Saturday 18 August 2012

Duck and Waffle: Breathaking Views (and the food ain't half bad)

What is it with restaurants: the better the view, the worse the food. Eating in Paris? Not at the Eiffel Tower.  Looking for proper Venetian cuisine?  Don't linger too long on Piazza San Marco.  Searching for the burgeoning British food movement?  Skip on by the BT Tower.  You get the idea!  So when I heard that a new restaurant was opening at the top of the Heron Tower, I wasn't all that excited.  Given that Duck and Waffle has views over the whole of London, surely the food would be the same old drudgery.  It is not.

Turning up at ground zero, you're met by a possy of bouncers.  No reservation, no entry.  Stepping into the Great Glass Elevator, you really do feel like you are going to Willie Wonka's wonderland as you are whisked up into the clouds. Fast.  Each second more and more of the City is revealed until you are standing tall, above everything but the Shard.  You can see so far there is even countryside.  It seriously is one of the best views around.

The view from our table...
We started with a few cocktails, an incredible Manhattan, served in a cloud of cinnamon smoke.  A rather disappointing Mojito, lacked sugar, then followed by a very good French Martini and Old Fashioned.  What can I say, we were in the mood.

Sat at a table in what was more of a corridor than the restaurant main, there was a chill in the air. We asked if they could change the a/c, they moved us into the body of the place with a view over the Gherkin and Tower Bridge.  Great service which continued throughout the night.  Our waiter, Jamie, was exceptional.  The kind of guy this place needs - unpretentious, Londoner, knowledgeable.

We started with some cod tongues and crispy pig ears - the tongues were nice (great touch with the scrap of newspaper), but the ears were fantastic.  Sweet, crispy, paprika laden - served in a paper bag. 

We then moved on to rich rabbit rilette and a juicy burratta which came with tart caper berries.  The rilette was up there with the best of them - smooth but meaty, it worked wonderfully with the sweet beer chutney.  Next, a mutton slider -  perhaps the best I have had in London (controversial I know, but it was that good).

Next a couple of oysters just for the sake of it.  Then some octopus and chorizo and a whole lobster.  Needless to say we weren't holding back.  The octopus came barely cooked, gelatinous, doused in paprika oil from the chorizo.  The lobster was delicious, cooked perfectly with a herby butter.

We finished with Eton Mess-  a perfect end to a delicious meal - and wandered downstairs to take in the party atmosphere at the sister restaurant and bar, Sushisamba, below.

The food at Sushisamba is getting mixed reviews, Duck and Waffle should not.  Everything we ate was very good indeed.  No weak dishes.  Yes its not cheap, but its not prohibitively expensive either.  That rabbit rilette, five quid, the octopus, nine.  You could probably eat quite well for thirty quid a head plus drinks.  We spent more, but not grudgingly.  Food very good, views unbeatable.
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