I am a horrible morning person. I am actually writing this from the edge of my bed at the crack of dawn just so I could really capture things in medias res, and the upshot is that I am deeply regretting taking up the #EarlyBirdChallenge and making a 7am reservation at Duck and Waffle, London’s highest 24 hour restaurant. My brain feels like it’s been dunked in battery acid and then used to bowl over ninepins stuffed with furious, bitey possums. My eyes are puffy, my teeth feel grim, my breath probably smells like warm balls and something quite dreadful has happened to my hair.
I’m aware that we all have to wake up every morning at some point, but somehow it is so much worse at 5:30am than 8:00am, which is when I usually drag my sorry ass out of bed. (To the true early risers who are tutting away because they usually get up at 5:30am, imagine getting up at 3am. Suffering is relative, after all.) Eurgh. Excuse me while I begin the long and arduous process of making myself look acceptable to the outside world.
We face about 25,000 mornings in our adult lives, so how should be make the most of them? This is the premise of Free Office Finder’s #EarlyBirdChallenge, which has taken it upon themselves to get everyone up and doing a bit earlier than usual. And ‘usual’ for me is tearing out the door at 8:50am, cycling to work like a maniac and smearing make-up all over my sweaty mug in my bathroom breaks. After work I either rush out for dinner or drinks elsewhere in London, go to the gym (does not count as leisure time), or go home where I spend the evening slobbing around in my men’s Batman lounge pants (pyjama-makers, if you’re reading this, please start making bottoms for tall people. Thanks.) No wonder I, like the 61% in a recent study by The Telegraph, feel like I have no free time at all.
So to force the benefits of early rising upon myself, I make an early reservation at sky-high posh nosherie, Duck and Waffle, which meant I had to get up at 5:30 eh em. I’m not going to lie, it was painful to start with, but by the time I’d arrived I was actually feeling rather good. Chipper, possibly. It was a crisp morning with a little fog, and I felt slightly ashamed cycling through the hordes of besuited City workers who had clearly been up even earlier.
I arrived at the Heron Tower (home also to Sushi Samba) to meet Hannah, fellow foodie and oldest friend. We were bit disappointed that it was foggy and the view wasn’t as spectacular as it could be, but such is Britain. If you’re a meteorologist or have a knack with a crystal ball, try to pick a clear day.
To get to D&W you need to walk first through their cocktail bar, which at this hour was deserted. I have been in the evening before though and it is a cool place to go for a drink; the bar is inside-out so you can see the mixologists up-close, but the service ain’t exactly what you’d call swift. (And obviously the cocktail prices are as high as the bar: about £15/drink. Oof.)
I did consider getting a Friday morning tipple (Marmite and Guinness Black Velvet, anyone?), but frankly I’d broken enough new ground with the 5:30am wake-up call and decided to leave the early morning drinking to the professionals. I did, however, get a very nice pot of peppermint tea in a monstrously ugly teapot.
We did order a LOT of food, which more than made up for it. Hannah went for the actual duck and waffle, which comes with a fried egg and a side jug of maple syrup. It’s an incredibly rich breakfast item, but when in Rome, right?
I chose the slightly less decadent ox cheek eggs Benedict, which was superb. The Hollandaise sauce was glorious – how I imagine the fat run-off would taste if angels ever got lipo – and the ox cheek was soft and velvety, topped with a pair of perfectly poached organic eggs.
And we ate all of it. Bwahaha. *bulges*
The restaurant feels nowhere near as extravagant at breakfast time as it does for dinner, although you’ll still spend around £25/head, which is a lot for first thing in the morning. That said, there aren’t many places to enjoy London from on high at 7am, so I’ll let it off. Obviously, it goes without saying that you ask for a window seat when you make your reservation.
We left the building at 9:30 feeling brilliant. Normally at that time I’d be at work bolting down a mug of microwaved scrambled eggs, so it was quite a novelty to have done something productive already (er…had a posh breakfast and caught up with a mate). I cycled home, boshed out a blog post, got my hair cut and went to work for a half day. I spent the evening having drinks with some school friends. Admittedly I was about ready for the knacker’s yard by 11pm, but I was in the BEST MOOD all day. Like, so cheerful it was visibly grating on everyone at work and I could tell they were excited to be shot of me for a whole weekend by the end of the day. I’m going to try and make a habit of it.
What time do you normally get up at? If you’re a lazy arsehole like me, you should try the #EarlyBirdChallenge yourself! You can find out more here.
Duck & Waffle can be found on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, EC2N 4AY. Breakfast for two including service costs £20-30/head, assuming nobody is brave enough to order a cocktail. You can find the full menu online here.
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 Islington and loves ceviche, cycling and magic shows. Lifelong nemeses include beetroot, beards and wine served in tumblers.