Sunday, 2 September 2012

Duck & Waffle

If you follow the people I do on Twitter, you'll have heard an awful lot about Duck & Waffle. An awful lot indeed. It almost put me off going, so much were people wanging on about it, and then I realised that it must be quite good to generate such a buzz, and I should stop being so grumpy. 

My vertiginous friend and I gingerly stepped into the glass-walled lift that would take us up the 39 floors of The Heron Tower in Bishopsgate, to deposit us in the bar area. Orange-dressed women wafted us up a curved flight of orange stairs, as we stared agape at the view. Hello, London.

The restaurant itself was smaller than I imagined, with a open kitchen where you might want to watch the chefs at work. I'm unsure as to why you would, with the view before you; the three of us were mesmerised by it. Later, when it became dark, the fireworks of the Paralympics Opening Ceremony were visible. 

The head chef, Dan Doherty, was previously of The Old Brewery in Greenwich and we've long chatted over Twitter, though never actually met. He kindly sent us some crispy pigs' ears (£4), spiced with barbecue flavours and served in a paper bag with a wax seal. These were chewy and salty, nicely spicy, sometimes crunchy. They were seriously addictive, and possibly better than tooth-shattering pork scratchings. Maybe. 

We'd given this burrata, served with pickled pink onions, capers and leaves (£9) a good poke by the time this picture had been taken and it spilled its contents all over the place. The bland creaminess paired with the sharp, peppery salad was a delight, and I wished we'd ordered some bread. 

An oozy Scotch egg was jazzed up with using smoked haddock (£6) instead of pork, and served with a curried mayonnaise. This was pleasant enough but a bit on the salty side with a slightly chewy crust and I wondered whether anything really could beat pork wrapped around an egg. 

Bacon-wrapped dates with dandelion salad (£7) was a flavour bomb. The dates were actually stuffed with a spiced sausage before being wrapped in bacon, so it was pure meatiness with some background sweetness. I really enjoyed this - it needed the bitter dandelion salad to help you along the richness - and you couldn't really eat more than one.

Mussels & clams with 'nduja and fennel broth (£10) was served with the house bread. Puffy and soft, we alternated between using this for the burrata and the shellfish juices, and it soaked them up like a dream. The mussels were small and sweet, the broth meaty and moreish. I wished more of the clams were open. Octopus braised with chorizo (£11) was smoky and tender, a generous portion.

Ahh the eponymous dish, the duck & waffle (£13). It sounds awful on paper; confit duck leg? Egg? Waffle and maple syrup...? But actually it was freaking delicious. The more mustardy maple syrup I drenched on it the better it was. It's a sharing dish, due to its richness (3 of us shared it) but what a dish it is, and well worthy to be the star of the show. 

Desserts for me are usually an 'oh fine, if everyone else is', and it is not often I get excited about them. However, the torrejas with maple caramel apples (£7) was ordered for us to share and glad I am we did too as it was one of my favourite dishes of the night. The torrejas was a brioche-like French toast type thing, soaking up the maple apple juices. It smelled amazing, and tasted as such with the ice cream tempering the sweetness of it all. 

Service was friendly and attentive throughout, and the room was nicely buzzing without being too noisy. There was a good mix of couples and friends dining with no sign of the braying suits that SushiSamba a couple floors below is reportedly plagued by. I loved Duck & Waffle quite a lot and we all tripped out of the elevator headed homeward and grinning. 

In the interests of full clarity, the kitchen were very generous and we were unexpectedly sent a few complimentary dishes. We paid for the rest. My full Flickr set of the meal is here

Heron Tower
110 Bishopsgate
London EC2

Tel: 0203 640 7310


Explody Full said...

This is just around the corner of our house! I am totally checking this out next weekend. The view looks amazing and the food looks sooo good

Shu Han said...

Yes I have heard everyone gushing about d&w and now you're one of them too. Not going to grumble, the dishes do look fab. Hope to visit it one day soon when I get back. And even better, you went on the day of the paralympics opening ceremony! fireworks do kind of go well with confit duck legs and waffle and maple syrup ;)

Shu Han said...

Yes I have heard everyone gushing about d&w and now you're one of them too. Not going to grumble, the dishes do look fab. Hope to visit it one day soon when I get back. And even better, you went on the day of the paralympics opening ceremony! fireworks do kind of go well with confit duck legs and waffle and maple syrup ;)

Chris Pople said...

Really happy you liked it as much as I did. These guys will have a hard time fighting their own corner against the city-boy mentality, the tall-restaurant syndrome, the fact that Sushi Samba are just underneath being shit and harming them by association.

But (wine list aside) they are doing good things for not much money and they deserve to do well.

Tang said...

I agree with Chris that the restaurant is trying hard to get rid of the 'sky high price' impression. They have done a great job at getting the menu and price right (didn't see the wine list so cannot comment on that).

I really enjoyed the food there, especially the pig's ears, octopus and D&W. The scotch egg was nice but I think I prefer sausage meat than fish. Must go back soon!

Ginglesnuff said...

Oh yes, this is definitely going on my List. I didn't realise that Duck and Waffle was more than just a quirky name and it sounds delicious! My List never seems to get any shorter...

Su-Lin said...

Oooh, of all the place that have opened recently, this one sounds the most interesting (ok, also because chicken and waffles are one of my favourite things and duck sounds just as good). I gotta go.

Ru said...

Do you think it's worth going for just a cocktail and a pudding?

TomEats said...

Hmmm - seems to be a universal "hell yes" for D&W from everyone. Which is great as it is pretty cheap and got a kick ass view. Glad to hear and looking forward to get in when back in London.

Now time to comb the rest of yours, Chris', GTraveller's, and Kang's blogs for other recs.

Hollow Legs said...

explody - yes, do go! I would be there all the time if Iived near.

Shu Han - Fireworks go very well! Do try it.

Pople - that's fine, the city boys can keep sushi samba and we can keep D&W!

Tang - Yup, looks like we loved the same things. Definitely want to return to try more.

Gingle - I suffer the same problem. Definitely check this one off ;)

Su-Lin - Do go. I've never had chicken and waffles, sounds like it's what i need to try next!

Ru - Well, you could but I defy anyone to resist that menu.

TomEats - Hell yeses indeed! You must have quite the list of places to visit.

Jonathan said...

Sweet Jesus. Those crispy pigs ears look insane. Thank goodness they are safely out of reach up a big tower otherwise I could be in trouble.

Anonymous said...

The octopus was a standout dish man... It was so friggin tender and smoky!

Anonymous said...

The octopus was the standout dish to me! I ne'er knew they could be that tender and crazy smokey!

Hollow Legs said...

Jonathan - They were excellent. And the lift just shoots you up there! DANGER.

+65 - So good, huh? But still. Pigs ears. Mmm.