The Culture Whisperer, May 2017
In a nutshell: London’s most quackers skyscraper eaterie is coming back down to earth with Duck & Waffle Local. In the words of the restaurant itself: ‘Our head has always been in the clouds, but now our feet are firmly on the ground.’
The space: Aspiring to make their renowned dishes more accessible, the spin-off Duck & Waffle will pander to the fast-and-casual crowd. Instead of dizzying socialites and jet-lagged businessmen lounging in front of floor-to-ceiling windows, expect trendy influencers and down to earth foodies. Rather than the militant reservation times at the Heron Tower you’ll cruise into their cosy St. James’ Market location, which is reminiscent of old-timey diners, and order your food at the counter. Be warned: there’s limited table availability, so be prepared for a wait. If you are hangry and cannot wait, take away is also an option.
Unlike the original Duck & Waffle, which was defined by its presence in a glass monolith, 24-hour service and spectacular view of the cityscape, Duck & Waffle local plans on keeping things as low-key as they possibly can.
The food and drink: The cocktails are on tap. Let us repeat that: the cocktails are on tap. This sounds too good to be true, but Rich Woods – whose prodigious knowledge of chemical compounds could almost surpass Walter White’s in terms of creativity and innovation – makes it happen. Brewing big batches by hand before transferring them to kegs, the idea is that the beverages are quickly and consistently delicious. Each one is unique: Woods changes the gas, psi and nozzles to ensure his notable creations such as the breakfast fizz with burnt toast infusion, the white basil spritz with gin and apricot, and the millennial mojito are perfect every time.
All of this is a precursor for culinary virtuoso Dan Doherty’s outlandish menu. The titular duck and waffle are available at the new location, as are the duck burger and grilled duck breast satay. Notable highlights from the bites menu include crispy duck necks and crispy duck gizzards, but the food at Duck & Waffle local is at its best when showcasing Doherty’s creative capacities: you’ll love the foie gras crème brûlée, a dish you will struggle to eat with your mouth shut as the juxtaposition of flavours are jaw dropping. The duck jam doughnuts will forever replace the cronut in your heart. Time for a savoury summer change.
Get adventurous with the duck hearts, necks and gizzards (each sold separately). Dan, who is unequivocally the man, utilizes the entirety of the duck to capitalize on creativity without sacrificing flavour.
Would we return?: Yes. More reasonably priced than its skyscraping counterpart, with a relaxed atmosphere and fast-casual style of dining (did we mention there are cocktails on tap?) you can’t go wrong.
Opening date: May 3rd
Time: All day dining from 11am – late daily
Price: £25-35 per head on average
Reservations: Not taken, walk-ins only