Duck & Waffle may not be the ideal place for vertigo sufferers but it's not just the amazing views of London that make the restaurant worth a visit. Kerstin Kühn reports
Restaurants with a view may be aplenty in London but none can compete with that at Duck & Waffle. Located atop the Heron Tower in the heart of the City and accessed via a glass lift that speedily whisks diners to the 40th floor, the location may be scary for those suffering from vertigo but the wow factor is undeniable. Not only are you looking down onto the Gherkin, you can see all the way from the Olympic Park in Stratford to Battersea power station in south London and everything in between.
The restaurant opened back in August as the second venture from US group Samba Brands Management, which also runs Sushi Samba on the 38th and 39th floors. The kitchen is headed up by Daniel Doherty, who joined Duck & Waffle having previously worked at the Old Brewery in Greenwich, the Empress in Victoria Park, and the Ambassador in Exmouth Market, all in London.
open all hours
Inspired by "broad European and British influences", the restaurant is open 24 hours a day serving an all-day menu from breakfast through to dinner and a reduced late-night menu from 2am to 6am.
"At the moment we're open 24 hours from Wednesday to Saturday and we serve between 50 and 60 people a night between midnight and 5am," says Doherty. "It's been quite interesting to see who comes in during those hours - it's not at all drunken revellers, as you might expect, but mostly people coming in to do work."
During normal business hours, the à la carte is divided into five sections: snacks & breads, raw dishes, small plates, dishes from the brick oven, and larger plates for the whole table. Doherty recommends ordering around three to five of the small plates between two people before moving on to a large plate and dessert.
Things kick off with the delivery of a brown paper bag that turns out to be filled with deliciously moreish barbecue-spiced crispy pig's ears (£4), which Doherty brines for a day, then slow cooks in stock for four hours and fries before seasoning with sugar, paprika, herbs and spices.
Among the raw dishes popular choices are scallops with apple, black truffle and lime dressing (£8), and mackerel tartare (£6).
"The mackerel is cut to order and marinated with pickled cucumber, shallots and smoked vodka and served with crème fraiche," explains the chef.
Onto the small plates and the signature dish of foie gras all-day breakfast is "a bit like Marmite" according to Doherty, who says diners either love or loathe it. Inspired by the Great British all-day breakfast with a European twist, it comprises a thick slice of brioche covered with home-made Nutella and topped with pan-fried foie gras, crispy pancetta, two tiny balls of deep-fried black pudding and a fried quail's egg. What's not to like?
Dishes from the brick oven are cooked up at 450°C and include octopus served with chorizo, lemon and capers (£12); or spiced Herdwick lamb cutlets with smoked aubergine (£12). But Doherty's piece de resistance is the namesake Duck & Waffle (£13) - Belgian waffles stacked with confit duck leg, a fried duck egg and accompanied by a jug of mustard maple syrup.
Desserts are equally hefty and few diners will be able to finish the torrejas (£7) - Spanish-inspired French toast in the form of brioche soaked in custard and caramelised on the plancha served with maple-caramel apples and cinnamon ice-cream.
Duck & Waffle may have the best views in London. But it's not just the sky-high setting that impresses - the food makes it worth a visit too.
Duck & Waffle
Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AY
020 3640 7310
Sample dishes from the menu
SNACKS & BREADS
Battered sausages/mustard £4
Pea & mint arancini/truffle mayonnaise £5
Yellowfin tuna/watermelon/ balsamic/basil £7
Carlingford rock oysters £2.50
Spicy ox cheek doughnut/apricot jam £5
Seasonal vegetable salad/toasted nuts & seeds/ricotta salata £8
Whole lemon sole/lemon brown butter/wild sea vegetables £17
Wood pigeon/celeriac & beetroot slaw/pickled golden turnips £14
for the table
Artichoke barigoule/seasonal beans & peas £16
Whole toasted Sussex chicken/ratte potatoes/wild mushrooms/truffle £32
Warm chocolate brownie/peanut butter ice cream/ crunchy caramel £7
Eton mess/wild strawberries £6