Duck & Waffle, London
Quick review of this 'small bites' restaurant on the top of the Heron Tower near Liverpool Street (and so walking distance from Shoreditch and anywhere in the City).
Views are incredible. Until the Shard opens this is one of the best easily-accessible views in London and well worth a trip. The elevator ride alone is quite astonishing.
The food: very variable
Bread: rosemary and garlic - superb.
Pea and Mint Arancini with truffle mayonnaise: decent arancini but nothing special, if there was truffle in the mayonnaise then it certainly wasn't evident in the taste.
Yellowfin tuna w watermelon, balsamic, basil: grim. Poorly cut pieces of average raw tuna that any self-respecting restaurant would have consiged to the bin. Really bad.
Mackerel Tartare w cucumber, smoked vodka, creme fraiche: lovely flavours, really very enjoyable.
Mutton Slider w harissa: quite tasty but tiny, bit of a joke for £5.
Duck egg en cocotte w gruyere and truffle: wonderful dish served piping hot with excellent bread made in-house. Rich, decadent and full of flavour, this would have been good value at twice the price which was £7.
So make your own conclusions - no guarantees but there are decent, value dishes to be had here. No problems with a couple of ££ extra for the view.
Drinks and service
Wine list is poor and unbelievable mark-ups even by London standards. Annoying upselling.
Service friendly but upselling on the wine and food ("you'll want a couple more dishes than that" (we didn't), "are you sure you don't want a salad" etc). Nice to see a chef actually in his kitchen though which is all too rare in London.
Overall I'd recommend a trip, it's a great place to eat and some of the food would have still got top marks at ground level. Probably wouldn't return in a hurry though, maybe a night visit for the evening views.
We went on 1-Jan for an evening meal. We had considered going for NYE but the pricing was outrageous.
Unfortunately, we found the food to be mostly bland. Nice ingredients and well conceived dishes but the execution was generally poor. The bread was very good and the spicy ox cheek doughnut was horrible as others have commented. The heritage tomatoes were the wrong temperature and tasteless ... they should not be on the menu at this time of year if this all they can source. The Artichoke Barigoule cried for some salt and the peas and mint were completely absent. btw this is definitely the first time either of us have ever complained of a lack of salt in a restaurant. The other dishes we had were just okay.
The waiter suggested 3 or 4 small plates per person to be followed by a large plate per person. We ended up having bread and 6 small plates and, while we weren't stuffed, we were satisfied.
The wine list was disappointing and expensive as noted. We ended up taking a bottle of Pinot Noir from New Zealand which was reasonable and went well with the dishes we ordered.
The service was not well coordinated or particularly professional.
Overall, we decided the Duck and Waffle was a "tourist trap" that is surviving only because of the wonderful view and just to be clear the view is spectacular.
Can't disagree with much there-
I also received the tuna with watermelon and basil and found it to be terrible. I don't think the flavour combination works at all and the tuna quality was very poor. On the upside I did get it for free after a mistake.
On the other hand I also had the 'raw fish of the day' which was a trout served on a pink salt slab and it was melt in the mouth superb. However i think it was dressed with too much truffle oil - perhaps a small speck of actual truffle would've worked better. The mackerel tartare was good, nothing special though. The beetroot with curds I have had better elsewhere and was also served way too hot, but it was decent.
They also had a spicy pulled beef (or pork?) doughnut which sounded intriguing. Don't order! it's awful.
Did you not try the duck and waffle dish? i think you kind of have to here. It's pretty good, but i think the portion size is too big - the dish just gets kind of boring after one too many a mouthful. Then again i'm not really a fan of US-style chicken and waffles at all.
Ive been taking family and a few friends from the States there over the past few weeks for the view and select snackage. We basically order a few drinks, a few bags of bbq-spiced crispy pig ears (my dish of the month in another thread), split a duck and waffle, and possibly some salads. Agree the d&w for 1 would be too much - though split between 4 people its perfect; the runny yolk of the fried egg, duck confit, some starch, and some pretty awesome syrup (not too sweet) makes for a few perfect bites. I think it's listed as a sharing item or for the table so not intended for 1 person. Otherwise have had the same experience with the rest of the menu being a bit forgetable in design and/or execution.
PS does anyone else find the entrance to either D&W or SS to be strange. You get off the glass elevators (fastest ever or in Europe an engineer type friend gushed) and then walk through cramped hallways that after a few fire doors open out onto great spaces. I understand wanting to give people a feeling of compression and release. Though I cant help the feeling I'm always entering or leaving through a service entrance or the wrong entrance. Maybe I have been.
Completely agree with your PS, we turned back to the lifts on our first attempt at finding an actual restaurant having arrived at the 42nd floor.
I have to say Sushisamba holds absolutely no appeal whatsoever for me, I'd be interested to hear from anyone who has been but it looks pretty grim from the reviews.