"..once one of London’s most exciting restaurants now a gleaming façade with little to recommend it."Review Rating: Reviewed by Leila
Amazing views from the 40th floor, round-the-clock opening hours, a creative menu of small plates… Duck & Waffle has it all going for it. Or had, as we recently discovered.
The first few days of January are challenging for restaurants, as anyone who’s tried to eat out that week knows: the kitchen has run out of bread, the kitchen has run out of wine glasses, the kitchen has run out of staff, etc etc. There’s a simple solution to this: don’t open if you can’t provide service as usual.
But this doesn’t seem to be the issue at Duck & Waffle. No, instead the problem here seems comparable to London’s gentrification, where important landmarks are being bulldozed to make way for over-priced glass buildings. And so the cheapest wine, a very average, slightly acidic Sangiovese (the Poderi dal Nespoli Fico Grande Sangiovese to be precise), is £30, yet a quick internet search reveals it has an average price of £6. A 500% mark-up is like customer cleansing, or in other words, pricing out those who can’t afford it.
It wouldn’t be so bad if the service or the food justified the cost, but Duck & Waffle falls short on both these counts too. The ingenious dishes we tried on our first visit two years ago (fatty sliced pig’s head aka mortadella seasoned with Amalfi lemon and salt, an all-day breakfast of bacon crisps with pan-fried foie gras and little balls of black pudding on toasted brioche with Nutella) are gone, to be replaced by food that puts style over substance.
Case in point: the tartiflette, a dish of potato, smoky lardons and most importantly Reblochon cheese, given that the recipe was created to boost its sales. This is just a bland heap of potato smothered in cream. Foie gras brûlée with lobster sounds exciting, but it’s a mismatch of overly eggy, sweet crème brûlée with a few pieces of lobster on top, while the foie gras is lost among it all – the only thing that could make this dish more preposterous was if it was decorated with gold leaf. Smoked mozzarella with orange salad has very going for it, and only the eponymous signature dish is good: crispy confit duck on a waffle with a jug of mustardy maple syrup is a surprisingly tasty pairing.
Once we’re past front of house the service is terrible too; staff look straight through us when we call for attention, take away dishes even if we say we haven’t finished, and generally keep us waiting too long for everything. What once had the promise of being one of London’s most exciting restaurants has sadly become another gleaming façade with little to recommend it.
Leila reviewed Duck & Waffle on Wed 28 Jan 2015