Whether you’re fretting about where to take that cutie you’ve been crushing on in chem for a casual coffee date or looking for a romantic anniversary dinner locale, we’ve got all the details here. We hope you enjoy reading about these date destinations as much as we enjoy writing about them, and that you’ll give some of them a taste.
So in the spirit of this selection: kŏr hâi jà-rern aa-hăan!
Restaurant: Duck Walk
Hours: Sun-Thurs, 11:00 a.m. – 10:00 p.m.; Fri-Sat, 11:00 a.m. – 11:00 p.m.
Location: 919 W. Belmont, Lakeview
Getting there: A five minute walk from the Fullerton Stop on the Red Line
John discovered Duck Walk while travelling through Lakeview to Saki Record Store for a Maps and Atlases concert. This eatery is a streamlined Thai restaurant located near DePaul University. Its modern furnishings and flavorful food are a hit with DePaul students and Lakeview residents. Although a bit different from the Thai food we ate as children growing up in Lubbock, Texas, Duck Walk does Bangkok proud. The lengthy travel time to and from Lakeview, though, makes this restaurant a bit of a gamble.
Food (4/5)For whatever reason, Lubbock, our small Texas hometown, is home to a disproportionately large number of excellent Thai food restaurants. Apparently (see Sarah’s Food section) this is due to a regional difference in where our Thai food originated. That said, Sarah and I have yet to find a Thai place here in Chicago that either of us is crazy about. While Duck Walk may not be the Thai eatery of our dreams, it’s a step in the right direction in that it is actually a “Thai” restaurant, not pan-Asian. The food at Duck Walk is solid, but it came up a little short. I had the Thai Fried Rice with Basil and received a tasty, delicate dish built around that king of herbs. The dish has an ideal rice-to-mix-ins ratio with enough of each that I didn’t find myself desiring more of either. Basil is, obviously, the ruling flavor here, but the subtle spice of green peppers lent a lot to the dish; basil and heat go hand in hand, in my opinion. The heat wasn’t quite present enough for my taste, but a few spoonfuls from the pot of Thai chili at the center of the table sorted that out. All in all, the dish was definitely good, but it lacked the spark of greatness.
There’s not much to say about Duck Walk’s service. Quick and quiet, I hardly noticed their presence at all, except when my water glass neared the halfway point and a waitress would dart out to fill it. While some would argue this un-intrusive service is ideal, I find it kind of alienating. It’s nice to know your server is a real person, not just an anonymous, impersonal machine. Then again, Duck Walk’s staff gets the job done faster and more effectively than some of the more talkative waiters I’ve met, so maybe I shouldn’t complain.
The atmosphere at Duck Walk is contemporary and cool with every surface streamlined to a smooth monochrome. Some neat light fixtures hang overhead and movies are projected onto the walls from hidden lamps, which is a neat idea even if the selection was a little odd. However, it seems to me like Duck Walk is a little too preoccupied with its looks. Yes, it’s chic, but also well aware of its chicness, basking in its cool modernity. Duck Walk feels like it’s trying to look like some kind of hip club or late-night eatery, but something’s off. Maybe the crappy 90s music in the background?
Date Factor (3/5)
While Duck Walk’s Thai cuisine is certainly solid, I think this restaurant’s just got too much riding against it to be a feasible date spot. Somewhere between the 50-minute El ride to get there and the trying-too-hard-to-be-cool air of the place, the food isn’t quite worth it. I’d rather go somewhere closer and more memorable, or at least with food that’s better than just “good.”
Although the food at Duck Walk is perfectly decent Thai, its flavors are not what I am accustomed to. All the Thai restaurants in my hometown feature recipes from the Chiang Mai province, about 435 miles north of Bangkok. This predominately rural area is noted for its spicier and bolder interpretations of traditional Thai dishes. Because I was prepared for sharper and more acidic tastes, I found Duck Walk’s Goey See Me to be somewhat disappointing. This dish is the Bangkok equivalent of chicken noodle soup, although it can be ordered with chicken, beef or pork. A variety of Asian vegetables, small pieces of meat and rice noodles are suspended in a thick and hearty broth. The soup manages to be satisfyingly savory without becoming too weighty, and the extremely large portion was reasonably priced at $8.50. The dish was texturally imbalanced, but the rice noodles were the only offender. The rice noodles were surprisingly chewy and impossible to eat delicately. The Goey See Me’s vegetables were cooked but still slightly crunchy, and the chicken was well prepared. Although this dish didn’t quite have the punch I was expecting, its subtler flavors were a different kind of delicious than I expected.
The unimposing service at Duck Walk is adequate. I did not experience anything remarkable, either pleasant or horrific. Several small, timid Asian women bustled quietly about the restaurant, filling water glasses and carrying dishes to and fro. I never felt like a lab rat under observation; the wait staff provided enough distance for patrons to enjoy their privacy. Simultaneously, we were never neglected. The service at Duck Walk falls solidly into the average tip range; nothing more, nothing less.
Duck Walk’s sleek and modern furnishings make the restaurant an ideal dining locale for DePaul students. The classy but casual environment fosters an attitude that is both fancy and relaxed. Tunes of the 1980s, 1990s and 2000s play softly overhead, calling to mind the glory days of modern pop. I enjoyed this glimpse into another university’s student culture; Duck Walk has the familiarity of a chic college hangout but is different enough from the typical Evanston dining experience to be intriguing.
Date Factor (3.5/5)
Duck Walk is merely an average date place. Muddlingly mediocre in many regards, Duck Walk would be a much more appealing eatery if it were closer to campus. The lack of “wow” factor left me satisfied but not thrilled with my dining experience. That being said, Duck Walk is an adequate date restaurant. Check this one out if you and your sweetie happen to be in Lakeview; otherwise, save yourself the trip and dine somewhere else instead.
Duck Walk definitely has some things going for it, and if you and your sweetheart are in the Fullerton-DePaul area and want to grab a bite, it’s a great place to stop in. But there are too many good excuses not to pay Duck Walk a visit. This time the ride isn’t quite worth it.
If you've had an experience at Duck Walk or have any suggestions on where we should dine next time, feel free to leave us a comment!