A month or so before I moved back to Tennessee last year, Duck's opened a location in downtown Swansboro. (Original location in Jacksonville, NC.) A couple weekends ago was the first chance we had to go. It is on the second floor of a dock side building overlooking the White Oak River filled with yachts, recreational skiffs, and fishing boats. Once you make it through the lack luster, vacant feeling, attempting to be upscale, 80s dining room you make it to the oddly carpeted deck, but the view is incredible!
We ordered calamari to start. After ordering, we heard the group next to us complaining about the texture. With a half empty bottle of wine on their table, I could tell they were simply trying to sound intelligent concerning their food. Their assesment of the calamari was that the breading and marinara were perfect but the calamari was overdone and chewy. Now, maybe they had a completely different plate than we did, but our calamari was cooked to perfection. While the breading was in the correct proportion, there could have been more flavor to it and it definitely could have been crisper. And the marinara... well, it was the quality of a good jarred sauce.
Louis had the applewood bacon wrapped sea scallops. Again, cooked very well. The bacon was crisp and the scallops were tender. The scallops were huge, but that didn't play their favor. The flavor was too diffused through the meat so the bacon flavor dominated in a rather extreme sort of way. Also, they were served with an absolutley gratuitous ramekin of gag-inducing clarified butter. The green beans were delicious though.
I wouldn't tell you not to eat here, but I won't be dining here again. The food isn't terrible, it is just unmemorable. The views are the best thing Duck's has to offer. After writing this review I am getting more upset than I was when I was at the restaurant. This location has all the potential in the world with a fabulous fish market less than a mile away and I know that fantastic local produce is available. Also, the decor... the bones are there; I can't think of a single excuse for the terrible design. The menu doesn't even need to be changed; the execution just needs to be perfected. (Maybe the original Jacksonville local has done that; it has been open for quite a while. So, at this point, I would not apply this review to that location.)
Actually, you know what? Don't eat here. Let it go under and make the space available for a quality restaurant with a chef that has the drive and ambition to create something spectacular.