There’s no point in sugar coating it. I f***ing love awful puns. You know the ones I’m talking about – the type that encourage eye rolling followed by the often insensitive comment of ‘really?’. Although this review is a golden opportunity to revel in such things, being the new venture of London’s renowned Duck and Waffle, I’m gonna respect the new establishment and keep this one completely pun-free. In the words of Bruno Mars ‘don’t believe me? Just watch’.
The Venue & Atmosphere
Familiar with Duck and Waffle in Heron Tower? If you are, you’ll know that walk-ins here are a no-no; booking a couple of months in advance is an absolute must. Taking aim for the casual restaurant scene, Duck and Waffle Local is the flip reverse. They have a no reservations policy making them more accessible to ground floor revellers. Located at 52 Haymarket, it has a cute little terrace outside that’s ideal for eating and boozing in the sun, and stepping inside – the restaurant felt (and looked) 10 times bigger from the pictures I spotted online. You’ll find the bar to the left with a neat row of taps, each titled with different cocktails, wines and beer on offer, and the open restaurant directly opposite it. Overhead, the ceiling has a large design consisting of wood and blue, green and red metal sheets. Large floor-to-ceiling windows bathe the space in natural light, but there’s the addition of hanging light fixtures above the many red topped tables for when nightfall comes knocking.
Food and Drink
Aiming to separate itself from its sky-high sibling, Duck and Waffle Local has successfully dipped its toes into the causal restaurant scene with its affordable food and drink offering. Scanning the concise one page menu, the duck jam doughnut £7 and the crispy duck neck £4 got the better of our curiosity and so, we ended up with a portion of each. Coming out plonked in a pool of tangy orange sauce and dusted lightly in sugar; shoving that first bite into my mouth was like hopping on a train to pleasure town. Its savoury and sweet flavours played all too well against one another. Although the BBQ sauce for the duck neck was rich and worth every awkward finger suck, I found it quite difficult to weave the meat off the bone with my teeth.
Split into ‘duck’ and ‘not duck’, we tag teamed the ‘duck’ section for mains, to leave the grilled tenderstem broccoli £3 the only vegetable plate in sight (which was crunchy and sprinkled with paper thin slices of dried out garlic). Having never experienced the glory of Duck and Waffle’s signature dish £14, ordering it was an absolute no-brainer. The duck confit was tender and juicy, the waffle crispy, and the maple syrup had a crew of tinsie mustard seeds bobbling on top. The entire combination, with a fried duck egg sitting proudly on top, was on the money. Yes it’s the most expensive dish on the menu, but I have no qualms in saying it’s the most superior. The other main to grace our table was the duck burger £11. Crispy duck leg with spiced slaw and miso mayonnaise came sandwiched between two fluffy buns, but the most interesting accompaniment was the crushed noodles. London’s foodie scene is always pushing boundaries, and this one just happens to make sense.
Finishing off my main course and mindlessly picking away at the last few remaining crispy duck fat chips £3, it hit me like a stinging slap in the face that I had just devoured, what essentially were, two dessert-led dishes. Do I regret my choices? Hell no. But having spent the hours leading up to my review dreaming of dessert cones behind my desk, I’ll be wiser with my future choices.
Although beer and wine can be purchased at Duck and Waffle Local, we plunged towards the cocktail menu curated by Rich Woods – Duck and Waffle’s main man for spirit and cocktail development. His award-winning skills were evident from every cocktail that landed on our table. The Millennial Mojito £6 was garnished with generous sprigs of mint and came heavy on the alcohol but the Breakfast Fizz stole the show with its mind-boggling flavour. Made with Grey Goose L’Orange, fresh pink grapefruit and a distilled infusion of burnt toast, each sip resembled burnt toast smothered in orange marmalade.
Just like my challenge to avoid words like ‘nest’ and ‘ruffle my feathers’ to keep this review pun-free, Duck and Waffle have their own hurdles to jump in the casual dining scene. They’ve changed their tactics to bring aboard table service and made a few tweaks on the menu since opening, but they’re off to a flying start by delivering on their signature dish and low-priced quality cocktails. Oh alright, I buckled – but don’t judge me. One pun in a whole review has to be an all-time record.