You enter the Heron tower through the exclusive lift hall just for the Duck and Waffle and Sushi Samba restaurants, separating these two fine dining restaurants from the rest of the financial skyscraper. There is a small reception desk at the front of the lift, which I can only assume is there to check that you have reservations and keep a watch on the capacity limits as there is only one button to press in the lift, so it is not like you need a guide. The lift is completely made of glass – except for the floor, thankfully – and is very fast for a life. The experience is amazing seeing the London skyline open up to you within a few seconds. Fabulous!
Out of the lift we headed around a wooden corner, past the toilets and finally to a bare room with a bar in the center, very basic but with huge amounts of fresh fruit, herbs and liquors. The minimalist look allowed the views to speak for themselves. At this point, diners for Sushi Samba can go down the spiral staircase past a bright orange tree and eat or drink on the floor below. We headed on past the bar into another hallway with another reception desk. We gave our name and were seated by the window (try to ask for this if possible and the bigger the table booking the more likely this will come into fruition.) From our seats we could see the East End, the Gurkin right below us and Canary Wharf in the distance. If you would have been sitting the other side the West End would have been just as magnificent. Again the décor was simple, light wooden tables, golden effect ceiling and couch style seating in the middle, all emphasizing the views.
The waitress asked if we wanted to ordered drinks and if we wanted the menu explained to us. We did of course as this was our first visit but since our guests were slightly late, we asked her to delay this for five – ten minutes. Another waiter came to ask the same thing and we gave the same response.
When our guests did finally arrive, it became extremely hard to get hold of our waitress; this would not have been such an issue if we did not have to attend another meeting later that day. Finally we did manage to get her attention and she explained the concept of the menu. They are small, large and sharing dishes that come out at different times and some more suited to certain courses. She said that as we had never dined here before, she would suggest that we each choose a dish we fancy and then she will tell us if we need more or less as well as if we are missing out on a particular popular dish. We agreed this was probably the best way forward.
We went around the table and ordered a dish that we all fancied; the waitress would interrupt every now and again saying that we would need more orders of that particular dish if we all liked that option. She then suggested we try the obligatory ‘Duck and Waffle’ dish, which was for two people to share (so we ordered two) and recommended we try the cod meatballs. Fine we said, why not.
The open kitchen is at the entrance of the dining room and is visible to most diners. The pace is fast and busy yet not chaotic although getting the attention of the staff did seem a harder task than we thought. Our first set of dishes arrived; these were goat’s cheese salad with shaved truffle, cod meat balls, octopus and sweet corn. These were served at a set time all together although we knew we had another set to come after. The salad was light and oaky, creamy yet fresh, very lovely. The cod meatballs were served in a wrought iron pot and bathing in a creamy tomato sauce, the cod meatballs was one of my favourite dishes. The sweet corn came out grilled and rolled in dried coconut and I particularly liked how the coconut taste contrasted with the sweetness of the corn but I felt that the dish as a whole was a little simple and lacked imagination. Also very messy I have to say.
Once we were done with these dishes the next lot came out. Now came out the sausages sliced into coins served in a deep red wine jus, the dates were wrapped in crisp Parma ham and in another league than your typical horseback, let me tell you. Smokey caramel was the lasting flavour that lingered in the mouth – devine. Now we thought this was the last course and we finished off everything full to the brim.
We were so wrong, as we watched the pièce de résistance, Two ‘Duck and Waffle’ being delivered to our table. A confit duck leg was sitting on a waffle with a small jug of maple syrup. Now this may seem a little odd but the richness of the duck worked in perfect harmony with the swat syrup and the doughy waffle. This was a firm favourite of the table.
We had finished up and asked for the bill. We couldn’t dare to think of eating another morsel. The food really did live up to expectations; everything was simple yet quirky by having an expert twist to some American/ English classics. We are pleased that we allowed the waitress to guide our dish choices, as we know of others, who have under ordered on some dishes and over on some others. We would certainly suggest asking the waitresses to guide you through the menu even if you are somewhat adverse to this kind of thing. Our only slight criticism is that we had to wait a good while for service when we did require assistance and sometimes the service was a little clumsy and amateurish. I think this is me being picky and it might well have been a one off but I feel I ought to mention this. None the less we will certainly be coming back and highly recommend the Duck And Waffle for a group meal, for a special occasion. It is definitely not one of these try hard restaurants, but one that wants to please the five senses.
Food Atmosphere Service