy hour fare will stand up against their full menu.
I have to be honest about something. I kind of find the fisherman/beach theme a little tacky. But that’s just me; I just wanted to throw it out there. I’ve never even been fishing. Perhaps it’s some really cool fishing stuff. Regardless, it helps give the restaurant an overall comfortable feel. I found the staff to be really helpful. They were attentive to the needs of my girlfriend and me and made sure that we were comfortable at our table without being overly present.
Duke’s happy hour includes specials on cocktails and food, so when you go feel free to have a couple of “Duketails.” We drank the Strawberry Lemon Drop and Kamakazi. I know I should have been sampling a beer but it was such a nice day at the time I had to partake in the sugary cocktails.
It’s best to order and share several of the appetizers. Between the two of us, we shared the Dungeness Crab Dip and the Steamers. We also each ordered a cup of “Duke’s Award Winning Clam Chowder.” I have to admit at first I thought that we, or rather I, would have to eat again as soon as I got home. Turns out I was wrong. Although small, several little plates add up.
The Dungeness Crab Dip is served in a hallowed out sourdough bread bowl. The idea is to scoop out the dip and smear it on the sourdough bread slices and enjoy. The dip was nice and warm and you could definitely taste the fresh crab mixed in.
The Steamers, which are Washington Manila clams, are steamed in Mac ‘n Jacks Amber, garlic butter and dill. Granted, clams by themselves are not very filling, however this plate is huge and I definitely recommend taking some of your bread and dipping it in the broth.
Now for the clam chowder — it’s not exactly what you think of when you think of chowder. It’s creamy like the New England style but it’s not white. It’s also not red like the Manhattan version. Actually, it’s kind of brown or tan. Tan, blue or green it’s really good. It’s thick and flavorful and you can taste the bits of fresh clams.
So, this was Duke’s happy hour. As I said previously, I generally don’t like to recommend a restaurant based on its happy hour, simply because it’s one of the times where some tend to let their food slip. They focus more on drinks than food, so it’s really special when you find a place like Duke’s that does happy hour food right. And if their “snacking” food is this good I know we’ll be returning to try out their regular menu soon.