And if you don't like duck...?
When I sat down to write this review of Old Kingdom I couldn't help
but think of the immortal Basil Fawlty quote. And while there is a
(reasonably extensive) menu at Old Kingdom, we went there for one reason
Situated on bustling Smith St in Fitzroy, Old Kingdom's entirely unremarkable
exterior gives way to an entirely unremarkable interior. The single fronted terrace
shop houses two fairly cosy dining rooms, but not so bad that you're bumping elbows
with the next table. On this occasion we were ushered upstairs when our table was
ready (a few minutes after we arrived, but we were running uncharacteristically early).
The Old Kingdom experience actually begins well before you arrive. When making a reservation,
which is absolutely necessary for reasons I'll get to later, you are confronted with a question
I have never before been asked.
"Table for four, 8o'clock, name, OK....how many ducks?".
While it may seem odd if you're not expecting it, there's an extremely good reason. Old Kingdom's
specialty is its Peking Duck, and what a specialty it is.
Peking Duck takes many hours to prepare, first being seasoned and hung in the air for a
considerable time before being roasted. By requiring dinner guests to make an order in
advance, the kitchen at old kingdom can ensure that your duck(s) are cooked to perfection
at the time you arrive and are ready for them. In terms of quantity, I suggest a duck per couple,
although you could probably stretch it to three people (although you may need some entrees or
other dishes to share off the menu). That being said, a group of three near us went for a duck
each, I'm willing to bet they waddled home.
The first course is obviously the Peking Duck we know and love; thin pancakes, spring onion,
cucumber, plum sauce, and duck. All the ingredients are delivered to your table, the whole duck coming
last in the hands of a waiter with an extremely large sharp knife. Then the fun begins.
The duck is carved at the table, and you are then instructed on how to assemble your pancakes.
"One pancake only, no cheating, one piece each of spring onion and cucumber placed at quarter past
three, one piece of duck, sauce, fold top bottom, left. Done." From then on, you're on your own with
a mountain of duck occupying the center of the table.
Once your mountain has been replaced by a molehill (or an empty plate in our case). It is removed
and the next course arrives. A duck and spring onion stir fry with rice, this is made from the parts of the duck meat too close to the bone to be used in the first course. The meal is rounded off by a duck soup made from any bits of the duck still left over. This was actually my surprise of the night, an extremely pleasant way to finish the meal.
Old Kingdom is BYO, so I strongly recommend exercising that option, and while we did
order one or two things from the menu, the star attraction was surely the duck. You can
easily feed two people by ordering nothing else, if you don't have the appetites of the
Gourmet Husband crew then this would be my tip.
Duck.($55 per duck)