Talking about food: DUCK & WAFFLE, Heron Tower
So me and my mates do a little dance whenever we say Duck and Waffle – we literally 'duck' and then it's a wiggle. We also sometimes call it Fuck and Waffle cos, rhyming. Anyway, we think we're fucking hilarious.
One Friday, very recently, I went and had lunch with my sister, 40 floors above London. It was glorious. Glorious for so many reasons. One, because of my sister. She has an 18 month old son, and is a workaholic, so finding time to have pure uninterrupted Rachel time is like holding riesling in the palm of your hands – thick, heady, goldenness, that would still slip through your fingers, as in, neigh on impossible.
My sister and I are very close. She is one of those incredible people that I want to be one day, (even if she's my little sister). She is currently about to have her second baby (any moment now!), she worked full time till over 8months pregnant, yet I have not heard her complain, once. Plus she is so encouraging, supportive, to the people she works with, as well as her madcap sisters and all her friends. She is generous and incredibly funny! So, with the knowledge that baby two was around the corner, we realised that this was possibly The Last Supper - for awhile at least.
Glorious also because the food was surprising. Now for a disclaimer – I know Dan and his food, so this was always going to be a positive account of an eating experience. I had specifically chosen a place I would enjoy the food so I could relax and enjoy the company. But I think that's what made this visit so surprising. I thought I knew what I was getting myself into.
The best surprises and the most excitement happens with delicacy. I always say that the most dangerous theatre or art, is one that is kind, gentle, loving; thoughtful and touching work is unnerving, makes you think and breaks down your barriers. If you try to shock me and push my boundaries, I will likely roll my eyes and and feel unmoved. Food is the same. Set me down a path of familiarity and gently awaken my tastebuds; and then without realising it I'm all hot under collar and devouring the plate without a care in the world.
Dan's food is delicate. Bold flavours with delicate touches. And ever so pretty.
One thing about us Masing girls is that we like to eat, and we can eat a lot. I had three glasses of wine and it didn't even touch the sides, that's how much food I ate. (The wine was a delicious Californian chardonnay). So I am only going to talk about three things from the meal, the three things that surprised me the most.
Smoked eels. Pretty, so pretty. With little moments of horseradish jelly and samphire. You could skate your little piece of eel around the plate and pick up different combinations. Each mouthful new, each mouthful perfect. The light smoke, the fresh horseradish – which is surprisingly crisp – leaving your palette clear and clean at the end of the dish.
Donuts. Not going to lie. I thought this was going to be gimmicky. Good, enjoyable, hugely indulgent, but not much more to say. Fuck me I was wrong.
Meaty hearty, with light, rich dough – which should have made the whole thing heavy, but didn't. Don't get me wrong, this was an indulgent plate, but it was not sinking to sit at the bottom of the sea. And chilli. Chilli to cut through the sugary donut coating. Genius. And just as I was thinking I could probably do with a touch more heat, chilli warmed up the back of my mouth. In contrast to the eel, this dish stayed on my tongue in glorious revolution, refusing to stand down, refusing to be forgotten. Playing tango with the light, buttery chardonnay, dancing on my palette.
And finally, the baked alaska. I'm not a baked alaska fan, but it was recommended, so why not. If you do one thing – do this. Do it and fall in love. Just enough softness, just enough texture. Just enough sweetness, just enough bite. A touch of perfume. A touch of fruit. A sprinkle of powder against a dark plate. A dangerous, indulgent romance. And again, your spoon could sweep about the plate creating different combinations, a perfect plate that let me play by my rules. I had been too busy eating and enjoying to stop and take photos, but I couldn't help but pause to take a picture of this – and it was so pretty I didn't even put an instagram filter on it. Flattery!
And last but not least – the service. Lovely smiles, careful attention. I love a good chat, which was exactly what I got! Our server told us about his children (beacause we talked about Rachel having a baby) he told us his favourite dishes and why. He knew what he was serving, he knew the rhythm that we wanted to eat at. Knowledge and personal opinion is important, it gives you choice. If a waiter knows the dishes in detail and why they like a dish, you are able to distinguish if it is also something you would like. And a good waiter lets you disagree with them. We asked a couple of times if we needed to leave soon to allow for another sitting, but the manager was clearly in control of flow of the restaurant and we were able to relax and simply enjoy.
So yea, I'd do it all again! And order all the same things.
There was one thing I was a little disappointed with, the view. I mean, if you're going to be the modern day Mt Olympus, at least try to behave more like Zeus and control the weather – show a bit of drama. I wanted to be “in” the clouds. The only time you are ever amongst the clouds is in an aeroplane - which is not so relaxing. I wanted to have rain lashing against the window, be one with the elements! All I got was miles and miles of London. Sky views, Thames – London as far as the eye could see! I might ask for a discount...
We ate here on Friday 14 November, 2014.