How utterly predictable. Yet another blog post, proclaiming love for Duck & Waffle. Even as I type, I am filled with such a sense of self-loathing and embarrassment. I pretty much have nothing original that hasn’t already been said about Duck and Waffle.
Duck and Waffle is stunning. From the moment you panic about not being able to find the entrance (lots of expletives on my behalf), to the moment you try to push open the door and the embarrassment you feel when the lobby entrance is locked and you have to be buzzed in. Fancy!
I suppose the truly stunning moments begin when you step into the lift and you begin zooming 40 stories up in a glass lift, Charlie and the Chocolate Factory-style. I had actually decided to surprise 2 friends with lunch at D+W. It was my first time there, but I knew the lift was coming and to watch their faces change from shock to sheer delight was brilliant. The lift alone is worth the visit and if they began to charge for the opportunity to just use the lift, I would happily agree. More fun than Thorpe Park any day!
For the uninitiated, D+W offers 360 views of London and the most amazing, delicious food at a more than reasonable cost. There is another restaurant on the 38th floor, Sushi Samba, but word on the street (the figurative food blogging street) is that its pricey, and not worth the cost. Mains at D+W hover around the 10-15 pound mark. Remarkable when you see the views. At such low prices, I suppose the way D+W will turn a profit by being open 24hours. Yes, if you so wish, you can eat waffles at 3am.
Staff were patient when we were clearly too distracted by the view to actually focus on the menu and order. Unsure of how much to order, we eventually decided on 3 dishes and consulted the waiter if that would be sufficient. He then laughed and said ‘that is enough for an entree’. Based on this ‘advice’, we went for one of the biggest dishes, the whole roast chicken to serve as our main. More on that later.
First up was the BBQ-spiced crispy pig ears, that came in a brown paper bag with the restaurants red wax seal, and enticing oil stains just beginning to show through, hinting at the deliciousness hiding inside.
The ears themselves were one of the moresish things I have had the pleasure of eating lately. A little bit crispy, a little bit chewy, they were covered in BBQ seasoning that had more than a touch of bacon flavoured essence over them. They were a brilliant start to the meal, setting expectations high.
As a reader of far, far too many food blogs, I knew there was no way we weren’t going to eat at D+W without ordering the foie gras ‘all day breakfast’. What brilliant, twisted mind thinks to put together such a genius combination of thick toasted brioche spread with Nutella of all things, crumbed and deep-fried black pudding, crisp shards of streaky bacon, wobbly slices of foie gras and top the whole thing off with a fried quail’s egg? A complete and total genius, that’s what. Just looking at the list of ingredients does make my stomach turn a little bit, but all together on the plate, this was pure deliciousness. The addition of the nutella took the edge of the rich savoury elements, and even I, purveyor of all things rich and fatty and deep-fried, would not attempt to eat this dish on my own without giving up half to be shared. I’m so generous….
The meatballs were lovely, but to be honest, there was no way they could stand up to the brilliance of the first dish. The meatballs were still soft, and the tomato sauce sweet. The toasted pinenuts gave crunch, but for me, the ricotta was a little bland, but that’s more a personal opinion on the state of ricotta than anything else. The accompanying garlic bread was fragrant with rosemary, and I wish there was a touch more sauce to mop up with the bread.
One must always order the dish for which a restaurant was named for. It’s pretty much the rule of eating out. Looking at this picture, the duck looks a touch dry, but when I picked up the fork to scrape the meat off the bone, nothing more than a prod was needed before the meat landed back on the plate. In the side bowl was a mixture of maple syrup spiked with mustard seeds. After drowning the whole thing with the syrup concoction, it made for another delightfully rich breakfast dish. I suppose if you are one for whom sweet and savoury should never be mixed, neither the duck and waffle nor the foie gras breakfast will hold any sort of allure for you, and indeed there are many more ‘conventional’ dishes you can order. If the opposite holds true however, then you probably should stop reading this post and be clicking on the website link at the bottom of this page to make a reservation immediately.
At this point, we started to become nervous that we had an entire roast chicken still to come. Remember at the beginning when we asked the waiter if 3 dishes would suffice? And his laughing at what we had ordered was enough as an entree? Yeah, I was now secretly cursing that man. Too much food! It was clearly too late to cancel our order, so we just had to deal with the consequences ie. stomach swelling and the strong need for a belly rub and a peppermint tea later.
To be fair, once the chicken arrived, it was delicious and well cooked as all the dishes we ordered were. The chicken retain its moisture and was juicy, the skin crispy and salty. Buried underneath was a mixture of creamy potatoes, and more varieties of mushrooms than I could name. The menu-mentioned truffle was undetectable to my poor under-developed palate, but the dish was none the less worse without the extra flavour. We ended up leaving about 1/2 the chicken behind. Such a sorry waste of food.
Clearly with the amount of excess food, no desserts were ordered. A fact I am regretful over, especially when I look at the menu on-line and see that they have Eton Mess. Gah. Another time. And there will be another time as I’ve already booked D+W again, this time for my upcoming 5-month wedding anniversary. Not a particularly huge milestone, but I just needed a reason to book again!
So to sum up, yes, yet another boring post from another food blog on the brilliance of Duck and Waffle, but you know what? It really does deserve it. Amazing location, good food and decent prices. They really have hit the trifecta of what you want out of a restaurant. As Gwynn said during lunch: ‘Why bother with the London Eye? You can see all the landmarks from here, and they don’t even serve food in the London Eye!’. If you go? Just don’t order as much food as we did.