Places To Eat In London: Duck & Waffle, Liverpool Street
Duck & Waffle, on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower near Liverpool Street Station is somewhere I’ve wanted to eat since I was a student in London, so it is apt that it is at Duck & Waffle I secured an early lunchtime table the day after my book launch party to celebrate my student cookbook with my parents. Open 24/7, it is not a cheap spot, but the food is absolutely sublime the views are incredible, and I can’t think of a restaurant I have been to in London in the years I have been reviewing them better for a special occasion.
Plan to arrive a little early so that you can enjoy drinks in the bar (though, our table was not ready until 15 minutes after our reservation time so another reason to have drinks – while this annoyed my Dad, I did not mind as it means they won’t rush you through your meal to make way for the next reservation!) We headed up in the glass lift at the tail end of their brunch service, so we sipped on mimosas while I pointed out all the London landmarks. Having gone to the type of schools where they gave you orange wedges to suck on at half time at sports matches as children, my Mother and I adored the touch of serving our perfect (freshly squeezed juice, good, cold champagne) drinks topped with a refreshing, chilled wedge.
The views in the restaurant are incredible. Yes, the restaurants at the top of the Shard have views this good, but I’m not really a fan of the food up there. Any table you get will have a view that is worth it, even ours in the middle of the restaurant. You can get the Gherkin, and across the river out to the East out of one window, Canary Wharf another, and North East London from the other.
We got down to business ordering a bottle of rose to share, then got down to business ordering small plates by way of a starter. The way the menu is divided is a lot clearer than our server was when asking how many dishes to order, so I’d recommend either getting bread to share for the table, a small plate each for a starter, a ‘for the table’ dish each as a main, and then a dessert each, or order three small plates or bread portions (assuming a ‘for the table’ dish is equivalent to two small plates) per person for the table to share, with a few snacks dotted in. This was the first small plate that arrived at our table: a sumptuous doughnut, coated with a fragrant smoked pimiento sugar, filled with piping hot, slow cooked ox cheek. Order this.
Here we have one of the most imaginative, and perfect restaurant dish I’ve certainly had in the last year, possibly ever: a creme brûlée of foie gras served with a piece of brioche, slathered with a tart marmalade and topped off with crunchy pieces of popcorned pork skin (like these sometimes on offer at The Compasses Inn in Crundale) – this was the perfect balance of textures, and the flavours married together in a way that was both interesting and indulgent. If you don’t have a problem eating a massive dish full of creamed foie gras, this is the best thing on the menu, and joins the raw langoustine at Bao Fitzrovia and Crispy, Sticky, Crunchy plate of chicken, squash and kimchee at Bala Baya in my ‘best dishes in London’ hall of fame.
My Mum kept the asparagus, served with a soft boiled pheasant egg gribiche and bath chaps (perfectly crisp and bursting with flavour) to herself, but I stole a bite and the simple flavours and quality ingredients (all of the suppliers at Duck & Waffle are listed on the back of the menu) were really allowed to sing. We also ordered the Pork & Apple Corn Dog, served with Chipolte Mayonnaise. The flavours were fantastic and the meat was rich and tender, paired beautifully with the smoky, punchy mayo. Not your average fairground number, deliciously light and flavourful, rather than being a fried monster!
There was some debate over which bread we were going to order to share. I wanted to get the Maple Glazed Cornbread with Harissa or the Charred Aubergine and Sumac Yogurt Flatbread thinking I’d miss out on something fun just getting the house bread with spice butter and sea salt, but look how it came! Light, fluffy, warm, chewy and full of Middle Eastern flavours, it was a generous portion, fantastic to share, and was fantastic both by itself and for mopping up the sauces from the doughnut and corn dogs, and the rest of my foie gras mousse when I ran out of brioche (because it was also too good to munch on just by itself!)
Moving on to the next course, we have Duck & Waffle’s namesake: the soft and tender buttermilk waffle topped off with a confit duck leg (where the meat was so rich and tender it just fell off the bone under the shards of irresistible crispy skin), fried duck egg, and served with a wonderful sweet/ savoury maple mustard syrup. Since discovering seasons 7 and 8 of Anthony Bourdain’s No Reservations are on Netflix I’ve been watching a whole lot more of him recently than is healthy, and as we sat down to this I had his distrust of signature dishes ringing in my head. Don’t. This is fantastic, and something else you simply need to try here.
Not one for big portions, my Mother ordered another small plate at the same time as our main: Charred Mackerel served with Apple, Curried Scraps, Cucumber and a Lime Yogurt. I only had a mouthwatering bite, but she’s still talking about this dish, and this is from someone usually not big on curried flavours.
Now, on to my favourite dessert. We did our usual, went for one each (my Mum and I also went for the suggested wine pairings), and Mummy and I swapped half way (as well as swapped our wine glasses). I started with – and enjoyed the most – the salted caramel choux bun with a smoked hazelnut cream. I’ve never had actual caramel choux before, and the dish was the right balance of sweet, rich, salty and crunchy. It also went perfectly with my favourite drink pairing, a 2010 Fattoria dei Barbi, Vin Santo del Chianti Classico from Tuscany that was sherry-like and really brought out the burnt sugar tones of the caramel.
Next we had the (super pretty) Baked Alaska, filled with a honey ice cream, a thyme and lemon jam and a buckwheat cream, served with a 2015 Vietti, Cascinetta, Moscato d’Asti from Piedmont, which was light and sweet, and went perfectly both by itself as a dessert wine, and with the dessert. The whole dish was delicious, but it was very sweet and I did not get much of a clean separation of flavours (the honey was lost on me).
Daddy had the chocolate fondant, served with a peanut butter ganache, vanilla ice cream and a praline crunch. We were pretty distracted by our desserts to be honest, but I did notice that the fondant was gloriously runny in the middle – utterly faultless on execution and presentation – one for Reeses lovers!
Our early (we only managed to get a table for 11:30 so skipped breakfast) lunch at Duck & Waffle was utterly fantastic, and was the perfect end to a couple of days celebrating the publication of Student Eats. Book well in advance (and I mean more than the three weeks I had the table booked for) and go to celebrate a birthday, graduation, anniversary or any other super special occasion that just needs that something extra!