REVIEW: Duck & Waffle, Bishopsgate
WHY GO? When an occasion is so special only a spectacular view will do, there are a few London stalwarts you can rely on.
The Shard’s dramatic height reduces cars to the size of ants, beloved landmarks too tiny in the distance, while ME hotel’s Radio Bar provides a gorgeous vista shared with snooty clientele. Duck & Waffle‘s USP is that it’s open 24 hours a day, offering astonishing views of the capital from dawn ’til dusk. Just as well, then, that the food is well-priced, as you could be tempted to stay for hours. Though the dress code is ‘elegant casual’, we heard visitors of all ages and backgrounds mix seamlessly. Intrigued, we booked for a Wednesday at 6.30pm.
WHERE? After an ear-popping lift journey beginning at the base of Heron tower (not before a hefty bag search from an unsmiling bouncer), we arrived in the restaurant’s bar, blue and white floor tiles jarring with loud graffiti print. Service was friendly, fast and no-frills, a world away from the unwelcoming stare down received outside on the pavement.
After Long Island Iced Teas, our corner table was ready, two huge glass windows giving the illusion of a truly dramatic drop-off that takes some getting used to.
Waiters explained that many visitors ask to be seated further towards the restaurant’s middle, and vertigo sufferers have been known to leave before ordering starters. Unperturbed, we perused the cocktail menu (fresh passionfruit mojitos were excellent) before digging into the small-ish All Day menu.
Duck & Waffle’s food is made to be shared, a concept we loved but didn’t quite understand – the dishes stand out just fine (and indeed, make more sense) on their own. Lovers of anything sweet and salty will adore the bacon-wrapped dates, but it’s the duck doughnut that steals the show starters-wise – charred pineapple jam and a crisp paprika sugar encases thick, squashy dough and soft duck meat.
This is the sort of food you want delivered to your door after a long, drunken tube journey home, to be eaten with your hands, and no care for who might be watching. Luckily, your neighbours are distracted by the view, so you can shamelessly tear up lamb keema with hara bhara sauce before delving into grease-stained brown paper bags filled with crispy BBQ pig’s ears.
ANYTHING ELSE? Urged to try the eponymous main dish, we were surprised by the lightness of the waffle, topped with a perfectly cooked duck leg and mustard maple syrup. The best dish, by far, was the 38 day aged 500g Angus bone-in rib eye, a thick, juicy cut oozing with flavoursome fat. Perfect shared between two, it’s not badly priced at £42, served with charred little gem, calçot onion, grape husk mustard & caper butter sauce.
Al the prices are good considering the restaurant’s location and grandeur – but it’s the wine list that’ll make your eyes water. The cheapest is £33 (a 2015 Chéreau Carré), shooting right the way up to £487 for a 2000 Philipponnat Brut. Excellent if you’re dining on the company card – devastating if you are not.
Grab happy hour drinks before your reservation, choose carefully and you can enjoy an extravagant night here for around £50 a head – not bad for a meal you’ll be thinking about weeks later. That is, if you can remember much – it’s near impossible not to drop into downstairs Sushi Samba for a nightcap, where the drinks are no weaker. Guess you’ll just have to take a few snaps for Instagram…