Tuesday, 6 November 2012

The Duck and Waffle

A's birthday was a little while back, and A was really treated to some culinary delights. Along with A's mum cooking a wonderful traditional Jewish feast (see here), C took A out to one of London's hippest new restaurants, Duck and Waffle. Here are our thoughts on the venue and the menu (but not the wine list...)

Battered Sausage

If you don't already know, the Duck and Waffle is a modern European place on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower by Liverpool Street, which boast 360 degree views of the City and London's suburbs. C, somewhat incredibly, had managed to blag a window table looking out over Wapping and the Docklands (where A lives). The views are stunning, and the food is every bit as good. The menu is a really diverse list of inventive modern European fare, and each dish we had was packed to bursting with flavour and interest.

Raw Clam Sashimi

The food at Duck and Waffle is sort of like tapas: you order a variety of small plates, and then share the food as it comes out. As we ordered rather a lot of different things - battered sausage, rosemary and garlic bread, pea and mint arancini, mutton sliders, raw scallops, lamb chops and desserts - and all were brilliant, for the sake of brevity we'll focus on some of the most inspiring and inventive dishes.

Interestingly, the simplest dishes came out on top. The battered sausages were excellent, not at all greasy and fried in a tempura batter. They came served with a cocktail stick, a newspaper garnish and a hot horseradish sauce. The sausages were bursting with flavour and were butter soft, in contrast to the audible crunch of the batter. The creamy mustard sauce rounded off the experience perfectly; as these came first, we wondered what other culinary delights were in store.

Rosemary and Garlic Bread

The pea and mint arancini were also outstanding. We've written about arancini on the blog before in the context of Amico Bio, and these were every bit of good. The waiter served up a small pile of miniture balls, each of which was intensely minty and pea-y (if such a word exists). Again, the textures were perfect with a crunchy outer shell and a wonderfully soft inside. The herby mayonnaise which they came served with complemented rather than detracted from the overall experience, and once again, A and C were left wondering how things could improve.

Mutton Slider

The other thing that was really worth writing home about were the lamb chops done with baba ganoush. As it was A's treat, it was his choice how the meat was done and he insisted on rare - a way C wouldn't normally choose. However, on this occasion A really won C over. C admitted that she might even be slightly wrong about well done (or overdone) meat - a conclusion she'd come to about steak a while ago after visiting Hawksmoor Spitalfields - and accepted that medium-rare lamb was softer and more flavoursome than when it's cooked through. As with everything else, the chops were cooked to perfection and the flavour combination of the smoky aubergine with the barbequeued lamb had been well thought through by the chef.

If there was one downside to the experience, it was probably the dessert. Don't get us wrong, they were good - but compared to everything else they felt, well, a bit mediocre. A's brownie was passable (though he did approve of the plate, decoerated with a chocolate sauce 'Happy Birthday') and C felt similarly about her peach melba. While peach is one of C's all-time favourite flavours, the offering here was fairly sour rather than sweet, and a little dry. However, all in all the desserts were enjoyable, and rounded off the meal nicely.

We're unable to comment on the wine list here, as the prices for it are about as high as the restaurant. The cheapest bottle is £35 but it's extremely easy to fork out over £200 for a bottle. While C was extremely generous in treating A to dinner as part of his birthday present, wine was a little out of the price range for this evening and so we stuck to softies.

Peach Melba

In all though, Duck and Waffle is excellent. While it's tempting to think that the place is a gimmick, the food is worth a visit in its own right. The place is stylish and the views are amazing, the presentation and execution of the dishes we had were of the highest order. It does pay to be aware about the wine prices, though, as these are way beyond the means the average punter and, we felt, out of kilter with the pricing of the restaurant in general (although we appreciate that the overheads need to be paid somehow).

Don't let the hype put you off and do give Duck and Waffle a go; for the exact combination of a breath-taking views and generally great food, it's surely one of the best places in London.

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