1 More Saffa | Soaring the palette with Duck and Waffle

Tasting and testing restaurant menus throughout London has become my mission. In doing so, I was swept off my feet by the 40th floor of the Heron Tower. With a panoramic skyline of London and chic design, Duck and Waffle is my top discovery to date.

Tasting and testing restaurant menus throughout London has become my mission. In doing so, I was swept off my feet by the 40th floor of the Heron Tower. With a panoramic skyline of London and chic design, Duck and Waffle is my top discovery to date.

I was sold on the concept immediately when a friend described the combination of flavours used in their menu; their ever changing cocktail list; and of course, the fact that it is the highest restaurant in the UK. Walking through the doors at Heron Tower’s base, you are guided to the lifts which shoot up the glass walls like Neil Armstrong’s rocket. When arriving at your destination, it is not the moon’s lack of gravity that takes your breath away, but rather the slight wooziness of vertigo that is immediately rescued by the ambience of the drinks lounge.

The surrounding transparent walls open up to London’s unparalleled city views and the chic simplicity of the middle island bar counter; delicately framed with crystal clear glasses and bespoke spirits, confirms you are in the quintessence of illustrious dining. Cocktails are carefully crafted and served in varying forms; from champagne flutes to your own miniature steel shakers. I went for the ‘VLS aka Le Fizz Royale’ with fresh lime, elderflower, soda and Grey Goose while the others dabbled in Martinis and ‘Salted Caramel Manhattans’. As the dimming sun beams shone through the glass windows, we were invited to our table. A tip for any future diners of the Duck and Waffle would be to go in the late afternoon, allowing you to experience the catching of the sun setting over the city’s roof tops.

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The square nature of the restaurant is enclosed in glass which continues the panoramic views, while the kitchen is left on full display When turning your head in every direction, your eyes catch the flickering lights of the outside depths or the quiet bustling of the chefs at work. When presented with the menu, every item immediately brings about instant appreciative silence and the licking of one’s lips. I would strongly suggest to follow the same head on tackle the five of us made of the menu i.e. taste everything.  Thankfully the menu is not too exhaustive and therefore it is possible to select a vast array of starters and main course specialties.

In preparation for the experience, we seemed to think it was a good idea to rate what we were tasting on what item of clothing we would hypothetically sacrifice. Odd I know… but it really does put Duck and Waffle’s brilliance into perspective when you find the result is that ridiculous image of a completely naked restaurant. And so on that note, the food arrived and all thought processes and word construction was lost.

Smoked granola and honey mozzarella; seared Scottish scallops in saffron broth; pollock lobster creamed meatballs, ox cheek doughnut, crispy fried pigs ears and foie gras creme brûlée arrived. Every bite of each item was a door into gastronomical cooking. Flavours combined with every taste and sensation along the palette and each time you expected something to melt, it then surprised you with a crunch. The star of the show, which immediately sent three members of the table straight to the finish line with theoretically no clothes; was the foie gras. It came topped with a wafer thin sweet creme brûlée crust, which complimented the silky smooth rich mouse. Each spoonful almost brought tears to your eyes as your crunched the brûlée, devoured the pate and then got taken by surprise with the sporadic topping of roasted lobster.

Round two involved the selection of main course specialties. Whole roasted succulent chicken with wild mushrooms and truffle sauce; perfectly rare rib eye with pearl barley and raw radish oil; and of course, the restaurant’s namesake – the duck and waffle. Without initially realising, you are blown away by the unusual genius of combining a crispy duck leg, fried duck egg and mustard maple syrup – on a waffle. No more are we privy to the childlike desires for waffles and ice cream, but rather the adult fetish for crispy dark meat, egg yolk and a mustard sweet glaze. The result – entire restaurant naked!

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When we didn’t think we could eat anymore, it was a pure necessity to taste a few deserts. Plates arrived with orange steamed puddings; peanut buttered flavored ice cream; a vanilla baked alaska which was a sculptured creation of a ‘sea urchin’ looking meringue; and finally the ‘torrejas’. This was the perfect ending to the meal. Cinnamon ice cream, maple caramel apples and some unnamed sponge cake deliciousness.

With humour in high spirits and a stomach ecstatic on the unwrapping of its ingredients, I knew this would be imprinted in my memory. Although quite pricey when it comes to their specialty cocktails, the rule of thumb is to go with the Tempranillo Spanish wine (cheapest on the menu, but light and tasty) and a large table; ensuring you get a taste of everything.