Duck & Waffle

One of the first places I visited in London, and despite being so late to blog about it (I went long before I discovered the world of blogging or Instagram!) – I’ve been recommending it for years!

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Located at the top of Heron Tower, one floor above the also famous Sushi Samba (which I have yet to visit due to 1. The price and 2. Marcus’ dislike for sushi.. cry) Duck & Waffle is probably one of the most special places in London to go for food in my opinion. With the building itself standing at 230m (one of London’s tallest), it’s the stunning views of London combined with the incredible food that make this place so memorable for me. From the moment you arrive it feels exciting as you enter through a private entrance on Bishopsgate and are taken up to the 40th floor via glass lifts. Strangely, you’re unable to take up any food or drink – even bottled water – so be mindful if you’re like me and love to carry around enough snacks for a mini picnic in your rucksack!

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They’re open 24 hours a day – almost unheard of for a London restaurant – especially such an incredible one! They have a range of menus depending on when you go – breakfast, brunch, all day and late night menus, but the duck and waffle amongst some of their other most famous dishes are available whenever you go, and no matter which menu you’re presented with I can guarantee you won’t be disappointed!

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We went for our anniversary dinner when we first moved to London over 5 years ago and of course we both had to order their signature dish. Even back then, long before I became so accepting of the sweet and savoury combination I could appreciate what a perfectly balanced dish it was – it’s divine. An incredibly soft and fluffy waffle (that somehow remains that way even once cold), topped with a confit duck leg (think the most tender meat imaginable, falling off the bone, with crispy skin done to perfection), a fried duck egg and a heavenly mustard maple syrup – an absolute sweet and savoury triumph.

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We sampled many other dishes (apologies for the lack of pictures or the poor quality of the ones I could find!) but everything I can remember was faultless. A rosemary and garlic focaccia came in a beautifully fluffy mound, with chewy edges and a pillow-soft centre, studded with crispy rosemary and soft roasted garlic, a spring vegetable salad came with incredible smoked mozzarella – we both hated salad at this point (Marcus still does!) yet this was worlds away from your typical salad and we loved it! You can’t go wrong with the soft savoury heaven that is corn bread and the bacon wrapped dates (obviously something Marcus steered well clear of!) were just as incredible as they sound – sweet, soft chewy dates complimented perfectly by streaky bacon, grilled until golden brown and crispy.

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The apple cinnamon torrejas were meant to serve two, but I couldn’t convince Marcus to share with me – cinnamon spiced fruit is not his cup of tea! – but of course I got them anyway. Huge fluffy chunks of buttery brioche came sizzling in a skillet, drowned in a beautifully sweet toffee sauce, with spiced poached apples stuffed into every available space.

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Combined with delicious cocktails from an extensive list, a relaxed atmosphere and great service it was definitely an unforgettable experience!

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Ever since then we’ve been saying we’ll go back, but a ridiculously long list of other places to try plus the impossibly hard task of actually getting a table there meant it’s been years since we’ve been! When I took a Monday off for belated celebrations for Marcus’ birthday though I couldn’t resist booking a table! Mid-week tables are understandably easier to get and being a breakfast fanatic I was so excited to try their breakfast menu! We arrived early and were served coffee, ice cold water and mini pastries in their bar before being shown to our table. I’d stupidly forgotten to request a window seat (do it if you can!) but thankfully there was a little table for two in the corner that we were lucky enough to be moved to when I asked.

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Their menu is insanely good. I feel like I say this regularly as I love all breakfast/brunch foods but I quite literally wanted to order everything! I feel like I could go back every day and still struggle to choose something! After much deliberation we decided to try dishes that we hadn’t had before, and I didn’t want to go for a “boring” eggs on toast, so we decided to share the spicy BBQ beans on cheddar buttermilk scones and the braised ox cheek benedict, with extra sourdough toast and Cumberland sausage. We wanted extra croissants too, but you can’t order the pastry basket without the unfortunate addition of pain au raisins so we passed with the aim of hunting down one of London’s amazing almond croissants afterwards. The only thing missing from their breakfast menu was their spicy ox cheek doughnut.. understandable as I am perhaps one of few people who wants to eat doughnuts for breakfast, but having been too unadventurous to try this the first time round (I know – that’s how bland my tastebuds were when I first moved to London), I’d hoped to be able to order it!

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Everything we ordered was almost completely faultless. The scones were impossibly soft, with the perfect amount of cheese to give them a slightly dense and comfortingly stodgy centre. The waffle was every bit as heavenly as I remembered, topped with tender braised ox cheek. I usually avoid hollandaise sauce but combined with the tang of the incredible sriracha ketchup it brought the whole dish together beautifully. Our addition of sausage gave the beans a bit more flavour – if I’m being fussy the beans alone were slightly underseasoned with no real discernible spice or BBQ flavour! The only other item which stopped the meal from being flawless was (surprisingly!) the toast. As a self-proclaimed carb queen I’d say I’m fussier than most when it comes to bread, but this was so thin and crispy that it was like a crouton! The butter softened it slightly and the spreads – marmalade, jam and homemade chocolate spread were all delicious (ask for extra chocolate spread if you can – you won’t want to share!) – definitely went some way to redeeming it but for me good bread/toast is a breakfast staple so given how well they executed everything else it was surprising to say the least.. how can you ruin toast!?

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You’d expect that for such an incredible experience you’d pay a fortune, but that’s simply not the case. I personally wouldn’t say it’s that much more expensive than many other London restaurants, and while their dishes are small, a fair few of them are very reasonably priced. It’s no surprise that tables at peak times get booked up pretty much the moment they get released 3 months in advance! They do also now have a new, more casual restaurant (Duck & Waffle Local) which does some of their signature dishes along with other exciting new dishes.. for me it’s the experience and location that makes Duck & Waffle so special, but if you can’t get in here and are only around London for a few days then Duck & Waffle local would be a great alternative to try!

Link to their website: https://duckandwaffle.com

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