I don’t usually get to eat at places like Duck and Waffle at the Heron Tower, which at forty floors above ground is the UK’s highest restaurant. Reservations are hard to come by and the wine list is exorbitant, so the place is inevitably packed out with flash bastards who don’t mind spending at least £120 per person to get everyone’s taste buds tickled to buggery and properly wankered on fine wine. Fortunately, we were going with work, so I enjoyed the experience without a backseated sense of utmost financial terror floating around at the back of my head, which would almost certainly have ruined my appetite.
Of course, part of what you’re paying for is the sensational views across London. The lift ride alone is pretty spectacular, but make sure you ask for a window table when you make your reservation. I’d be fucking livid if I’d bothered to go all the way to the top of the Heron to sit with my back to that stonking view, but if the worst happens and you get stuck in a centre booth you can always go and appreciate the vista afterwards in the cocktail bar.
Duck and Waffle’s evening menu is a selection of small dishes that are served, tapas-style, for the table to share. I’d have found it hard to decide what to try with a small group, but there were six of us so overall we managed to sample a good third of the menu. We started with a couple of fresh breads – fresh porcini with goats cheese & thyme, and n’duja & gruyère, which is essentially chorizo and cheese baked into an micro-loaf of doughy ecstasy – and a couple of bags of BBQ-spiced crispy pig ears. Pig ears, spicy or not, are what I’ve always considered as Christmas dog treats, but these were more like pork scratchings’ upmarket cousins, light and shredded into crispy curls. They’re served in little brown bags stamped with the Duck & Waffle seal (disappointingly plastic, as we discovered when we tried to melt it over a candle later, but can’t have it all), which is fun and helps you forget you’re essentially eating a fiver’s worth of posh Frazzles.
I’d tweeted a Duck and Waffle chef earlier asking what his recommendation was in preparation. He said the spicy ox cheek doughnut was a special favourite, so I’d spent all day fantasising about this filthy meaty gourmet doughnut, only to be told on arrival that they’d run out and my ox-faced dreams would have to go unfulfilled. Instead, though, we had:
- Seared Scottish scallops with potatoes, mussels and Irish seaweed & saffron broth;
- Roasted octopus with chorizo, potato, lemon and capers;
- Raw yellowfin tuna with watermelon, balsamic and basil;
- Wild cornish pollock meatballs with lobster cream and parmesan;
- Foie gras crème brûlée;
- Bacon wrapped dates;
- Raw fillet of angus beef with truffle and pecorino;
- Jerusalem artichoke and truffle ravioli;
- Duck and waffle.
I didn’t try the foie gras because I refuse to eat anything, no matter how lip-smackingly delicious, that is the product of a bunch of French bastards torturing the living fuck out of some geese, but everything else on the menu was sublime. The scallops were just scallops, if I’m honest, and the octopus was so-so, but the raw beef was deliciously delicate and the pollock meatballs, by contrast, had the meatiest, most decadent texture, probably because they were bathed in lobster cream. The bacon wrapped dates were my favourite: sweet, salty, and perfectly balanced. The duck and waffle, which is served with a fried duck egg and mustard maple syrup, was odd but nice; incredibly rich and a bit of a gimmick, but worth trying. The ravioli was good but overpoweringly truffly, which I liked a lot but others at the table found a bit too much.
But the real star was the service, which even at dinner on a Friday night was absolutely faultless. At one point I dropped my knife and in the three seconds it took me to bend down and pick it up, a waiter had replaced it. Attentiveness did evaporate the second you left the dining room for the cocktail bar though, which is a shame. I mean, I know cocktail-making involves a lot of stirring and shaking and dicking around with about a million different ingredients, but a thirty minute wait to get a few basic drinks is ridiculous. On the other hand, the service went a bit too far in the lavatories; I looked on in amazement as a lady with latex gloves went into my cubicle after me, removed the first sheet of lavatory paper on the roll and sanitised the seat (!) If toilet seat herpes ever turns out to be an thing, fear not, you won’t be catching it at Duck and Waffle. It is, after all, a respectable establishment.
Overall, it was an incredible experience. The food, especially the pollock and the dates, was sublime, and the location can’t be beat. But save it for super-special occasions, and let me know how the doughnut is, yeah?
See the full evening menu online here (although the restaurant is open 24/7..!). Reservations essential: 0203 640 7310.
Address: Heron Tower, 110 Bishopgate, London EC2N 4AY
NB: Photos are shit because my phone is rubbish in low light and I didn’t want to look like a right knobber photographing my food in such a posh restaurant. Sorry about that.
Author: Emily Gibson
Emily is an urban adventurer, blogger and
glutton foodie on an epic quest to uncover the best things to eat, drink and do in London. She lives in East London and loves ceviche, cycling and magic shows. Lifelong nemeses include beetroot, beards and wine served in tumblers.