My last post of 2012 is reserved for a meal at one of the years most hyped restaurants, Duck & Waffle on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower.
It was Thomas' birthday meal and I tried (and failed) to coincide our seating with the sunset, not remotely visible either from where we were sitting, or at all through the heavy covering of grey clouds over the city. It did mean that we sat down at 3:30 and were given the brunch menu to choose from.
As we arrived, about 2 minutes late, we were asked to wait at the bar. They were super busy so it was a while until we were handed drinks menus but everyone was friendly and apologetic about the wait, around 15 mins in all. The views kept us occupied.
We started with some champagne, half a dozen Carlingford rock oysters (£2.50 each) and the bacon wrapped dates (£7.50). The dates were wonderful, smokey and sweet served with a small salad of dandelion with a glob of linguiça sausage in the centre of each parcel.
Next we ordered the signature dish of duck and waffle (£15) which was definitely our favourite come the end of the night. I had wanted to have the steak and eggs benedict with ox cheek but they were out. The confit duck leg with waffle, fried duck egg and maple syrup with mustard seeds is quite brilliant. Richer and more satisfying than the example of the dish served with bacon.
The duck egg en cocotte (£10) reaffirmed my hatred of serving egg dishes in scorching hot pans, might look pretty but unless you down the yolk immediately, it invariably overcooks and disappoints. Otherwise the combination of truffle, gruyére, mushrooms and soldiers was lovely.
We shared all the dishes and our final non sweet selection was the tomato and goat cheese bread which we pimped up with N'duja spicy sausage (£8). It was a slight let down as it followed such strong dishes but the sausage packed a decent punch and the cheese and the cherry tomatoes were fine quality ingredients, there just wasn't quite enough of them.
To finish we had the spicy ox cheek doughnut with apricot jam (£8) and the selection of macaroons (£8) best of which was the salted caramel. Other flavours included pina colada, green tea and chocolate and passionfruit. The doughnut wasn't what I'd hoped it would be, I felt the smoked paprika was a bit overpowering but the doughnut texture itself was spot on, and I'm not usually a fan.
We had a lot of drinks, champagne and red wine by the glass, priced at £12.50 and £12 a glass respectively. It's pretty pricy, the cheesebread in particular seemed way steep, a £3 mark up for a meagre sprinkling of N'duja but it does feel like a special occasion venue and those views are spectacular. It was all the more sweet as it marked my return to the city after a week in Kent for Christmas, and it feels so good to be back. I wish I was there tonight to see the NYE fireworks from up high, maybe next year.
Duck & Waffle