Friday, 31 January 2014

uyen luu's vietnamese supper club - review

It’s Chinese New Year today. An observation difficult to miss what with the press coverage, fireworks, liberal references to ‘galloping’ over the year’s threshold (it’s that of the horse), and a heightened buzz about all the Chinatowns of the world as preparations for festivities and feasting are in full swing. 

Whilst Chinese New Year is well-represented across the globe, it is probably less commonly known (at least, I didn’t know) that today is also Tết, Vietnamese New Year. It’s the most important of the country’s annual festivities and falls on the same day as the Chinese celebrations as it is based on their calendar. 

By a very well-placed coincidence and with no prior knowledge of what Tết was, myself and some friends happened to have long-overdue spaces secured at Uyen Luu’s Vietnamese Supper Club for this very evening - happy new year indeed.

With around 29 guests packed into the long and narrow living room of Uyen’s East London home and with the help of an assistant, the evening saw our tables furnished with signature light and fragrant plates - slow-cooked meats, fresh vegetables and some bites packing powerful chilli punches. 

Summer rolls were large, fat and firm; the taught translucent rice paper skin partially concealing plump prawns. A crisp and vibrant cross-section - green from cockscombe, perilla, garlic chives, mint and coriander - revealed itself after the first bite. One of these dipped into the pineapple and chilli sauce was light enough to sit very eloquently atop my meat-heavy lunch, and I was very grateful for it.

If it being Tết meant this was my annual opportunity to get my chops around some Vietnamese New Year sticky rice cake (banh chung), then thank crikey for the timing, because whilst it didn’t look especially promising, this was my favourite plate. Served with mung bean, pork belly, thick soy, Vietnamese sausage and pickled leeks, the flavours were strong and unafraid to give you a shake by the jowls. Not to mention the glutinous rice, soft meat and crunchy pickles providing a great texture combination.


Tender slithers of rump steak cooked with lemongrass and tightly wrapped in betal leaves with a peanut sauce were slender fingers of savoury satisfaction, and the zesty salad platters of carrot, cucumber, mint, poached prawns and pork belly were vibrant, vivid and full of vitality.

A combination of soft pork and prawn manipulated around the end of a stick of sugar cane had all the novelty (to those not already acquainted with these) of a grown up lollipop. The meat is eaten first, followed by mastication (but not consumption) of the cane to extract the sweet juices. My Taiwanese companion has tried a lot of these and declared at the table with full conviction, ‘these are the best I’ve ever had’.  

The meat of the slow-cooked pork belly in coconut water was a little tough, but the fat was buttery and rich, served with pickled lotus stems with a pixie-like beauty in their miniature seven-holed cross sections. Their fibre can be pulled into strings as fine as spider silk with your teeth, as demonstrated by the Taiwanese in the know (the rest of us were squealing like the kids with lollipops we were).


A chicken and bamboo noodle soup had wonderful soft meat and a delicate, refreshing broth - the tiny slices of red chillies served on a side plate were fruity and hot enough to blow the top of your head off and melt the contents, like a soft boiled egg.

To cool the tongue, an avocado and coconut sorbet. A novel flavour and one that grows with every spoonful - at first interpreted as frozen salad. But the fatty creaminess of avocado is in fact a great medium for a dessert expected to have similar qualities. It worked really well - I’d like to have this again. The little ginger biscuits were excellent and I shoved another three in my mouth that were sitting in a bowl by the front door on my way out.

The full throes of friends enjoying good food and wine was enjoyed at a high decibel and with temperatures a tad too toasty - that many people in a standard-sized living space next to a kitchen that’s been flat out all day will do that. 

Whilst portion sizes need to be more consistent (both my banh chung and pork belly were much smaller than my companions) and perhaps two summer rolls and lollipops served each rather than one (to fill any remaining space in the gut on departure), every course was thoroughly enjoyable and very well received.


The donation for this supper club is £35 plus a little extra suggested for the helper - so £40. The value is good, but doesn’t quite match others that have either had more food, included welcome drinks and canapés, used some luxury ingredients, or all of the above, for the same or similar price. That said, it’s a great introduction to the supper club scene and we had a riot. You’ll find future dates of Uyen’s supper club on her website.

A huge thanks to Uyen’s hard work and for dishing out some very good food.

Liked lots: all of the food, but particularly the banh chung Vietnamese New Year cake and avocado sorbet 
Liked less: it was a little too toasty and noisy - could perhaps do with a few less people; without sounding like a pig, one more course would have gone down well 
Good for: an introduction to the London supper club scene

My rating:
3.5

Afiyet olsun.

Tuesday, 28 January 2014

chef franck raymond masterclass at augustine kitchen - event

January can be a bleak month. Meals are dry, Mondays are blue, the need for an ark seems more pressing, and it’s an eternity until payday. When thinking of dinner options during this dreary time of year, salads tend to feature low on the list - after macaroni cheese, roast chicken, linguine carbonara, dauphinois and cake.

When the wet and grey has us following our noses towards every hot carb-based dish wafting past like a police bloodhound at an abandoned warehouse rave, the revitalising qualities a fresh and vibrant salad can provide is a welcome interjection against a sorry month of overeating, 5:2 fasting or paleo preoccupation. 


An evening hosted by Chef Franck Raymond at his recently-opened French restaurant
Augustine Kitchen in Battersea shared the secrets to a handful of salad recipes with a group of snap-happy food bloggers eager to sample the results. Cast aside preconceptions of limp lettuce and dull dressings, these were salads I would consider over a hunk of flaky slow-cooked meat (maybe), with recipes involving scallop ceviche, duck, puy lentils, Thai flavours, and more.

Franck talked us through anecdotal stories from his yesteryears whilst demonstrating some leafy handiwork; children always make salad dressings in French households, a true Nicoise only has raw vegetables, and his mother used a wooden spoon to combine her dressings and therefore, so does Franck. 


Life is all about balance, and what better way to highlight the light and rejuvenating qualities of a vitamin-packed salad than by contrasting it against glasses of bubbly and an oven dish heavy with gooey cheese-covered potatoes and bacon - the Alpine wonder that is a tartiflette. The sort of dish a day of hard exertion on the slopes would earn; I had been strenuously sitting at a desk. 

Served piping-hot, it is savoury and hearty and utterly comforting - the type of food tongues are burnt on because it is just too much to ask to wait for it to cool. 

Augustine understand the need for such plated pleasures for when the nights are dark and long - luckily for us they’re running Tartiflette Tuesday’s during the month of February which includes a hefty helping of this ski resort classic along with a green salad and the house aperitif of sparkling rosé for £14.95.

In the meantime and if Tuesday is just too far away, you'll find the recipe below to have a go yourself.


Chef Franck Raymond's Tartiflette


Serves 6

450g potatoes, cubed
160g smoked bacon, diced
200g onions, diced
300ml dry white wine
30g butter 
220g Reblochon cheese, rind removed and cubed
250ml crème fraîche
750ml semi-skimmed milk
2g chicken bouillon granules

Salt and pepper 


Keep the chopped potatoes in water until you're ready to cook them to prevent discolouration. Boil in fresh water until al dente, and drain. Add a pinch of salt during their last 2 minutes of cooking.

In the meantime, sauté the onions in the butter in a frying pan until softened. Add the white whine and cook further until the liquid has reduced to a syrupy consistency.

In a separate pan, fry the bacon - there is no need to add any fat. When it's cooked, slowly add it to the onions, combine well and allow to rest.

Preheat the oven to 200C.

Heat the milk and crème fraîche in a saucepan and add the cheese - keep some of the cheese aside to use later. Continue to heat until the cheese has melted and the liquid has reduced by half. Add a pinch of salt and the bouillon.

In the same frying pan you cooked the bacon, sauté the potatoes in a little butter or oil until lightly browned. Add to this the onions and bacon and combine well. Pour this mix into a baking dish, and pour the cheese sauce over the top to cover evenly. Top with the remaining cheese you kept aside. 

Cook in the oven for 10 minutes until golden brown.

Be prepared for the onset of hibernation almost certain to follow.

Afiyet olsun.

Saturday, 25 January 2014

great british chefs supperclub by selina periampillai - review

There are few things more attractive on a Saturday afternoon than the prospect of an extended multi-course lunch in the comfort of a friend's home, with fellow food-nut obsessives and menu items devised by some of the UK’s top chefs. It has all the necessary elements to guarantee a good story - wonderful food and raucous company, not to mention no washing up (for the guests at least).




Such was the invitation I found myself RSVP-ing to with great enthusiasm last week; a meal hosted and cooked by Selina Periampillai from Yummy Choo Eats was the format of the afternoon. All we had to do to earn such a treat was share a little about the evening and the recipes through our blogs; I know a good deal when I see one.

am well acquainted with Selina’s tasty handiwork, from the Mauritian pop-up I scoffed my way through with all the fervour of a bullmastif on a new chew toy, to the food stall Selina has commandeered at several events I’ve attended, to an educational dhal puri making class taught in Balham - the girl can cook.


All dishes on the agenda were chosen from the vast database of recipes found on the Great British Chefs website - a well-known digital publisher providing those who are partial to cooking up a storm with an unrivalled collection of over 1500 recipes and tips from the best chefs in the country. Staying close to where Selina’s cooking expertise lie, the plates selected were mostly of Indian and tropical heritage, fanning our appetites with bold, fresh flavours and vibrant colours.

A bottle of wine to compliment each course was kindly selected and provided by Corney & Barrow, independent wine merchants since 1780. Entertainment came in the form of wonderful dining companions and fellow food-fanatics of the London food scene: @Clerkenwell_boy, Katy from @Feelgd_Foodbk, Laura from , and Sally from @thecafecat.  


Here's the running order of the feast we devoured over several hours, the recipes on the Great British Chefs website, and the chef who invented it:


Starters


Mains


Dessert


A huge thanks to Selina for putting in the hard work to host and feed us for the day, to Great British Chefs for the recipes and ingredients, and for Corney & Barrow for the very quaffable lubrication.

Until next time.

Afiyet olsun.

Wednesday, 22 January 2014

RECIPE: chicken saag and coriander chapatis

chicken saag and coriander chapatis
As the ever-perceptive Homer Simpson once sang whilst shaking his backside in a conga line during an archetypal The Simpsons moment, “You don’t win friends with salad”.

Unless, you can transform a load of greens into something everyone wants to eat - a curry. A great tasting one at that and likely to be healthier than most ‘salads’ on the market.

I've come across a fantastic 7,000 word article covering the 34 science-backed health benefits of spinach written by Helen Nichols over on Well-Being Secrets. Awesome bedtime reading, should you still needed convincing about spinach.

A chicken saag is a curry consisting of the meat cooked in a spiced sauce made from some type of leafy green - mustard leaves, finely chopped broccoli, fenugreek (methi) or in this case, spinach. There is a lot of good in this dish and it’s low in fat. So it’s a good option for all the self-restraint we’re (supposed to be) exercising at this time of year. Serve with rice to mop up the sauce, or some warm and freshly made coriander chapatis (below).


Chicken Saag 

Serves 4


260g fresh spinach leaves

1 thumb sized piece of fresh ginger, chopped
3 green chillies
2 garlic cloves
30ml rapeseed oil
8 whole black peppercorns
3 bay leaves
1 tsp cumin seeds, ground (or ready ground cumin)
1 tsp coriander seeds, ground (or ready ground cumin)
2 small white onions, chopped
4 tomatoes, chopped
2 tsp mild madras curry powder
1 tsp garam masala
4 skinless chicken thighs with bone, flesh scored
4 skinless chicken legs with bone, flesh scored
5 tbsp low fat yoghurt
Sea salt
Coriander leaves (optional)


Cook the spinach in a pan with a tight fitting lid on a medium heat until wilted - there is no need to add water or oil. Push it about a bit with a wooden spoon. Once wilted, transfer the spinach to a food processor. Add the ginger, chillies (de-seed them if you want to remove some of the heat), garlic and 50ml of water. Blitz until smooth.

Pour the oil into the same pan and on a medium heat, fry the peppercorns and bay leaves until the former begin to pop. Add the cumin and coriander, stir, and cook for a further minute. Add the onions and a pinch of salt, stir and cover. Cook until soft and brown, about 10 minutes - give the onions a nudge now and again with the spoon to prevent any sticking.

Tip Retain any water that condenses in the lid when you lift it to stir - allow it to fall back into the onions.

Add the tomatoes, stir and cook for another 3 minutes. Add the garam masala and curry powder and cook for further 3 minutes.

To this pan add the spinach mix, combine well and cook for another 5 minutes. Stir in the yoghurt, a tablespoon at a time. When fully mixed, add the chicken and combine until they're well coated. Simmer with the lid on until the chicken is cooked through, about 20 minutes. Remove the lid and raise the heat so the sauce begins to boil. Keep stirring and turn off the heat once you’re happy with the consistency of the sauce. Taste for seasoning and feel free to add more yoghurt if it has too much chilli heat.

Serve in warmed bowls with a sprinkle of fresh coriander leaves, a drizzle of yoghurt and some coriander chapatis (below). And by the way, this tastes even better the next day.

288 kcal per serving*


Coriander Chapatis

Makes 15

300g chapati flour
1 tsp rapeseed oil
80g coriander leaves, finely chopped
5g sea salt
2 tbsp low fat natural yoghurt

Sift the flour into a large bowl and add the coriander, salt and oil. To this add 3/4 cup of warm water and the yoghurt. Combine in the bowl with a wooden spoon until it creates one mass and then turn out onto a floured surface. Knead for 10 minutes or until smooth, no longer sticky and it springs back if you poke it. Place the dough into an oiled bowl, cover with a tea towel and leave to rest in a warm place for 15 minutes.

Divide the mass into 15 equal pieces. To do this weigh the whole mass and divide by 15 - the result is how much each piece should weigh, around 45g. Roll each piece into a ball between the palms of floured hands. With a rolling pin and on a floured surface, roll each ball out into the shape of a rough circle with the thickness of a 50p coin (around 2mm).


Heat a non-stick frying pan or tawa over a high heat for a minute. Put a chapati in the pan - when it begins to puff up and bubble, turn it over. You want each side to have browned and blistered a bit. Repeat with the rest of the chapatis. Don't over cook these or they will become hard.

Tip As each chapati is cooked, place it in a pile with the rest and keep the pile wrapped in a clean tea towel, rather than on a cold plate for example. This will prevent any condensation gathering under the bread.

These are wonderful eaten warm and fresh. Alternatively, keep them in an airtight container and consume within a day or so. Or you can wrap them in cling film and freeze them. If you do, place them in a warm oven to thoroughly heat up before serving.

71 kcal per chapati*

Afiyet olsun.

*calories are a close approximation calculated using My Fitness Pal.

Monday, 20 January 2014

the quality chop house, clerkenwell - review


Life is full of decisions we would rather not make. Do the dishes or eat off paper plates indefinitely? Devise a long term career plan or just make it into work each morning and hope for the best? Accept my mother’s friend invite on Facebook or actively avoid the issue?

None more so than the daily dilemma of what to eat that evening. Whether at home and faced with the meagre offerings from the tail end of the week’s shop, or in a restaurant toying between the duck or pork whilst tagging the tweet about your plight with
#firstworldproblems (please don’t), deciding what to eat can be a challenge.

Take this fickle element out of the equation and I am thrown back to the simpler days of my childhood; ‘you will eat what I give you and you will finish it’. Thankfully, my parent’s cooking was and still is great, so I always did. When a restaurant plays mum for the evening (albeit one that lets me drink a lot more wine), I am both grateful and drawn to it. ‘Finish it!’, you say? ‘Enjoy it!’, you demand? Well, MAYBE I WILL.



Both of which happened at The Quality Chop House on Farringdon Road, where the chefs write three menus each day based on the produce delivered that morning. In the evening you’ll find a set menu in the Dining Room for £35 with four starters, a main and a dessert, all for the table to share. There is no picking, no choosing - you receive it all and you ultimately enjoy it all.


It’s full of old-world charm and that type of shabby chic floral bijoux crockery that in the hands of the wrong host and along with a room full of kitsch chintz can be utterly nauseating. But against the stalwart-Grandad masculinity of dark wood panelling, a handsome check floor and the creaking booths of a Grade-II listed establishment in its 145th year (opened in 1869), it is thoroughly charming.


Great textures were found in the smooth, delicate mounds of goat curd on bitter chicory, topped with toasted hazelnuts and a drizzle of fruity oil. Smoked salmon, horseradish crème fraîche and dense rye linked pinkies and promised to be best friends forever. Soft and gamey slow-cooked partridge leg meat was re-shaped and breaded around the bone into pleasing spheres.



A bed of salty smoked cod’s roe expertly seasoned the purple sprouting broccoli, still with good resistance between the teeth. And the plate of earthy wild mushrooms with an effortlessly glossy chicken liver parfait had a few sails of crisp chicken skin at the centre and tasted even better than that reads.


A huge platter of silverside and smoked brisket, celeriac purée and golden beetroot, breaded bone marrow and roasted carrots flounced its way onto our table, all showy and attention seeking, with a great sense of celebration and sharing that family Sunday lunches do so well (even though it was Wednesday). The meat was either pink or flakey, both desirable adjectives for beef. The side of kale was vibrant and well seasoned. And the plates were cleared in their entirety.

Tart rhubarb with meringue, flaked almonds and ice cream was the sort of dessert you could have three of. The cheeses were bold and British, seducing with their first whiff and crumbly oatcake comrades; that day Tunworth, Montgomery, Colston, Innes Brick. Petit fours were dark chocolate covered honeycomb bites, essentially high-end Crunchie and what the hell is not to love about that.



For those who prefer to exercise their freedom of choice, the
Wine Bar (the room next door) has a daily-changing a la carte of which I hear very good things. Next door to that is their Food Shop and Butchers selling all manner of stock from British cheeses and charcuterie to their own produce; think conserves, preserves, smoked fish, terrines, parfait, pies, sweet treats, a daily roast meat sandwich or hot sausage roll, and more.

The Quality Chop House is a rare breed: self-assured and unfussed cooking without pretence, showcasing quality ingredients and with good wine. It’s the sort of reliable, honest food you can imagine eating every day, if you had a larger bank balance and higher metabolism. It's just as well I don’t live any closer. 

Liked lots: interiors, wholesome hearty food, wonderful warm welcome, relaxed atmosphere, the illusion I could quite easily eat this stuff every day; value for money, kindly substituting two portions of rhubarb for cheese and including it as part of the menu, the wine
Liked less: the kale was a little too seasoned but who the hell cares, we finished it
Good for: everyday eating, unfussy great food, buying produce

My rating: 4/5


Find the menu on Zomato

Afiyet olsun.

The Quality Chop House on Urbanspoon 
Square Meal

Wednesday, 15 January 2014

The British Kebab Awards 2014

‘Garlic sauce, chilli sauce?'. Possibly the most pertinent question to ask anyone under the influence at 2am on a Friday night. The only acceptable answer to which is of course, ‘both’. Plus extra pickled chillies.

Few would dispute the kebab has a firm foothold in the market of the post-pub and club hordes seeking the satiety only hot salty meat and grease can provide once the night buses begin. But the breadth of offerings from this staple of Turkish cuisine (and so many others) stretches far beyond messy late night encounters.


The heights to which a quality kebab can be elevated when executed with the care, skill and expertise passed down through generations is beginning to reveal itself. The kebab, in its fullest sense, is making inroads into Britain’s competitive dining industry.

A quick glance at Wikipedia and you’ll find no less than 39 entries under ‘Turkish kebabs’. From the İskender (doner meat served with yogurt, tomato sauce and butter - my favourite) and kuzu incik (lamb shanks mixed with peeled aubergine, chopped tomatoes and cream), to the kuyu kebabı (whole lamb cooked over a low heat in a pit for hours) and ciğerli kağıt kebabı (lamb liver mixed with meat and marinated with thyme, parsley and dill), the list is long and inviting. And where better for the country to declare its love for this glorious food stuff than at the annual British Kebab Awards, now in its second year. 

With the full force of five star treatment such an event deserves, the Ballroom of the Park Lane Sheraton hosted last night’s gala event sponsored by Just-Eat, pleasing a heaving crowd of press, politicians, food writers, celebrities, chefs, and the nominees.

A round of applause to the organisers for quashing fears of generic hotel catering fodder in favour of a Turkish menu (with a few Indian entries), and to the chefs themselves for rustling up a really good spread.



Nominations and Judging

Nominations were taken from both the general public and local politicians, as well as directly from businesses wishing to put forward their own name. Submissions fell into any number of 12 categories including: Best Newcomer, Best Chef, Best Value, Best Takeaway in (and outside) London, Best for Fine Dining, and more.

The point scoring process involved all areas that contribute to an award-worthy meal; as well as taste, notes were taken on health and hygiene, the dining environment, and service. Those with the highest hygiene rating of 5 bestowed by their local authority received an automatic 500 point boost, and any recommendations from local councillors and politicians, after consulting with their constituents, received a further 250 points. Every public vote from then on scored 2 points.

The question on all of our lips is, does the judging panel get to taste their way through these crème de la crème nominations? Yes (quickly followed by ‘how do I get on it’ - lucky sods). From kitchen cleanliness to storage facilities to the kebab experience as a whole, assessment is thorough with the reports collated, worked through and winners decided last week.



Winners

Many congratulations to all the nominees, and in particular the winners. Take note and add these to your eating out hit list - I already have:

JUST EAT BEST DELIVERY RESTAURANT

  • Mozz Restaurant - 887 green lanes, London,  N21 2QS

BEST NEWCOMER KEBAB RESTAURANT

  • Kervan Gokyuzu - 183 High Road, Wood Green, London, N22 6BA – WINNER
  • Efes Restaurant - 230 commercial road ,London E1 2NB –  HIGHLY RECOMMENDED 

YOUNG RESTAURATEUR OF THE YEAR

  • Mazlum and Serdar Demir - brothers of Skewd Kitchen, 12 Cockfosters Parade, London, EN4 0BX

BEST CHEF AWARD OF THE YEAR

  • Ali Dirik of Mangal 2

BEST YOUNG CHEF OF THE YEAR

  • Haydar Polat of Troia Restaurant

BEST RELATED BUSINESS OF THE YEAR

  • QUIK CUT- quik-cut.com, 73 Thurlstone Road, Penistone, Sheffield, S36 9EF

 OUTSTANDING CONTRIBUTION TO THE KEBAB INDUSTRY (three awards)

  • VATAN CATERING - Mill Mead Industrial Centre, N17 9QU  
  • TEES LTD - Cromwell Industrial Estate, Staffa Road, E10 7QZ
  • EFES NAVSTAR LTD - 76 Kilbirnie Street, Glasgow  

BEST VALUE RESTAURANT

  • Likya Ocakbasi -  68-70 Golders Green Rd, London NW11 8LN

BEST  TAKEAWAY KEBAB SHOP OUTSIDE LONDON

  • Best Kebab at 5 West St, Southend on Sea, Essex SS2 6HH  – WINNER
  • Bullring Chippy4 St Johns, Worcester WR2 5AH – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

BEST TAKEAWAY KEBAB SHOP IN LONDON

  • The Best Turkish Kebab - 25 Stoke Newington Road, N16 8BT – WINNER
  • Charcoal Grill - 12 Chase Side, Southgate, London, N14 5PA – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

CUSTOMER SATISFACTION

  • Kazan Restaurant - 93-94 Wilton Road, Victoria, SW1V 1DW - WINNER
  • Capital Restaurant - 271 Fore St, London N9 0PD – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

FINE DINING

  • Sheesh Chigwell - Ye Old Kings Head, High Road, Chigwell, Essex, IG7 6QA – WINNER
  • Hazev - Discovery Dock West, 2 S Quay Square, Greater London E14 9RT – HIGHLY RECOMMENDED

For a sector worth £2.2 billion to the British economy each year and responsible for 17,000 businesses employing 70,000 people each week, the kebab industry is certainly not one to shake a soggy pitta at. 

As both the daughter of a Turkish Cypriot and a food nut, I’m thrilled to see the kebab and those who are really good at making them, get the recognition they deserve.

Afiyet olsun. 

Sunday, 5 January 2014

duck & waffle, liverpool street - review

Perhaps the air is a little thinner 40 floors above London. Perhaps it’s the threat of vertigo when peering over the precipice. It could even be the vitalising qualities of a room flooded with natural light from the wrap around floor-to-ceiling windows. Whatever the reasons, dining at Duck & Waffle made me feel a bit giddy, in a good way.

There are a couple of uncommon attributes occasionally found within the London dining scene that come together here: it is the highest restaurant in the UK (with the spectacular views to go with that accolade) and it welcomes and serves people at any hour of every day. Combine these two crowd-pleasers with very agreeable things coming from the kitchen and striking interiors, and you’ve got something that feels quite special.


Whilst there are a handful of menus on the website reminding us of the times at which most eat during a day, the vast array of offerings these imply is mostly an illusion - bar a couple of exceptions and the compulsory presence of eggs at breakfast and brunch, they are almost identical.

Dishes at 11am on a Sunday contain a few expected dependables - English breakfasts, pastrami on sourdough, fried eggs and mushrooms. For the adventurous, a good proportion are more reflective of the kitchen's creativity with an ‘I want to return for that’ intrigue almost certainly securing a subsequent visit - spicy ox cheek doughnuts with apricot jam, foie gras crème brûlée with butter roasted Scottish lobster, raw yellowfin tuna with chilli watermelon.

Firmly at home in the latter are the BBQ spiced crispy pigs ears - Jay Rayner describes them as tasting like Frazzles and he is spot on. Thin strips, most deep fried to a crunch (some with a less preferable chew) and covered in sweet paprika, I think. Brown paper bagged with the faux-wax duck-on-a-waffle seal spotted around the venue and spots of grease permeating the paper, they were very good.

The dish of smoked mozzarella bears an adjective I was unable to identify, but it was soft and milky and worked wonders with the bite and bitterness from seeds and nuts, all sliced through with some Amalfi citrus.


The namesake dish (unavoidable on a maiden visit) is, I suspect, a novel combination on these shores. But on a recent trip to New York I discovered sweet waffles with savoury meat is typical of southern soul food as seen at Amy Ruth’s in Harlem (where I had the type of fried chicken for which defibrillators were specifically made). 

A suitably spruced up version of that, the Duck & Waffle offering is duck egg, crispy confit leg, waffle, and a glorious mustard maple syrup to bring it together. Described as ‘for the table’, it’s not the easiest to share. And it should come with a whole waffle, not half (it’s only batter after all). Still, the meat was great and I would hope so for £17. Ensue the obligatory bone gnawing following any cooked meat still attached to the bone.

That waffle-half was a tease, the desire for more manifesting in dessert. Belgian waffles with caramelised banana (the surface of which cracked like a crème brûlée); fabulous homemade Nutella dark and viscous and heavy with hazelnut; ice cream; and some crunchy peanut stuff - it was a corker. But again, half a waffle. The torment.

Tables were not all occupied during our visit despite being highly sought after for weekend brunches - I suspect reservations allow two hours but some take less time for their first meal of the day. The atmosphere was light and relaxed with a lot of lively chat. It’s worth noting not all tables are next to the windows and so for many, the unrivalled views over the expanse of the city are obstructed. Had this been the case for my visit I would have been disappointed, as I’m sure others must get. But we were next to glass and the experience was elevated for it.


If the food at Duck & Waffle was served without a view of the horizon, I suspect it would be a little tougher competing with the unending list of both existing and new quality eateries in town, many at more wallet-friendly prices. But with the unique selling points it does have, the dining experience as a whole has successfully differentiated itself from the rest of the market and I think it deserves all the applause for it.

I really liked the place and I’ll return. The romance of an intoxicated just-before-dawn visit to watch the sun rise over our great city with an oyster in hand is what I intend to aim for. Magical, I have little doubt.

Liked lots: design, location, the views, open kitchen, 24/7, creative dishes, those crispy pigs ears..
Liked less: a little pricey but you are of course paying for the privilege of eating from such great heights; not all tables have unobstructed views; waffle dishes should come with a whole waffle and not half
Good for: taking London visitors, impressing, a meal with a view, romantic dates, eating at any time of the day 

My rating: 3.5

Duck & Waffle on Urbanspoon
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