This weekend was a very special one in that it was TBH's birthday. Whilst he is quite happy to be dragged around to all the restaurants that I want to visit, there are also a couple of places on his radar that he would like to try. One being a burger joint and the other a restaurant with one of the best views in London. And so when it came to choosing where to take him, it was a pretty easy choice for me. A special place, for a special person on a special day.
Duck & Waffle is situated on the 40th floor of the new Heron Tower, in the City of London. The 'wow' factor begins from the minute you step into the glass lifts that are on the outside of the building. It travels at such a speed up to the 40th floor that your ears pop, but it’s worth it for the view that develops in front of your eyes!
Once up on the 40th floor it became a little confusing. You enter into a lobby with a number of different doors, but no sign of where to go. We eventually decided to take the lift 2 floors down to the sister restaurant Sushisamba, where they have an interconnecting staircase that links both restaurants. We were later told that the intention when they opened was to have everyone arrive on the 38th floor and then take the staircase up to Duck & Waffle, but this was before they knew just how busy they would be and how impractical this was.
When we made it to the bar at Duck & Waffle, we found a seat by a window overlooking the outside terrace and ordered a couple of drinks. I had a Roasted Cosmopolitan (£12.00) - Grey Goose Citron, triple sec, cranberry conserve and lime, roasted bone marrow seasoning. I was intrigued by the bone marrow seasoning, but unfortunately I couldn't really taste it. The cocktail was still enjoyable though. TBH had a Dark & Stormy (£12.00) - dark rum, lime, homemade ginger beer – bottled and bagged. The presentation was fantastic and it tasted great too.
We were taken through to the main restaurant and seated at possibly the best table in the house! We had views over Tower Bridge, the Tower of London and the Swiss Re building (The Gherkin). Absolutely breathtaking! The restaurant was packed and there was a nice buzz in the air. The open kitchen added to the atmosphere and I loved watching head chef, Dan Doherty, on the pass. There were lots of smiles coming from the kitchen and it was good to see.
The menu is split into four sections and is made for sharing - Starters & freshly baked breads, Raw, Small plates and Large plates. We decided to have something from each section.
First up we had bbq-spiced crispy pig ears (£4.00) and they arrived at the table in a brown paper bag. Think pork crackling seasoned with a smoky barbecue salt. I loved the presentation and the portion was really generous. A great start.
Our waiter also recommended bacon wrapped dates (£7.50) with linguiça sausage and dandelion salad. The contrast of the salty bacon and the sweet dates was really more'ish.
We also had spicy ox cheek doughnut with apricot jam (£8.00) from the 'Starter' section. The doughnut is dusted with more of the spice that the pigs ears are seasoned with and a little bit of sugar. This sounds like it shouldn't work, but the sweetness of the apricot jam and sugar offsets the rich ox check beautifully.
From the 'Raw' section we ordered scallop with apple, black truffle, lime (£8.00). This came served on a salt brick, which is very en-vogue at the moment. Our waiter told us to rub the piece of scallop on the brick to enhance the flavour. I've never had anything served in this manner before and over-did it on the rub the first time round, but learnt from that mistake and the pieces of scallop that followed were delicious. I loved the sharp green apple and lime flavour with the delicate scallop.
Next we had roasted octopus, chorizo, lemon and caper (£11.00) If you're squeamish, this is probably not the dish for you. TBH was almost immediately put off by the suckers on the tentacles and he really did not enjoy this dish. I thought the octopus was cooked very well, it was tender and I like the smokiness of the chorizo, but I would've liked more lemon and caper. The hints of lemon that I did get were so good, but there wasn't nearly enough of it.
From the 'Large plates' section there was really only one thing to have. Duck & Waffle, crispy leg confit, fried duck egg, mustard maple syrup (£15.00) Again, this dish challenges what you think should work and what shouldn't. The duck was crispy on the outside and juicy on the inside. The waffle was fluffy and light. The oozy duck egg adding a richness to the dish. We were advised not to pour the maple syrup over the whole dish, but I threw caution to the wind and did just that. It was delicious, the sweetness cutting through the rich egg yolk and duck.
It was only at the end of the meal that I realised we ordered absolutely no vegetables or salad. True carnivores!
After all of that there was no room for dessert, but TBH was brought a plate out with some fantastic marshmallows, dark chocolate truffles, macaroons and of course, a 'Happy Birthday' message. It was a nice touch.
In all honesty, I wasn't that excited about trying Duck & Waffle. I assumed that as with most restaurants with a view, the cooking would be an afterthought. But I am pleased to say that I was proved wrong. It is interesting and really challenges the norm. The prices are pretty reasonable too! We paid £143.44 for the food, 2 cocktails, 2 beers and 2 glasses of wine. Service was also included.
There are a few dinners with the girls coming up over the next few weeks, so....
Until we eat again!
Duck & Waffle
Heron Tower110 Bishopgate, London EC2N 4AY