Hi Dan, thanks for catching up with us! I’m going to start with a relatively open question – why duck?
I would reply with a similarly open answer – why not?! But really, a lot of this has come down to what we have observed at the original Duck & Waﬄe [forty storeys up Heron Tower in the City]. In the past ﬁve years, it has often been our duck-based dishes that have shined. We like putting the focus on something that is niche and novel, but also wanted to expand and make duck more accessible.
Utterly respectfully, it sounds likes the service will be similar to Nandos, with people ordering at the counter?
Ha! Well, in terms of the general service that is a fair comparison. It has been a bold move for us to switch the service model so dramatically, but in my opinion it is better for the guest at every level. At many restaurants, the dining experience is full of a lot of ‘ﬂuff’ – waiting for service, waiting for the bill, and so forth. Duck and Waﬄe Local removes those frustrations and unneeded waits, providing fast, high-quality service.
What has spurred the move to a more casual dining experience following the success of Duck & Waﬄe?
Duck & Waﬄe in the City is a destination restaurant but this is different. We wanted to bottle the essence of the original and simplify it; to make the best aspects more accessible. We have created a restaurant that doesn’t need to be just for special occasions. We’re turning it into something that will suit everyone – from locals working and living in the area, to tourists looking for a post-theatre meal.
Beside your signature duck and waﬄe dish, what else will be on the menu?
The menu will be varied but the focus is on the whole duck, moving beyond just duck legs. We will be using the heart, wings, neck, and gizzards. Additionally, we will be making our own mince for duck burgers. There is a duck jam doughnut, and also dishes made using duck breast. Basically, we want to show people that there is so much more to duck than just Chinese roast duck or duck à l’orange.
Sounds delicious! Where do you source your duck?
All of our duck comes from Creedy Carver farms in Devon. It is the only free-range duck producer in the UK and we went down there again a few months ago and loved their ethos. It really ties into what we are doing, so we decided to go with them.
For those not ready to dive into duck, will there be alternatives?
Absolutely. The menu will feature an equal proportion of duck dishes to fresh and seasonal vegetable-based dishes, such as grilled sprouting broccoli with chili, garlic, lemon and almonds. Even in this day and age, I think vegetables are quite underrated. For one, they are the future of sustainable eating. I don’t necessarily mean in terms of a lifestyle choice, such as vegetarianism, but more so in celebrating the wonderful produce that is on our doorstep. We ensure that 100% of our vegetables are sourced from the UK.
Aside from duck, obviously, what is your favourite ingredient?
I absolutely love Jerusalem artichokes. I would also say capers and harissa. Also, good yoghurt cannot be beaten. It’s a great building block for a sauce.
What made you choose St James’s Market?
The way we eat and eat out is changing, in the same way that London constantly is. We felt that in some ways the West End has a lot of options but it also doesn’t. While there are many restaurants in the West End – of varying quality – there is a dearth of options for post-11pm meals, which is one of the reasons we have decided to stay open until 1am.
What does St James’s represent and mean to you as a chef?
To me, St James’s is changing quite a lot, and St James’s Market has certainly propelled this. Although some of the great restaurants in the area are on the higher end, I saw an opportunity to have a more casual dining option.