It was Taina’s birthday and my daughter was coming down to London to celebrate that with her friend and for an early celebration of my birthday next Wednesday. I know Taina from Nicola’s hen-do where we travelled to the deep depths of Herefordshire together and made pizza for fourteen in the evening. When you make pizza for fourteen together from stratch, get lost together in darkest Herefordshire with a complete loss of mobile phone signal, you have to become friends! So happily for me I was also invited to Taina’s birthday celebrations, which took place at the UK’s highest restaurant in the City of London – the Duck & Waffle of the 40th floor of Heron’s Tower, on Bishopsgate.
The views are stunning and fortunately for us the rather dreary, damp Saturday changed into a warm bright evening with clouds clearing and the sun at last shining through. It meant we got clear views right across London from our 40th floor tower and it was wonderful. Taina had booked a table weeks before but could only get a 5pm slot – so an early supper. The menu is mainly small plates with a few mains. There were innovative and exciting combinations and some gorgeous breads, from which we chose Rosemary & Garlic and Violet Artichoke & Parmesan.
We were warned of a 10 minute wait while they were baked and they came hot and fresh from the oven. Meanwhile we started on a bottle of prosecco.
The bright open restaurant gives panoramic views. I couldn’t resist getting up and taking more photos – and lots of other people were too. We were near the building known as The Gerkin which is a familiar sight from far across London but we were a lot taller.
The food matched up to the views. It too was excellent. We ordered small plates – and one main of Pea & Mint Ravioli to share.
The ravioli was gorgeous and I’d happily eat a whole plate another time if not sharing so many plates. However, it was fun to try a few things and an ideal way to eat so early in the evening. There were Puy Lentils , Spinach, Sweet Onion, Organic Yoghurt, Miso & Nasturtiums.
As the only beef eaters on the table, Taina and I were able to share a fabulous plate of Angus Beef Tartare with Pickled Onion, Mustard, Marmite Egg Yolk & Dripping Croutes between just the two of us.
Coal Roasted Beetroot, Harissa, Organic Yoghurt, Toasted Seeds & Lemon was as lovely as it sounded with a sure but subtle hint of the smoky coal.
Lovely too was Asparagus, Poached Arlington White Hen’s Eggs, Caesar Hollandaise. The perfectly cooked asparagus, with just the right amount of bite, had a fabulous flavour.
One of the wonderful things about small plates, apart from delicious little treats of many varieties, is that one can indulge well and still have room for dessert. And in the case of Duck & Waffle’s desserts, it was a treat well worth indulging in. Three of us chose Rhubarb & Custard.
How something that sounds so ordinary can look so amazing is because of the addition of vanilla custard, an apple mousse and meringue. It tasted amazing too. Nicola however went for Mushrooms on Toast, which didn’t sound like a pudding until you read that it was almond cake with porcini ganache and brown butter ice cream.
She said it was very good; the texture of the cake much like banana bread. Rachael meanwhile had gone for Baked Alaska with Lemon Curd, Lemon Preserve & Crispy Meringue.
We’d had a two-hour slot for the restaurant table but we didn’t have to move far once our time was up – just round the corner to the bar where cocktails were ordered. The service was brilliant – glasses of iced water automatically brought and frequently topped up as well as the ordered drinks. By now dark was falling and was London lighting up before us and looking wonderful.
Our evening didn’t end there though. Taina had booked at table at Milk & Honey, a cocktail bar for members only or reservations in Soho. I’ve been once before, Nicola many times. We still managed to walk past the entrance because it’s so discreet that even once you’ve located it, it’s not obvious that anywhere as fantastic as Milk & Honey lies behind the plain brown doors. This was a big contrast to the bar at Duck & Waffle. Low lighting, no windows and mellow jazz playing in the background. It was a place to chill, slow down and enjoy the wonderful cocktails that came. I had a Champagne Cocktail _ champagne, cognac and bitters.
It was just right for me – I’m not fond of sweet cocktails but the group – now with an additional three of us – sampled some great combinations. Non-members have to leave at 11.00 but that was fine for us after an early start to our evening. A short walk to Piccadilly Circus and the Underground home. An easy end to a brilliant evening.