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Magnum and Stein's - And Dreadful Duck

St. John's is an agreeable city on the northeast coast of Newfoundland, the capital city of the province and arguably the oldest settled and continously occupied European city in North America. The people I have met on this short business trip (I am giving a speech at an oil spills conference) are warm and passionate, with a self-deprecating sense of humour.

But that isn't what this is about . . . it's about duck.

On the flight in, my seat mate -- who should know (I was sitting in executive class after all) -- recommended that I try a restaurant called Magnum and Stein's. Unfortunately, the advice was off the mark. It's not that the restaurant was bad. Not at all. But it certainly ruined the duck I ordered, indeed if it was even duck.

Perhaps I should have given the waitress fair warning. I adore duck confit and its melt-in-your-mouth richness. I order duck whenever it is on the menu, in whatever guise in which it is cooked. When prepared well, duck can be tender, moist and rich; when cooked poorly, it is simply bland. Magnum and Stein's duck unfortunately went beyond bland into that great and frequently occupied realm of unknown grey meats.

Restaurants really shouldn't tackle preparing duck recipes if they don't know what they're doing. If they do know what they're doing, and the duck just comes out less than perfect, then they should just throw it away. Because, and take this as a warning, we duck lovers are unforgiving and have long memories.

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