State In The Real – Penn State Music Scene

Great Music Meets Even Better Food At The Duo Restaurant

Those of us immersed in the State College nightlife are all too familiar with the glamor of the Duo Nightclub. The spacious, dance-hall like structure is quickly becoming one of the hot spots of State College. With its modern setup, good music, and cheap drinks, it’s likely to stay that way for a while.

The Duo Restaurant's Wonderful Staff

Directly beneath the nightclub is a lesser-known but equally notable establishment, the Duo Restaurant. Its atmosphere is a perfect counter to the wild party above, as it’s set up like an upscale New Orleans eatery. State In The Real had the opportunity to enjoy a delicious dinner at the Duo Restaurant over the weekend, and it was a immensely pleasant experience, to say the least. Check out our photos and reviews below, and make sure to check the place out for yourself!

Monica & The Cooks

Monica: I really liked the whole ambiance of Duo. I had no idea it was a Cajun, new Orleans-themed restaurant until I walked in. We were waited on immediately with great service, right next to the live music which I LOVED. The bluesy-jazz music was perfect for the restaurant and they were really awesome. The food was phenomenal. I had such a hard time choosing! The loaded baked potato perogies were an invention of the manager’s and they were sooo good. I had the fried eggplant for dinner and it was so delicious. I don’t normally like eggplant dishes, but the cook, who came out and introduced himself and his New Orleans background, did a phenomenal job. The desserts were delicious, too. I LOVED the caramel pretzel brownie. That was to DIE for! Our server, Chelsea, was very attentive the whole night and made dinner such a pleasant experience. I’m so happy we got the opportunity to have dinner there. I’ve been telling all my friends about Duo and am definitely taking my parents there when they come to visit next! If you like Cajun food (especially alligator tail!), come check out Duo to have your taste buds blown.

Fried Eggplant

Johnny: It’s not often you find the perfect place to take your parents for graduation dinner. I especially didn’t expect it to be under one of my favorite places to let loose in State College. Aside from a little layout troubles (a bar on the dance floor) Duo Night Club is one of my favorite places to break out on to the dance floor. The thing about this downtown dancing venue is it lives up to its name. Duo’s second half is just below your tapping feet. Their traditional Cajun style restaurant has a great New Orleans vibe, and it’s not by accident. We got a chance to meet the infamous head chef of Duo, Johnny, who hails from the Mardi Gras City itself. After a chat with him, it wasn’t as difficult to find room for more food. Their homemade desserts, down to their fresh ice cream, are phenomenal. The service is very friendly and Chelsea even had the perfect beverage recommendations. The bar manager, Ashley, created all the alcoholic concoctions on the menu, and I have to recommend the Gingerbread Martini for those with a sweet tooth. The dishes are sensibly priced and proportionately appropriate. If you haven’t tried this venue for a classy night out, you’re doing yourself a disservice.

In Which Topher Noms

Topher: As a lover of all foods Cajun (or spicy food in general,) I was pretty well expecting that I would enjoy having dinner at Duo. However, the experience exceeded my expectations in multiple ways. The first thing that grabbed me was the atmosphere. Something about the murals on the walls, the friendly greetings from the staff, the live blues music that greeted my ears as soon as I walked in, and the ambiance in general just gave me the vibe that I was about to have a great time and enjoy something a little different from the State College norm.

I was more or less sold when I sat down and realized what an awesome beer selection they had (that goes a pretty long way with me.) But to top if off, our waitress did an awesome job of helping me pick out something I’ve never had that suited my tastes (I get pretty indecisive.) After the drinks came the food. Good God, the food. We started off with the seafood stuffed mushrooms and bacon stuffed perogies (which was apparently a recipe handed down from the Front House Manager’s mother), even though I hate mushrooms and Monica hates bacon. I managed to set my preconceived notions aside, and both dishes were delicious. For my entree, I selected the catfish with collared greens and red potatoes. I’ve never had collared greens before, and I’m still not completely certain what they are, but they (along with the rest of the dish) tasted absolutely incredible.

Our Delicious Desserts

After haggling over which desserts sounded the best, we decided we’d all share the chocolate pretzel covered brownie, the wild berry cobbler, and the bread pudding. After a bite of each, I asked the waitress to take my fork and plate away, but I just kept picking at them with whatever utensils I had left. The rest of my memory from the evening is a sugar-induced delirium filled with smiling faces, full bellies, high fives and blues music.

There’s plenty of good food, music, and service in State College. But Duo has definitely upped the ante by bringing it all to the same establishment. I’ll be back very soon.

Chris: Duo’s clean-cut menu is emboldened with the letters “The Joy Of Living,” and with the experience I had there, I could definitely say that’s an accurate statement. From the moment I stepped in, the place had an inviting feel, its New Orleans-themed look and pastel colors intermixed with warm lighting and the smiling faces of the staff. Seated at the neat, tidy table, we were presented with a full beer and food menu, and I had the pleasure of enjoying a wide variety of delectable drinks and delicious dishes.

After wetting my throat with some crisp water (with fresh lemons!), I ordered a dark, smooth Samuel Smith Oatmeal Stout. It wonderfully completed the baked potato perogies and seafood stuffed mushrooms we ordered for appetizers. The perogies were to die for, with the blend of cheeses, spices, and bacon melting together perfectly in your mouth. I had never experienced seafood-stuffed anything prior to this, but I’d say that those seafood mushrooms made me a HUGE fan. The mushrooms were juicy, and the filling had just the right amount of that seafood kick (without being too fishy).

Chicken Cordon Bleu

I ordered the chicken cordon bleu for dinner, and it turned out to be the perfect choice. The presentation was fantastic, the chicken breasts were panko-encrusted and moist, and the mouth-watering stuffing hit the spot. I’m a devout lover of cheese, so the provolone, cheddar, ham, and mozzarella insides satisfied all my cravings, while the creole mustard cream added another great layer of tastes to the dish. I enjoyed a apricot wheat beer while I was eating, and this made the entire experience pure bliss.

I thought I was full…that was, until I read the dessert menu. Pretzel topped, caramel-drizzed brownie? Yes. Flavorful, wild berry cobbler? Of course! Sweet, fluffy bread pudding? Bring it on! The four of us shared the three desserts, and by share, it was more like fight over who could eat the most of all three dishes (at least on my end anyway). When it was all said and done, I was in a euphoric food coma, warm and happy. I came to Duo expecting a solid meal, what I got was a grade A experience all around.

Talented Musicians Play During Meal

Not to mention, our meal was beautifully soundtracked by esteemed musician Gene Gibson and company, as Gibson’s melodic rasp wafted over the tables. The bluesy guitar and bass melted into the soft conversation, and the gentle acoustics seemed to further deepen the good food and great vibes. In particular, his cover of Louis Armstrong’s “What A Wonderful World” met our ears just as we were diving in to our desserts, bringing the entire experience to an entirely appropriate and warmhearted finale.

I will most certainly be back to Duo Restaurant again, and plan to bring my family there when they come for graduation. State College has some decent restaurants, but Duo definitely comes out on top as the best of the best. This is the perfect place to bring the parents, bring a date, and especially to enjoy an amazing meal.