Monday, 31 December 2012

Duck & Waffle

My last post of 2012 is reserved for a meal at one of the years most hyped restaurants, Duck & Waffle on the 40th floor of the Heron Tower. 

It was Thomas' birthday meal and I tried (and failed) to coincide our seating with the sunset, not remotely visible either from where we were sitting, or at all through the heavy covering of grey clouds over the city.  It did mean that we sat down at 3:30 and were given the brunch menu to choose from. 

As we arrived, about 2 minutes late, we were asked to wait at the bar.  They were super busy so it was a while until we were handed drinks menus but everyone was friendly and apologetic about the wait, around 15 mins in all.  The views kept us occupied.

We started with some champagne, half a dozen Carlingford rock oysters (£2.50 each) and the bacon wrapped dates (£7.50).  The dates were wonderful, smokey and sweet served with a small salad of dandelion with a glob of linguiça sausage in the centre of each parcel.

Next we ordered the signature dish of duck and waffle (£15) which was definitely our favourite come the end of the night.  I had wanted to have the steak and eggs benedict with ox cheek but they were out.  The confit duck leg with waffle, fried duck egg and maple syrup with mustard seeds is quite brilliant.  Richer and more satisfying than the example of the dish served with bacon.

The duck egg en cocotte (£10) reaffirmed my hatred of serving egg dishes in scorching hot pans, might look pretty but unless you down the yolk immediately, it invariably overcooks and disappoints.  Otherwise the combination of truffle, gruyére, mushrooms and soldiers was lovely.

We shared all the dishes and our final non sweet selection was the tomato and goat cheese bread which we pimped up with N'duja spicy sausage (£8).  It was a slight let down as it followed such strong dishes but the sausage packed a decent punch and the cheese and the cherry tomatoes were fine quality ingredients, there just wasn't quite enough of them.

To finish we had the spicy ox cheek doughnut with apricot jam (£8) and the selection of macaroons (£8) best of which was the salted caramel.  Other flavours included pina colada, green tea and chocolate and passionfruit.  The doughnut wasn't what I'd hoped it would be, I felt the smoked paprika was a bit overpowering but the doughnut texture itself was spot on, and I'm not usually a fan.

We had a lot of drinks, champagne and red wine by the glass, priced at £12.50 and £12 a glass respectively.  It's pretty pricy, the cheesebread in particular seemed way steep, a £3 mark up for a meagre sprinkling of N'duja but it does feel like a special occasion venue and those views are spectacular.  It was all the more sweet as it marked my return to the city after a week in Kent for Christmas, and it feels so good to be back.  I wish I was there tonight to see the NYE fireworks from up high, maybe next year. 

Duck & Waffle
Heron Tower

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Sunday, 30 December 2012


Newcomer to the MEAT empire, MEATmission is (for the next week or so, or until word properly gets out) your best way procuring a beloved MEATliquor/ MEATmarket burger without the hassle of queueing.  When I visited a couple of weeks ago there was no sign of a queue all evening.  

They offer many of the same food stuffs and way more beyond what we're used to.  The menu is split into inna bun, onna plate and bits and pieces and we had to try the monkey fingers (£7) from latter section.  Marinated and battered chicken fillets served with blue cheese sauce which was sadly absent from our tray but delivered upon request.  These were magnificent, tangy and not greasy in the slightest.  Wickedly moreish and a brilliant addition bolstering an already strong repertoire of trashy delights.   

The onna plate section of the menu sees an introduction of such delights as red in bread, chilli con carne served in an edible bread bowl then covered with cheese, onions, mustard and jalapenos, and the garbage plates, available in either chilli, beef or roast beef incarnations.  They are a lot of food, so on this occasion we skipped them and moved swiftly onto burgers.

This beauty is the bacon cheeseburger (£7), also new to me.  I've always gone for the dead hippie before, but this is definitely worth a look in.  A round almost caramelised bacon slice perches on top of the patty, which, for me, still has the tastiest char around.  Red onions, oozing cheese, lettuce, mustard and ketchup rounding it all off nicely.  We had plenty of cocktails throughout the evening, starting with the pinot grinchio a refreshing white wine and apple combo served with a minty candy cane.  We both also had fries and paid only £27.50 each, it's still a right bargain. 

The usual MEAT rules apply for the time being, turn up and queue, but this will change at MEATmission in 2013.  You'll actually be able to book.  You'll be able to take out during off peak hours but they'll be closed Sunday and Monday.  I love everything about all of them,  I've said it before and I say it again now, these are my favourite burgers in London.  Go before it gets mental.

14-16 Hoxton Market
Shoredicth, N1

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Wednesday, 5 December 2012

Bone Daddies

I popped into Bone Daddies last Tuesday to see what all the fuss was about.  London is in the midst of a ramen takeover, Tonkotsu, Ittenbari to name the first wave, there will be plenty more popping up, no doubt.

I really liked Bone Daddies and will definitely be back to try more.  I went for the classic tonkotsu variety, 20 hour pork bone broth with chashu pork slices and spring onion.  I also got an extra egg garnish because I have a thing about boiled eggs, £11 altogether.

The first sip of the broth was fragrant and smoky, it was just the thing to brighten one up on a cold dreary London day in December.  The wait wasn't even too bad, arriving at 7:30 we were seated by 8.  We were by the door though and with newcomers joining the queue and leaving the door open we repeatedly fell prey to a vicious draught. 

We snacked on some brilliant cabbage and miso (£2.50) and the fried chicken with lemon wedge (£5) whilst we waited for the ramen to arrive.  To drink, we opted for tap water and hot sweet sake, Ozeki Ginkan (Honjozo), £6 for 150ml. 

We had to ask for some napkins several times before they materialized, and it was too late for my cream silk top which ended the meal with several splatters, this says more about my appalling handling of chopsticks than anything though.  Otherwise, service was friendly and relaxed.

I preferred this bowl to the equivalent at Tonkotsu and can't wait to try the tantanmen ramen, a spicier broth with minced meat.  Australian chef Ross Shonhan has clearly done a lot of research into the items on the menu here and it's paid off.  The food feels very authentic and the atmosphere of the place is in keeping with current London trends, loud music, bright and garish decor etc.  If the unanimously positive early reviews are a sign of successes to come, we might even see expansion of the brand, and I for one will definitely be seeing a lot more of the place. 

Bone Daddies
31 Peter Street

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