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Duck & Waffle; Fortieth Floor Fabulousity

Rating: 87.
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When it comes to restaurant openings, London is a tough place to keep up with. Just like every year dozens of new restaurants have opened or will open their doors in London this year, making the London dining scene probably the most dynamic in the world. Two restaurant openings that caught my eye in August were SushiSamba and Duck & Waffle, located at both the top floors of the Heron Tower in London's City. Since I had only one meal to spare during my last visit to London I had to choose between SushiSamba and Duck & Waffle and I chose the latter.

Duck & Waffle is on the 40th (the top) floor of the Heron Tower and obviously the panoramic views of London and far beyond are absolutely stunning. Head chef of Duck & Waffle is Dan Doherty (28), a still young but already experienced chef. Dan Doherty started his career at the tender age of 16 in the Michelin starred kitchen of Herbert Berger's 1 Lombard in London. Later on he worked in two other London restaurants (The Ambassador on Exmouth Market and The Empress in Victoria Park) and his last stint before becoming head chef at Duck & Waffle was at The Old Brewery in Greenwich.  

Duck & Waffle is open 24/7 (sic!). The restaurant offers an all-day menu with a broad selection of snacks and other dishes, small and large, designed for sharing. During breakfast hours there's a separate breakfast menu. Chef Dan Doherty changes the menu regularly and frequently adds new dishes. Do check the website of Duck & Waffle for the latest menus. I had dinner at Duck & Waffle on Friday 24 August 2012 and since there were four of us we more or less worked our way through the entire menu.

We started with four dishes from the 'Snacks & Breads' section on the menu. First up were Peas in the pod: lovely fresh and crunchy peas served with bacon and eucalyptus which was a really nice touch.

Followed by BBQ-spiced pigs' ears, gorgeous crispy strips of pigs' ear with a lovely smoky flavour served in a small brown bag (no photo) and Chip shop cod tongues: very tasty goujons of cod tongue and a good sharp tartare sauce served chip shop style.

Finally, Flatbread, brandade, charred tomato jam: Tasty flatbread accompanied by a wonderfully creamy and well-seasoned brandade. The brandade/flatbread combo worked really well.

Next up were five dishes from the 'Small Plates' section.
(i) Smoked haddock Scotch egg, curried mayonnaise. Delicious Scotch egg, loved the succulent smoked haddock. The curried mayonnaise was nice and spicy (no photo).
(ii) Foie gras 'All Day Breakfast'. This dish had intrigued me since I first laid eyes on the menu of Duck & Waffle. A thick, toasted slice of brioche served with home-made Nutella, foie gras, deep-fried black pudding balls, crispy bacon and a fried quail's egg. An unusual, love-it-or-hate-it, luxurious and flavoursome dish that does justice to its name; it serves many purposes, around the clock... (no photo).
(iii) Scallop carpaccio, apple, black truffle, lime. Lovely, thinly sliced raw scallop served on fresh apple and topped with truffle and lime zest. A truly wonderful and elegant dish with fantastic flavours. 
(iv) Sea bass, red chilli, olive oil, crispy garlic. Thinly sliced raw sea bass served ceviche style. The quite coarsely chopped red chilli didn't overpower. Nice crunch and flavour from the crispy garlic (no photo).
(v) Bacon wrapped dates and linguica sausage served with a light dandelion salad and mustard mayonnaise. Delicious and highly addictive even, nice balance between the sweetness of the dates and the spicyness of the sausage. The bacon was nice and crisp and the salad worked well with the other ingredients (no photo).

Scallop, apple, truffle, lime

The next three dishes came from the 'Brick Oven' section on the menu. First dish was Octopus, chorizo, lemon, capers. A classic combination, the octopus was lovely and tender but the dish as a whole was a bit greasy. This was followed by Soft goat's cheese and caponata. Flavoursome baked caponata with a creamy goat's cheese topping. A very satisfying dish.


Caponata and goat's cheese

Last but not least, Meatballs, tomato sauce, ricotta, pine nuts, garlic. Excellent well-made moist meatballs. Lovely fresh tomato flavours. Simple but perfect.

After this parade of dishes I was the only one at our table brave and greedy enough to order dessert. I had the Eton mess with wild strawberries. A proper Eton Mess that my table companions decided to share with me after all.

I had the choice and I haven't been to SushiSamba yet but I am glad that I chose Duck & Waffle. I had a wonderful time there and I very much enjoyed the energy and vibe of the place. When I visited, the restaurant had only been open for two weeks but both kitchen and front of house were already running like clockwork and that is no mean feat in a restaurant that seats 98 and is more or less fully booked all the time. The food at Duck & Waffle is a mixture of modern British fare and classic favourites from the Mediterranean. Dan Doherty has put together a menu with a good range of well-conceived but unfussy and flavoursome dishes that are carefully prepared and are indeed perfect for sharing. There's a good balance between uncomplicated comfort food and simple yet refined dishes. Exactly the sort of food you would hope to find in a restaurant like this and if you're anything like me you would want to eat everything they offer. So even I, a person with a considerable and well-trained appetite, was glad there were four of us that night.

Duck & Waffle on Urbanspoon

Posted 19-09-2012

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