Editor's note: Dan Doherty left as head chef in April 2018 - he moved to The Royal Oak in Marylebone. The new head chef is Tom Cenci.
At the top of the Heron Tower in Bishopsgate is a complex of bars and two restaurants, all with impressive views over London. On the 40th floor is Duck and Waffle, an all-day (soon to be 24 hour) restaurant serving an eclectic mix of dishes, which opened in the summer of 2012. The view is striking, with picture windows on three sides of the dining room. You gain access to the restaurant via a lift which is to the right of the main entrance to the tower as you are facing it; I mention this because when I first visited, the doorman at the main entrance seemed unaware of it, and there was no signage. It is a glass lift, so you get a fine view over London as you ascend the 40 floors, or presumably cower in abject terror if you suffer from vertigo. The lift ride down resembles a theme park ride as you hurtle towards the ground.
Head chef Daniel Doherty previously trained at 1 Lombard Street for five years in the days when it had a Michelin star, then spent then years with Roux Fine Dining before opening the Old Brewhouse in Greenwich. The menu has “small plates” as well as larger dishes to share, and portion sizes varied significantly between the different dishes. The wine list had 118 selections, ranging in price from £25 to £850, with a median price of £87, and an average mark-up level of almost four times the retail price i.e. steep. Examples were Cuatro Rayas Verdejo 2010 at £28 for a wine that you can find in the high street for £6, Gnarly Head ‘Old Vine’ Zinfandel 2010 at £45 for a wine that retails at £12, and Pichon Longueville Baron Les Tourelles 2007 at £115 for a wine that will set you back £31 retail. Things did not get much kinder higher up the list, with Didier Dagueneau Silex 2008 Pouilly Fumé at £220 for a wine that cost a little under £80 in a shop, and a (misspelt) 2006 Château Climens at a daft £230 (plus service) for a wine that only costs around £55.
Rabbit rillette (£6) was well seasoned and had smooth texture, served on sourdough bread with beer chutney and a few pistachios providing a texture contrast – the rillette had good flavour, and this was a simple but enjoyable dish (12/20). Haddock Scotch egg with curried mayonnaise (£6) was an interesting take on the Scotch egg, though it proved difficult to get enough haddock flavour into this; my main issue was that the mayonnaise seemed a little too aggressively spiced, which meant that the haddock flavour receded yet further (11/20).
Crab on toast with lemon aioli and herb salad (£10) was simple but enjoyable, a generous portion of crab that avoided any pieces of shell (which is more than can be said for plenty of grander restaurants at which I have eaten), with a nicely balanced aioli – there is only so much that can be done with crab on toast, but this was very good (13/20). Raw scallop with apple, black truffle and lime (£8) was the most interesting dish by far. The scallop pieces were prettily presented on a rectangular block of Himalayan salt, which as well as being the plate allows you to season the scallop as you wish. The scallop itself was of good quality (from Billingsgate that morning) and the apple and lime were a sensible foil to the inherent sweetness of the scallop (comfortably 14/20).
On a separate visit I tried at breakfast the duck and waffle (£13) itself: a fried duck egg on a confit duck, served with mustard maple syrup. This was a fairly odd combination, the sort of thing that might be suitable for breakfast after a heavy night on the town. However the duck confit itself was good and the waffle cooked properly, though the mustard maple syrup tasted very sweet (perhaps more mustard was needed) so you end up with the fattiness of the duck paired with the sweetness of the maple syrup, which seemed a little odd (11/20). Still, it was fowl rather than foul.
The bill waddled in at £29.25, with just mineral water to drink (£4 a bottle), and service included at 12.5%. On both visits I found the service to be friendly and capable. Duck and Waffle serves altogether better food than a cynic might expect in such a context, where most diners will clearly be here for the view. To be sure, prices reflect the lofty location, but they are not outrageous. London has few restaurants with really good views, so it is nice to encounter one that is also a pleasure to eat at.