Duo Restaurant – The Best Martini in NYC

I have found the best martini in NYC. It is located in the delicious Murray Hill/Flatiron area, which houses Zero Otto Nove, Pure Food and Wine, and – now – Duo. Duo is owned by 2 Russian sisters whose family has a long history in the restaurant business. 
 The elegant, somewhat over-the-top space is done in purples, metallic and an ornate crystal chandelier. It is perfect decor for a bachelorette dinner. Duo is a New American restaurant that puts the focus on sexy, hip and trendy.
Case in point:
 Light up menus. Not Ipads, just plain old light up menus. Call me a sucker, but…these are kind of awesome. They make you feel like you are cooler and richer than you are. 
 And what’s wrong with that?
 If you like light, fruity drinks, start with the Pink Grapefruit Martini. Stoli, fresh grapefruit juice and mint combine in a tart but sweet drink that tastes more like lemonade than a potent drink. The mint adds an herby edge that keeps this from being too sweet.
 Of course, if you have really good taste, you will get the Double Truffle Martini. Vodka, dry vermouth, truffle juice, blue cheese and truffle stuffed olive. This is a drink for those of you who like the sharp taste of vodka, the clean, taste of vermouth, and the earthy, intoxicating taste of truffles. The truffles balance out the vodka’s astringent qualities, and make the vermouth taste lighter and more citrusy. The olive at the end is one of the best I have ever had. Juicy, briny, salty but not bitter, and stuffed with funky blue cheese and that deep taste of the truffles. This took over Pier 9 as having my favorite martini in New York. 
Pineapple Gazpacho was a fantastic amuse bouche. The pineapple retained its sweetness, but also tasted more tart than usual, picking up on the soup’s jalapeno and mild onion flavors. It was spicy(but not painfully hot), light and vibrant – the kind of thing that gets your appetite going. 
 Peppercorn bread. A bit cottony, with no discernible taste of pepper. Not an auspicious start to the meal, after the excellent drinks and amuse bouche. 
Luckily, the meal picked right back up:
Crispy Calamari Salad-frisée, bell peppers, shaved fennel, mango, yuzu Vinaigrette. 
The calamari was crisp and lightly breaded, with tender, thin cut rings of squid within. It tasted decadent but not at all heavy or greasy, with the lightly dressed salad adding brightness, the mango adding sweetness, and the fennel adding an lightness to the fried seafood. This is a perfect start to any meal. 
Poached Maine Lobster Salad -Avocado, cucumber, red and yellow peppers, jalapeño, champagne mango ‘caviar’
The generous portion of lobster was cooked expertly, until just BARELY done, so it retained it’s supple texture and exceedingly rich, buttery flavor. The smooth avocado echoed these flavors, the jalapeno added zip but not heat, and the mango brought out the brininess of the lobster, while adding a sweet, high note. The cucumbers and  peppers added texture to the mostly soft dish, making it a well conceived an executed one. This was the highlight of the appetizers, for me. 
Heirloom Tomato and Burrata Salad.
 If it is wrong to love this luxurious version of a plain old Caprese salad, then I don’t want to be right. The tomatoes were so sweet and juicy, the burrata so creamy and tangy and the balsamic so syrupy and sweet that it is impossible not to like this. Go on. I dare you. Try it and TRY not to like it.
Also try not to scratch your best friend with your fork while prohibiting her from getting the last of that slippery, fatty burrata. 
Sorry, Lauren…I’m sure that won’t scar. 
 At this point in the meal, we all got “sippers,” ingenious little cups made expressly for Duo that were filled with mixtures of fresh fruit and Grey Goose Vodka. They were some of the best alcoholic libations I have ever sampled – the pure taste of strawberry, litchi, or half a dozen other fruits, with absolutely NO alcoholic taste.  Though they were delicious, at $18 a pop, they were more of a novelty treat than a full on drink.
 Filet Mignon Carpaccio with Portabello Mushrooms, Artichokes and Arugula. 
Exactly what you want in a carpaccio. Beefy, full-on steak flavor in thin sheets, pounded so thin that they broke on the tines of my fork. Nary a shred of fat nor gristle in sight,just pure, juicy shreds of beef that delivered that unmistakable flavor of STEAK. Marinated portabello mushrooms doubled the umami factor, while artichoke hearts added a sharp flavor and the arugula salad was light and peppery. This was just a perfect carpaccio. The mushrooms truly pumped up the volume of this meal, leaving me more satisfied than if I had just been leaf with the beef and other vegetables. A drizzle of olive oil added fruitiness, and although it was an appetizer, it made a filling entree.
 The Roasted Vegetable Ratatouille was also above par. Uniform dices of squash, tomato, eggplant, onion and other vegetables were served in an elegant timbale that belied the hearty taste of the dish. The vegetables were all caramelized and sweet, and the textures melded so well – soft tomato, toothsome squash, melting eggplant. There were no discernible spices, making all of the flavor thanks to the varied and full flavors of the vegetables. 
Peach Cobbler with Roasted Peaches and Peach Gellee (unpictured). Get this. Just get it. The most buttery, crumbly pastry topping sweet, cinnamon spiked peaches that were yielding but not mushy and sweet not with sugar but with vanilla and their own sweetness. The gellee was like a grown up gummy bear, adding a whimsical touch to the plate, and the roasted peach was tender under a crunchy sheath of caramelized sugar. Like I said…just get it. 
 Hot Chocolate Cake, filled with Molten Chocolate Pudding and served with Toasted Marshmallow Topping and Chocolate Krispies.
Smooth and creamy chocolate, sweet marshmallow fluff, the slight crunch and pleasantly bitter taste of the krispies…There was NOTHING not to love here.

And really…there wasn’t. Sure, it is a bit on the pricier side, but you are paying for atmosphere and (excellent) service. The food is really much better than it has to be, since the drinks are so good, I would have been satisfied with eating pretzels all night. The lobster salad, filet carpaccio and peach cobbler were all so delicious that I would come back here for those, even without getting a drink.
Well, let’s not get ahead of ourselves.
*Note: My meal was paid for by the restaurant.  I was not paid or required to write a review, and my opinions are my own and, I feel, impartial.*

Duo on Urbanspoon


  1. Such a delicious night out! Totes stealing your pics when I get around to blogging this week 😉

  2. Fritos and Foie Gras says:

    @Sarah-what's mine is yours schweetie!

  3. Every bite was like heaven in my mouth. And the peanut butter dessert…oh don't even get me started.


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