Duk has quite the reputation in Preston, a reputation for great food. Sadly, despite having lived in Preston for about 5 years now, I’d never got around to visiting, despite constantly saying I will visit, I will visit, I WILL VISIT!… I never did. Duk started in a cellar venue on Lancaster Road in Preston, and then opening another larger restaurant, DukPond near Winckley Square in Preston. I never got around to visiting, still! I suggested to friends “Lets visit DukPond for a tapas lunch one day this summer!”, still, I never got around to visiting. Then I spotted that Duk were relaunching their original venue as Duk Bodega, and after getting in touch I was given an invite to their opening week, entitling me to free “Wine Flights” for up to 4 people when visiting for tapas and pinchos (northern Spanish tapas, also popular in the Basque region, called pintxos there.)
After visiting Korova Arts Café and Bar in Preston for one of the Preston Tringe events, Sara and I headed over to Duk Bodega, excited to have some yummy foods. As soon as we got to the door of Duk Bodega, Sara commented that it smelled like a “tasty basement”, which would be an accurate description.
Inside, it’s all very warm and cosy, with yellows and terracotta colours, lots of cushions and generally lovely touches all over the place, it makes you feel at home. We sat ourselves down, and showed our invite to our fantastic waiter who asked us what wines we would like. We asked for a selection of three reds and three whites. The “Wine Flights” that Duk Bodega offer are three 50ml glasses of three different wines of your choice, but being the sort who is indecisive, having the waiter bring a selection was an easier choice.
He soon returned with a plate of complimentary pinchos and the wines. I asked him what wines there were, and as he noticed me trying to frantically take notes popped off to write a diagram with notes (pictured below) down for me, which was a lovely touch. On the row of white wines, left to right is a Spanish Albariño, a Spanish Rioja Blanca, and a Chilean Gewürztraminer. On the row of reds, from left to right is a Spanish Rioja Crianza, a Spanish Old Vine Garnacha and a Argentinian Malbec. I appreciate what Duk Bodega are trying to do with offering the Wine Flights, so that people can try a variety of different wines, however I wasn’t blown away by any of them. Some were nicer than others, and a couple of them I really did not like, and struggled to finish them. However, there is one wine on the menu that is special, I’ll come back to that later on in the blog.
The complimentary pinchos were Olives Mixta, Oven Dried Tomatoes and Ginger Chickpeas. We ate these whilst looking over the menu, deciding what to order. Duk Bodega have achieved something impressive with the olives, in that they got me to eat and enjoy olives, I usually hate them, but they have sprinkled some magic into these, and we both really enjoyed these. The ginger chickpeas were great, and chickpeas are another thing I would usually turn my nose up at, but I love ginger, and these chickpeas were really tasty, not bland and dry as I have experienced in the past. The oven dried tomatoes were something else, however! I would use the toothpick I was using to eat these to fend off the assembled hordes of Genghis Khan if needed. Thankfully, I only had to fend off Sara, not that I did, we shared them equally. Mostly equally…ish.
Whilst waiting for the tapas and pinchos we ordered to arrive, I got up to take a few more photos, including the above two of the deli counter with all the pinchos and examples of their cheese and charcuterie boards in them. This was making me hungry, but food soon began to arrive. It was at this point Sara and I worried we may have had eyes bigger than our bellies.
Bread, Olive Oil & Balsamic Vinegar
From the pinchos menu we ordered artichokes, balsamic mushrooms, bread with olive oil & balsamic vinegar and also biscuits with chutneys (which I seem to have forgotten to take a photograph of.) The artichokes tasted good, very little had been done with them, and this is a good thing, good ingredients don’t need much messing about with. The biscuits with chutneys, I really didn’t like, perhaps I should have asked what the chutneys were, one was apricot, and another was cherry. I have a hatred of cherries that will never change. The biscuits were also strangely sweet, however, Sara absolutely loved the biscuits and chutneys, so perhaps this is just down to personal taste. The bread was okay, but was overly done on the bottom, leaving a bitter taste in my mouth. The balsamic mushrooms were brilliant, though, they had a palate cleansing quality to them, which I would not expect from mushrooms in balsamic vinegar, but they really did.
Chorizo (left) and Pulled Chicken in BBQ Sauce (right)
Gambas Pil Pil
Chocolate Blood Sausage
The arancini were fantastic, I loved how gooey the mozzarella inside the risotto balls was, it ended up all over my face, but I didn’t really care. Chorizo is amazing stuff, I love it, and the chorizo at Duk was no exception. I’ve had pulled pork many times, done in an abodo sauce, but I didn’t know that chicken was something you could do in that style, turns out you can, and you can do it very well indeed. The fritto misto was mostly good. The batter was crispy and light, the prawn was so very succulent, the fish was delicious, the calimari wasn’t chewy, however I really couldn’t stand the green lipped mussel that was battered and deep fried. It was mushy and just unpleasant. I really don’t care for green lipped mussels anyway, I much prefer the smaller native to the UK mussels (though I understand they don’t lend themselves to being deep fried.) The gambas pil pil was lovely, and mildly spicy, plump prawns, cooked to perfection. The best dish for me was the chocolate blood sausage, this took me by surprise. I only ordered it out of curiosity, I hate black pudding, so I wasn’t expecting to like this, but I loved it, it didn’t have the texture of black pudding, which is what I don’t like, it was firm and chorizo like in it’s mouth feel, and the subtle chocolate taste really went well with it.
We didn’t manage to finish everything, so our fantastic waiter wrapped up some of our food so we had a doggy bag to take home, but we still had room for pudding, it’s a different stomach, don’t you know? So, we decided to order some churros to finish off the meal.
Churros in Cinnamon Sugar with Chocolate Sauce
After all the well presented tapas this was a huge disappointment. There was no love in this plate, no care. The chocolate sauce just looked thrown into the bowl, with smears up the inside of it, and the churros were all gnarled and the coating of cinnamon sugar was uneven. Some of them were coated in so much cinnamon and not enough sugar that the cinnamon was overpowering, and it felt like we were attempting the Cinnamon Challenge. Our fingers were coated in cinnamon, and after finishing it we couldn’t wait to go to the toilets to wash our hands.
On a lighter note, remember I mentioned about one wine that was something special? I noticed on their menu that they did a chocolate wine, and decided to be cheeky, and asked our waiter if we could have a sneaky taste if they had a bottle open. Thankfully they did, and he brought us over a pair of shot glasses with a mouthful of this amazing wine in it for us to taste. We wish we’d asked for this in our wine flights. It was amazing, Sara said it was like drinking a Black Forest Gateaux, I hate cherries, so I didn’t pick up on this, but the chocolate aromas and flavours was so very intense, I would like one of those novelty helmets, with two bottles of this chocolate wine attached to it, and straws coming from them to my mouth. That’s what I’d like for Christmas please, Santa.