Leaving my house at 7.45 am and darting through the pouring rain to my nearest bus stop isn't normally how I spend my bank holiday Mondays. However, yesterday was special because I had a breakfast reservation at Duck & Waffle, and neither the weather nor the early start could put me off. Duck & Waffle, a 24/7 restaurant on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower in the City, opened up over three years ago, but I've never been organised enough to nab one of the popular dinner or weekend brunch slots. A few weeks ago, I decided it was time to rectify this oversight.
The rain hadn't abated during my short bus ride and even the two-minute walk from Liverpool Street station was pretty unpleasant. Soon, though, my friend and I were perched high in the sky enjoying a spectacular view over London. The restaurant's lift whisked us up to the 40th floor so quickly that our ears popped.
We were shown to our table by the friendly staff and I was delighted to find that we were seated by the window looking directly down on the Gherkin and over south-east London. I mentioned when booking that it was my first visit and requested a window seat; I'm sure they get a lot of these requests, but it can't hurt to ask, especially if you do so nicely. At first, it was rainy and very cloudy and the view wasn't that great.
But by the time our coffees arrived, it was already starting to clear up. I ordered a cortado (£3.50) and although it was a little over-priced, I was pleasantly surprised by how good a coffee it was. They use Caffè Musetti coffee, and the cortado was rich and smooth with good latte art. It looked even better with a side of Gherkin, of course.
On weekdays, there is only a reduced breakfast menu available rather than the full weekend brunch selection, but I wasn't in danger of having too few choices. Regular readers will know that my default brunch-ordering response is to pick the dish that has eggs, avocado or bacon — ideally, all three — and my friend did indeed order the Colombian eggs (scrambled eggs and avo on toast) with a side of bacon (£15), I went rogue. After all, I couldn't not order waffles on my first visit to Duck & Waffle.
The next dilemma was whether to go sweet or sweet and savoury. I liked the sound of the bananas brulée, which includes both Nutella and peanut crunch, but I am not that fond of bananas. Besides, the eponymous duck and waffle (£15) was calling my name. The titular dish consists of a waffle piled high with duck confit and a fried duck egg and served with mustard maple syrup. Boy, was that the right call! The salty-sweet flavour combinations worked together beautifully and although you can't really tell from my photo, there was a lot of juicy, perfectly cooked meat on the duck leg. Had it been closer to brunch o'clock, I might have wanted either some bread or a pudding, but it was just the right amount of food for breakfast.
The staff were friendly and professional and didn't rush us at all as we lingered over our drinks, making the most of the amazing view. I was particularly pleased that I could look out over my own neighbourhood, Bermondsey, although my building was too low for me to make it out from that distance. We could also look over to Canary Wharf — the tops of the skyscrapers were lost in the clouds — and to the Olympic Park.
Finally, it was time to ride the lift back down to the ground floor; actually, we got to do it twice after an umbrella mix-up. Sadly, the rain had returned with a vengeance, but we had had too good a breakfast to care much.
I will definitely be returning to Duck & Waffle, ideally to try the evening or weekend brunch menus, and I highly recommend it as a special venue with great food. You can usually book from about two months in advance and you should definitely book if you have your eye on one of the more popular slots. Try to book with them directly, too, as the D&W website has a lot more availability than OpenTable.
Duck & Waffle. 110 Bishopsgate, London, EC2N 4AY (Tube: Liverpool Street). Website. Twitter.