Since I’m literally working next door at the moment, I decided to check out the bar before dinner. My heart sank when a guy at the bar told me, “Food is not the point here, check out the view!” Hell yea the view is absolutely stunning with the Gherkin glowing and the glittering city stretched beyond darkness. But food matters! So I relaxed when he said he’s never eaten here... shut up then.
The restaurant has a posher touch to it, a few half circle sofa booths and small marble tables. We were seated right by the open kitchen and were under a continuous attack of mouth-watering aroma. We decided to skip the conventional-looking items and ordered whatever sounded wrong on paper.
Scallop / apple / black truffle / lime
These looked like sushi perched on a solid block of pink crystal. So pretty...but!
The apple chunk was leaning more on the citrusy side than fruity, and so it killed the delicacy of the thin slice of scallop. The truffle wasn’t helping either, as it was deeply engaged in a battle with the lime juice, which probably felt clueless as to what it was doing there when truffle essence almost always dominates. Scallop itself wasn’t top notch, could have been better with a thicker cut to gel things together. All in all, it was disorganised.
I know a lot of people liked this dish, even the ones who didn’t like D&W liked this dish. I didn’t. Michal didn’t either. Olivia would have liked it better if more scallop replaced the apple.
Yellowfin tuna / watermelon / balsamic / basil
The meal only got better from here.
Pairing watermelon and tuna sashimi is adventurous and it totally worked. The subtle sweetness from the watermelon cube brought a refreshing dimension to usual fishiness of the tuna, and also more succulence. And whatever punch the fish and fruit was missing because it was somewhat watered down by juice, the balsamic kicked it all back in. The flavours were layered and composed; I was pleasantly surprised.
Shetland mussels & clams / n’duja / fennel broth / house bread
The mussels were so plump the meat fitted to the edge of the shell, cooked to en-point perfection the silky morsels were melting on tongue. Flavours were fresh with an underlying pungent heat from the fennel and gentle spices. The bread was unexpectedly gorgeous too, super crispy on the outside, encasing some seriously piping hot pillow-soft dough. We only wished there was more.
Spicy ox cheek doughnut / apricot jam
And it just keeps getting better. The deep fried doughnut was light and fluffy and absolutely greaseless, packed with shredded tender ox cheeks, oozing with meat juice. The sweet paprika powder dusted on the outside made it even more addictive. When dipped in the apricot sauce, which probably drove the sweetness a tad into an overkill, it was like a barbecue pork puff, but in a doughnut, and even better.
Foie gras ‘all day breakfast’
The constant wave of pan fried foie gras coming from the open kitchen was killing me.
‘Breakfast’ was toast topped with a healthy slice of crispy edged liver, brittle streaky bacon, small balls of deep-fried black pudding and a fried quail egg, all held in place by a thin layer of chocolate spread. The choc worked magic bringing the goodies together; took on the plum sauce role with foie gras, replaced the maple syrup job with crispy bacon, and enriched the flavours of black pudding balls. Top marks.
Despite the portion, it’s a pretty heavy weight dish that makes the traditional fry-up look too healthy. That said it was definitely worth that the extra gym-ing.
Battered sausages / mustard
The original plan was munchies with wine. These turned up right at the end of the meal after a gentle poke. Yea we know things come as they are ready, just hard to imagine how long these 4 dingy sausages could possibly take.
Once one has been hooked on the corn puppies at MEATmarket, these ordinary ones simply don’t make the cut. Next!
Duck & waffle / crispy leg confit / fried duck egg / mustard maple syrup
And here comes the wax seal.
I know others have complained about the duck being dry, but ours was perfect with crisp skin and tender, juicy muscles, almost like steamed chicken thigh-kind of tender. The egg yolk, the faintly gamey duck meat, and super fluffy waffle, all drowned in maple syrup with a mustard hint. Yes, drown, that’s how you’re supposed to do it, drown it dammit!
It was so freaking good; it was "the three of us stopped chatting and just kept saying ‘oh my god this is so good’" type of good. And it wasn’t the novelty of the combination; since I have had something similar in the States before, it was striking that balance between the sweetness of the syrup and the savouriness of the duck. Scrumptious, I loved it.
Warm Chocolate Brownie / peanut butter ice cream / crunchy caramel
They even nailed the desserts. Crumbly edges to the indulgent brownie with a moist chewy centre, paired with peanut butter ice cream. Who would say nay?
It was no doubt one of the more memorable meals I had this year in London. The food was quirky with sophistication and a touch of class to go with its location. We decided it was a great date-restaurant, the food sharing, the not-trying-too-hard ambience, unbeatable view, though I wouldn’t sit so close to the kitchen as we all ended up smelling like we had been cooking too. I’ve already put my next reservation in for 3 weeks time.
Whoever thought food was secondary to the view here at Duck & Waffle, think again.
Tel: 0203 640 7310