If you don’t like heights then look away now as Duck and Waffle is situated on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower in Bishopsgate – which made us seriously excited about going for lunch.
I do love a good view, especially if it’s in London but our experience of restaurants at high altitude so far have been a bit plain Jane. In restaurants like Rhodes 24 or Galvin at Windows we found the food to be ‘safe’ but you certainly wouldn’t say that about the food on offer at D&W – not by a long shot.
The lift to Duck and Waffle is on the outside of the building allowing you to take in that fantastic view as you hurtle up at quite a speed. That is if you’re not my gentleman companion – who spent the whole time with his eyes shut repeatedly whining “Is it over?”
Once at the 40th floor we walked through the bar area which was very trendy and modern. From an orange staircase you had the most wonderful view of the Gherkin – a view like no other I’ve seen in London before.
We were then taken through to the restaurant and here’s the good news: we were seated by a window! Hoorah! But here’s the bad news: the window was totally steamed up and we couldn’t see a thing! To our luck and relief however – half way through our lunch the window completely cleared and revealed an incredible view of the Gherkin, the Thames, Tower Bridge – the lot.
The restaurant itself was a fairly small square shape so wherever you looked you could see clouds – making you feel like you were really high up. The restaurant is open 24 hours a day 7 days a week (I wonder when they sweep the floors?) meaning there was a relaxed atmosphere with a constant flow of people coming and going.
We started with the BBQ-spiced crispy pigs ears (£4) which were served in a slightly greasy brown paper bag. Once opened, the aroma was incredible and we couldn’t help but dive in. The spice rub left our fingers stained orange but oh my was it worth it, these were some seriously tasty ears. Just like pork scratchings but a little chewier – they were amazing.
The raw scallop, apple, black truffle and lime (£8) quickly followed (maybe a little too quickly). These were served on a block of Himalayan salt meaning you could season your own scallops by rubbing them against it. They were pleasant but there was a little too much apple which overpowered the delicate scallop and we couldn’t taste any truffle either.
Next up we shared a spicy ox cheek donut with apricot jam (£5 each). The rich ox cheek and the sweet donut covered in a spice rub was absolutely divine. The sharp tangy apricot jam cut through the sweetness perfectly. Meat donuts are my new favourite thing!
The Herdwick mutton slider, harissa and charred tomato jam (£5) was also delicious. The coarsely ground mutton with the sweet tomato jam was a winner.
The lamb cutlets cooked in a brick oven with smoked aubergine (£12) were served medium rare and were so tender they were a pleasure to eat. I could have done without the smoked aubergine though as it was a little overpowering and didn’t really work for me.
Next up was their signature dish, the duck and waffle: a confit duck leg, fried duck egg with a mustard maple syrup on top of a waffle (£13). Sounds unusual but it was a total triumph. The duck, which was cooked to perfection, was a great pairing for the sweet waffle and the even sweeter maple syrup. It was really exciting.
At this point we were getting full but decided to order some more food as we were enjoying ourselves so much. The rabbit rillettes, sourdough, beer chutney and pistachios (£6) was my least favourite dish only because I had a couple of mouthfuls with bone in them which was a tad offputting. Still, the rabbit tasted great and the lip smacking beer chutney tasted even greater.
The battered sausages with mustard (£4) had a crispy misshapen batter which when dipped into the tangy mustard was heavenly and addictive to eat.
We had eaten so much food that we could only manage to share a pudding – warm chocolate brownie, peanut butter ice cream and crunchy caramel (£7). It was an indulgent delight – and a great end to a really great meal.
The combination of exciting and unusual food with the fantastic views made for a truly brilliant lunch. The dishes are reasonably priced and you get generous portions for your money .The wine list is a little on the pricey side so do watch out but other than that, this is a restaurant that has got a big thumbs up from me – I ruddy loved it.