Situated on the 40th floor of the very spiffy Heron Tower, the place wows from the moment you step in and breathe in the stunning unobstructed view of London. There is an open bar area with free seating where you can cool your heels with some of the signature Duck and Waffle cocktails. Try the D&W Gin and Tonic, topped with yuzu flavoured foam and rose petals, for a sweet and refreshing treat. I also love the Dark and Stormy, which comes bottled and wrapped in a paper bag. To go with your drink, go for the BBQ Fried Pigs Ears that come in a brown paper bag with a wax seal. Don't be put off by the fact that they're ears - they're crispy and chewy strings of pure addictiveness.
Once you've had a drink or two, step around the corner to the restaurant where the magic really begins! The place is very bright and spacious, again offering the breathtaking panoramic view of London, and is always buzzing with sounds of chatter. Alongside the constant flurry of action in the open kitchen, the ambiance is warm and casual.
The menu changes monthly at Duck and Waffle, but one of the constant staples is Bacon Wrapped Dates, which I honestly hope they never take away. The savoury bacon contrasts nicely with the sweetness of the dates but what you don't expect is that the dates are filled with a tasty, creamy filling. Altogether, the combination of textures and flavours makes for a deceptively complex mouthful!
The head chef tells me the filling is a combination of linguica sausage and manchego cheese, which explains why they're so incredibly moreish and satisfying.
One of the new dishes on the menu this month was Pollock Meatballs, served on a lobster sauce. I loved that the texture of the fish was not lost in the process of 'meatball-ing', creating a great contrast of textures between the crunchy topping and the tender fish meat.
Another of the new dishes I tried was the Roasted Beetroot. I'm not usually a fan of beetroot ('too healthy'), but its accompaniment of melting honeycomb and goats curd meant even I couldn't resist diving back into the dish for seconds.
With my 'healthy' credits fully satisfied, I moved onto my no-holds-barred assault of the more sinful side of the menu. Another of the constant staples on the menu, the Foie Gras All Day Breakfast is a large slab of perfectly cooked foie gras on a crispy slice of toasted brioche, topped with bacon slices, black pudding balls and a quail's egg. Cholesterol overload aside, the flavours work amazingly well, with the heaviness of the foie gras counteracted by the tangy homemade 'nutella' and the sweetness of the brioche. The bacon and black pudding also bring punchy flavours that don't get lost to the foie gras.
Although everything else is excellent, there is no question that the Duck and Waffle is the star of this blockbuster show. As its name suggests, the dish is a confit duck leg served on some very fluffy waffles. Having had a fork in over a dozen of these, I can say with authority that the duck here is always executed perfectly. The skin is crispy but always lined with just the right amount of fat to keep the meat moist and tender. Drench generously with the maple syrup and your tastebuds will revel in the sweet/savoury explosion of flavours.
They named the restaurant after this dish for a very, very good reason, so don't believe them when they say this serving is 'for the table' - no one will want to share.
Another dish we ordered 'For the Table' was the Fish Stew, which features a selection of several different fishes and a few scallops, served in a very light broth-like sauce. The light sauce makes for a good break from the intensity of the other dishes and whilst this seems like quite a simple dish, it is still a smorgasbord of different textures in what seems to be the trend here. Some fillets are thin and crispy, some are tender and some will absorb all the goodness of the broth and become packed full of flavour (don't ask me to name the fish).
As much as I'd have liked my meal to have covered twice as many dishes, there is only so much awesome we can handle at a time so we moved onto the sweets. In fact, I'm not really a desserts kinda guy, but can anyone resist a battered mars bar? What about the malted ice cream that goes with it? No? I didn't think so...
And finally, in a desperate attempt to purge our food-sins, we ended with a semi-healthy rhubarb and custard. Of course, since the rhubarb content is overwhelmingly outweighed by the creamy rice pudding and hazelnut crumble, we finished this up within seconds too...
Duck and Waffle really ticks all the boxes for me: the food is consistently top-notch, the ambiance is casual and comfortable and the food prices are very reasonable. On top of all this, the restaurant is open 24 hours, so cravings can be satisfied at any time of day. I can tell you from experience that there is nothing quite like a confit duck leg on some waffles at 1AM in the morning, which is why the place is often still full of diners at that hour of day (night?).
I always recommend this place whenever anyone visits London and I have to say that no one has ever come away unhappy! They also cater not just to 'one off' visitors, but manages to keep things fresh with its constantly renewing menu and daily specials on the chef's blackboard so that loyal customers can come again and again (and again).
The only downside to this is that there are some dishes no longer on the menu that I sorely miss. Alas, lamb meatballs... Will we ever meet again?
Price: £ £ £ out of 5
You can find the Duck and Waffle home page here.