I have wanted to go Duck & Waffle forever. It's constantly popping up on my Instagram feed, and taunting me with how awesome it looks. We've even tried to go a few times, but it's been booked up, or the timings haven't worked out - you know how it is.
Anyway, it occurred to me to book it for lunch on Matt's birthday back in September, and so I just booked it straightaway, with a month to go, no more thinking about it. I DO like that you can book, by the way. So many places don't allow it, and I understand that it's fairer - in a way - because everyone comes in that day as equals. But, you know. Queueing. UGH. It was so nice rocking up and knowing we had a spot reserved for us. God bless reservations, that age old wonder.
We got there about half an hour early and had cocktails. All the cocktails are SUPER weird, but excitingly so. I was tempted by the chocolate and blue cheese martini, but was a little scared that it would be too strange. Instead, I had the relatively tame red pepper bellini, which was yummy - it smelled more of red pepper than it tasted, but it was super refreshing. And Matt had their version of an old fashioned, with Jack Daniels, salted caramel and hay. Hay! It was yummy though. Caramelly. The cocktails aren't at all cheap, but really worth it for a treat - I loved that they weren't your standard run-of-the-mill cocktails, and we got to drink them whilst enjoying an amazing view. Win!
Onto lunch! We decided to try a few different things on the menu and share them. They're all about fusion food at Duck & Waffle - lots of flavours that you wouldn't necessarily put together, but they totally work. There's a big salt/sweet thing going on throughout much of the menu - doughnuts and creme brulee with meat, for example - but there are also a lot of traditional dishes on there too, like roast chicken and a lot of seafood. The decor was much simpler than I expected, but I liked it. And can I just say, I totally get the blogger obsession with marble backgrounds. All my iPhone pics look amazing.
We started with some rosemary and garlic bread, which came almost immediately and was steaming hot. It was incredible - very fresh, full of flavour and brushed with butter so it was glistening and just asking to be ripped apart and eaten. YUM.
Then it got weird - and I apologise in advance to any vegetarians for all the meat that's about to follow. We got a bag of BBQ spiced pig's ears. I KNOW. But they were pretty good, kind of like pork scratchings, and not at all like ears. And isn't it a bit hypocritical to eat one part of an animal and not another? Perhaps. Perhaps it is.
This bad boy is foie gras creme brulee - holy richness, batman. This was an interesting combination - basically foie gras with a crispy sugar topping, like creme brulee - but for me, it was a bit too rich and the bacon brioche on the side was too sweet an accompaniment. I would have preferred something plainer. But I have a hard time with pates and the like anyway... I don't massively like them, so I didn't expect to wolf down the foie gras. Good to try, though.
Now for the ox cheek doughnut, which was not actually as odd as it sounded. They'd blended the flavours really carefully. The doughnut was dusted in smoked paprika sugar, but the dough itself was not very sweet, and so didn't take away from the spicy meaty filling. I wasn't that keen on the apricot jam that it was sitting in, but the flavours all together worked really well - very tangy, a little like sweet and sour.
And finally, the Duck & Waffle - we couldn't very well visit without trying their signature dish, could we? Now, we'd heard that this wasn't the best thing to order, but it was actually my favourite thing we had. One of those occasions where I wished I didn't have to share it! If I went back, I'd definitely order it again - all the components were individually great, but worked together really well, too. Duck is quite a sweet meat, especially cooked in this way (all crispy and delicious) and the waffle and the maple syrup just enhances it, whilst the egg balances everything out. It was SO good.
I know I said "finally" but obviously we couldn't resist dessert, and shared the baked alaska - a fairly traditional dish, but it was beautiful. The strawberry sorbet inside was obviously made of fresh strawberries, and the lime zest on top went perfectly.
I was surprised by how impressed I was with Duck & Waffle. The service was great - we were seated quickly, our food came fast and the staff were friendly and helpful throughout. Not at all snooty, like they can be in some expensive places. The experience, too, was unforgettable - just being up so high, with the great views was enough, so everything else going so well was extra special. And finally, the food - it was truly fantastic. I've found before that sometimes the food can't quite live up to the experience - for instance, when we went to Darwin Brasserie a couple of months ago on my birthday, the experience was amazing, but the food was rather bland. So not the case at Duck & Waffle - all the components came together to create an incredible lunch. It's not the cheapest meal you'll ever have - definitely a treat - but very much worth it.
Duck & Waffle is at 110 Bishopsgate, London EC2N 4AY. I was not compensated for this review.