Getting to Duck & Waffle on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower is via a glass-walled express lift that takes you from the ground straight to the top. While the journey takes seconds and is a little bit exciting, I was disappointed I wasn’t going to go through all 40 floors in turn. In my head I’d been working on a whole J.G. Ballard thing for this review where the lift would break and I’d have to fight my way up through the floors to get to the restaurant as civilisation collapsed around me and the building tenants went feral or banded together according to how pretentious their children’s names were and which model iPhone they owned. Deprived of this narrative possibility, I suggest you all go away and read Ballard’s High Rise instead, which more or less amounts to the same thing except it’s better written.
Duck & Waffle, then. 40 floors up and some pretty stunning views of London, if London is a thing that you enjoy looking at; being able to look down at the Swiss Re building was a nice addition to the experience as well, though I always imagine the whole place is a fraud, an empty shell with a single desk and ethernet port available on the ground floor for one person at a time to use. Naturally the views are the best when the sun is out but this does mean you can toast if you’re not careful about where you’re sat. Note to the restaurant: offer parasols to the easily-burnt.
The weekend at Duck & Waffle offers a slightly schizophrenic brunch menu, with oysters, roast chicken, salad, pigs ears and bacon-wrapped dates offered up alongside the more traditional breakfast options. I say ‘traditional’ but only by comparison; Duck & Waffle’s breakfast options are heavily weighted to the luxury end of the scale; duck egg en cocotte, for instance, a molten platter of duck egg, mushrooms, melted gruyère, truffle and a few shards of toast. It’s a hot, glorious mess.
Steak and eggs Benedict is the only Benedict option, made up of braised ox cheek joining the usual muffin, hollandaise and poached egg; Benedicts don’t really get much better than this, and after I’d tried it I wasn’t sure why so few other places offer a beef-based Benedict. Seems obvious in retrospect.
The signature dish is a fat, crispy duck leg confit topped with a fried duck egg, both served on top of a waffle with mustard maple syrup on the side. I was instructed to douse the lot with the syrup, but fuck you! I’ll add the quantity of syrup in the manner I choose and I don’t need guidance on the matter, you pushy bastards.
All of this is pretty indulgent, but all pale in comparison to the foie gras all-day breakfast, which gets close to the ‘fried panda fillet with a dolphin tear jus’ end of the scale: toasted brioche topped with crispy bacon, fried slices of foie gras, a small poached hen’s egg and two balls of deep-fried black pudding. My only other experience of foie gras at La Bécasse had been disastrous when it was served cold, thick and greasy, like eating butter with a knife and fork. Here though, I finally understood why people torture geese for this. It’s not just because they hate geese; the foodstuff itself is astonishing.
There’s also a spicy ox cheek doughnut served with apricot jam. This is a traditional English doughnut (i.e., the best and most correct form of doughnut) stuffed with ox cheek meat in a spicy sauce, with apricot jam on the side for dipping.
This is, perhaps, the most perfect food, and I’m pleased to see doughnuts catching on as a breakfast item, speaking as a bit of a connoisseur of having cake for breakfast.
110 Bishopgate, London EC2N 4AY