At 40 storeys up in the air, the Duck & Waffle in the heart of London’s City business district is the highest restaurant in Britain. Once you get past the door-person on the ground – always say you have a reservation to get through the barrier – it’s into the super-fast lift which zooms non-stop to the top.
This is not one for vertigo sufferers – the lift is transparent and fixed to the outside. But the views over the City as you ascend are well worth the trip. You could ride up and down all day for free!
Duck & Waffle is also one of very few London high end (in the price/cuisine sense!) restaurants outside of hotels that is open every hour of the day, every day of the week. Despite this, booking is difficult. It’s not just that the on-line reservation system was not working when I tried. To get a good table for the dinner – and there are good and bad – you need to start several weeks in advance.
Why good table? Because sitting near the window and looking out over London is what Duck & Waffle’s unique selling proposition. Day or night (we went at night) there is always something to look at – and, for Londoners who normally live at ground level, there’s the game of guessing which building or street is which. The best views are looking east – you get Tower Bridge, the river and the City’s real estate rival in Canary Wharf.
But if you sit in the bar area – easier to get into but there is a dress code with the unusual term “casual elegant” – or in the centre of the restaurant, the view is still there but not so intense.
This leaves the food. There is a breakfast menu, brunch at weekends and the All Day, effectively lunch and dinner. It’s a mixture of small plates – that wonderful excuse to pile on the price – and large plates for sharing. Small plates average £12, while a large plate such as a whole roast chicken (enough for four) weighs in at £35.
It’s all about sharing – so our group of five ordered six small plates, a chicken and the eponymous duck and waffle (£17). This is a duck leg, served with an egg on a waffle along with maple syrup (you take as much or as little as you wish). It’s like an all in one breakfast. I enjoyed it – but it’s not everyone’s favourite.
Our tuna was served on a bed of rock salt, the eel was delicious while the Foie Gras Brulee with a brioche looked like a crème brulee. It tasted fantastic.
The big dish roast chicken came with potatoes. But while it was good, it was little different from a Sunday lunch version at a local pub.
Along with a pudding each – all enthusiastically eaten – we all felt full and happy, and glad we had not ordered too much.
The wine list is dramatically overpriced. You need a stiff drink to recover from the experience. There is practically nothing under £40 – with most of the bottles soaring well over £50. It’s fine to put in expensive numbers but you need to get there gradually – not have to search for something affordable. Best to stick to the Paul Mas house wine – it’s fine with all those different foods.
One of your number had an “Old Fashioned” cocktail (£14) – Jack Daniels, salted caramel, maple syrup, which for some reason, (which our otherwise helpful waiter could not explain) was served in a glass surrounded by hay.
It’s a buzzy place with good service. It’s different. And the bill for five including 12.5% service working out at £260 (£52 a head) was not as bank busting as I had feared.
Duck & Waffle
Heron Tower, Bishopsgate London EC2N 4AY
Nearest station: Liverpool Street
Phone 020 3640 7330
VERDICT – Food fun, panorama a picture.