A Taste of Duke’s Common Spirited Eats
Duke’s in Healdsburg is better known for its cocktails – as in Duke’s Spirited Cocktails, owned by Steven Maduro, Laura Sanfilippo, Tara Heffernon, and Cappy Sorentino. Yet Duke’s Common Spirited Eats, a new offshoot of the Healdsburg lounge, focuses on food. Sometimes it’s campy food, to be sure, like corn dog pops ($6) and disco fries with mushroom gravy, cheese curds, and scallions ($6).
But there’s also good cooking to be had in the rustic-chic Common. Chef Shane McAnelly (Brass Rabbit and Chalkboard of Healdsburg) created the menu, inspired by the “restaurant family meal.” That’s what a chef prepares for the staff before service, and often features ethnic, ultra casual, and quirky cuisine.
The place keeps a giggly mood, too, offering nifty games like Retro Battleship and Candy Land.
The look: Set in the former Scopa space on the Healdsburg Plaza, the shop is tricked out with rough concrete walls, high-top seating, pounded and rusted metal art, and window box planters on the walls. Long and narrow, the space gets crowded and loud, in that cocktail spirited way.
To eat: I’d come here just for the banh mi, a mouthwatering bundle of barbecue pork, pate, pickled carrots, daikon, cilantro, cucumber, and jalapeño mayo on baguette ($8). I’d also have to order the tacos, a duo of succulent Yucatan roasted pork shoulder, habanero marinated onions, and lime ($7). Both bites are authentically seasoned and addictive.
Tonight's Family Meal ($10) is often downhome comfort, such as crispy battered fish ‘n’ chips, or fried chicken with rich bacon gravy and mashed potatoes. But it gets inventive, too. One evening I enjoyed squid ink strozzapreti pasta tumbled with shrimp, white wine, garlic, red pepper flakes, and scallions, while on another I dug into rabbit sugo over creamy polenta with green olive pesto. The portions are just right — served in a smallish wood box or a plastic tub for a hearty snack to prep the tummy for more cocktails.
Things on a stick are always fun to eat, and the spicy, Shaoxing wine-marinated skewered prawns make my mouth tingle, thanks to pickled peppers ($8). I love the Asian bent on the marinated mushrooms as well, dressed with Kewpie mayo, furikake, and seaweed ($6).
Back on the whimsical side, the McChicken sandwich likely violates copyright laws, but it’s tasty, topped simply with spicy mayo and cabbage slaw ($6). I’m a fan of the falafel-ritto, as well, the hummus, tzatziki, tabbouleh, and pickled onions all rolled up cozy in a tortilla ($9).
To note: Duke's Common food is also served at Duke's Spirited Cocktails from
4 to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 4 p.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday.
Dessert: Cookie Of The Day ($2). Yum.
To drink: Wine and beer is fine, but the stars here are craft cocktails. For something powerful, Weekend At Bernie's mixes Alley 6 gin, Chareau Aloe Liqueur, citrus, Cointreau, and Absinthe ($10). For a milder quaff, the sangria is a pleasing mix of wine, booze, juices, and spices that changes daily ($10).Details: Duke’s Common, 109A Plaza St., Healdsburg, 707-431-1105.