Name: Duck and Waffle
Where: 110 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AY, www.duckandwaffle.com
Cost: The average food spend per person is around £45 not including drinks. The All-day menu at Duck and Waffle is divided into snacks priced £3 - £5, freshly baked breads £6 - £7, and small sharing dishes £10 - £14; Large plates are priced £14 - £18 and large sharing dishes for 2/3 diners are priced from £35 to £40.
On the beverage front, Duck and Waffle offers a range of cocktails at £14 while the wines are available by the 125ml glass from £7 - £13.50, a small selection of 400ml carafes from £20 - £43.50 and bottles come priced £33 - £79 with many finer and sparkling wines rising considerably above that mark.
About: Located on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower on Bishopsgate, Duck and Waffle is the highest restaurant in the London skyline, offering the most spectacular views of the city in a buzzy but easy-going setting.
The menu, developed by the group executive chef Dan Doherty and executive chef Tom Cenci, combines traditional British cuisine and flavours from around the world with their own modern, unique interpretation.
The restaurant is open 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, taking you from breakfast through to brunch, lunch and dinner with different menus for different times of the day though an All Day menu is also available.
Duck and Waffle attracts a variety of diners, from city-types to foodies and visiting tourists, who come for the creative, gutsy cooking and the amazing London views.
What We Ate: We started our meal with two signature D&W snacks – the first was a very posh version of ‘devils on horseback’ a British classic (£3.50) - juicy medjool dates filled with sausage, wrapped around crispy bacon rashers and served on grain mustard sauce. These were utterly delicious – sweet and savoury, juicy and but meaty, these dates are a must for any meal or bar visit to Duck and Waffle.
Our second snack was the equally appetizing barbecue-spiced crispy pig ears (£5) - cut in thin strips, they were super crunchy and savoury, served in a brown paper bag closed with the Duck and Waffle seal. The pig ears were so very moreish and I've been craving to have them again.
Next we moved on to one of the freshly baked breads, our choice was the charred baby aubergines with sumac yogurt and fresh coriander on flat bread (£6). The bread was crispy on the outside with a pillow-y centre while the sweet, soft aubergines were well complemented by the spicy yoghurt and herbs.
The highlight of our dinner however was the delectable foie gras crème brulee served with a small brioche topped with weightless crispy pork crackling and chopped chives (£13). The crème brulee was luscious, silky and rich with the distinctive flavour of foie gras and a crunchy top caramel layer, while the brioche was light, buttery and fluffy (as all good brioche should be). The crackling added texture and flavour to this winning dish.
A hot mini cast-iron pan of baked haddock covered in rich lobster cream and parmesan crumble (£12) was our next dish. The flaky haddock and creamy lobster sauce were utterly delicious with the generous Parmesan crumble adding extra umaminess and texture. Another faultless and indulgent dish.
We proceeded with a cooling salad of grilled octopus, with raw fennel, lemon, red chilli and a refreshing green herb sauce (£13). The octopus was succulent and well paired with the zingy dressing.
We also could not resist the corn on the cob with jerk mayo and toasted coconut (£8). Nicely presented on corn husks, the sweet corn was soft while the jerk mayo and coconut flakes adding texture and flavour.
Finally, our meal came to an end with a sharing plate (2-3 persons) of roasted whole seabass (£36), with potato and samphire ragout, radicchio leaves, oyster emulsion and pickled seaweed. The seabass was large and rather meaty, accompanied by the heavenly potato and samphire ragout which was rich with butter and herbs. The silky oyster emulsion, radicchio and tangy seaweed added extra interest and textures and the whole dish was another triumph, one of the best plates of fish I have ever tasted.
What We Drank: Richard Woods, Duck and Waffle's head of spirit and cocktail development, has created a summer cocktail list entitled Urban Foraging versus Urban Decay. As the name suggests the cocktails use ingredients foraged in the city or discarded in our daily lives.
We started our evening with an Urban Foraged Woodland Negroni (£14), a concoction of "damp gin", Campari, sweet vermouth and formica rufa (red wood ant!) infusion slowly dripped through layers of "nature". The tumbler with the familiar flavours of gin, Campari and vermouth was served on a bowl filled with a patch of grass, perhaps referring to the layers of "nature" among the ingredients. Apparently, formica rufa has a flavour reminiscent of lemon and lime with a touch of lemongrass but the overall end result had the intriguing scent and taste of musky garden foliage.
Our second cocktail was a less adventurous Meadow Spritz (£14) from the Urban Decay list. We found this to be a refreshing mix of Bombay Sapphire "Spring" gin, aspargus ends, cut grass cordial, preserved elderflower, verbena and citrus with an iced orange peel garnish. The lightly carbonated drink with elderflower and citrus tones had a slight hint of grass and asparagus but was perfectly cooling and refreshing.
To accompany our meal with ordered a bottle of 2012 Dog Point Chardonnay, Marlborough, New Zealand (£67). A bright yellow colour with golden hues and an intense nose of citrus fruit melded with brioche, minerals and gunflint, this rich chardonnay had a fine balance between sweetness, acidity and minerality with a long finish. An excellent Chardonnay and it went really well along with our meal.
Likes: We enjoyed the wonderful views and excellent service but most of all, the food served by Duck and Waflle was outstanding. We loved the dates wrapped in bacon, the crispy pigs ears, the foie gras crème brulee, the haddock with lobster sauce, the whole baked seabass with the heavenly potato and samphire ragout…
Verdict: I cannot believe this is my first visit to Duck and Waffle – I have always disregarded it as a place for tourists or flashy City types, but how wrong was I! In addition to the spectacular London views, the cooking is highly creative, gutsy and faultlessly delivered. These guys really know what they are doing and I cannot wait to return. Very highly recommended.