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Gymkhana Restaurant Review – Mayfair, London

Gymkhana is another restaurant I only found out about recently after researching gin and food pairing for a recent Cardiff Gin Club collaboration. The restaurant is a Michelin star Indian restaurant located in Mayfair and it was the Pink Gin menu that first caught my attention. None of this sugar laden, plastic pink gin bullshit but how Pink Gin was first drank by the British Navy over 200 years ago, with gin and bitters to give it a pink hue. 

They actually had a use back in those days too with the bitters used to treat sea sickness and counter the effects of not being able to refrigerate food by settling the stomach and aiding digestion. They were also enjoyed by the British in India during the British Raj an hour or two before Sunday tiffin.

After giving the gin and cocktail menu a once over it, it didn’t take me long to cast my gaze over the food menu, which turned out to be just as enticing. With several menus on offer from a la carte, tasting menus and feasting menus with varying number courses and prices for lunch and evening dinning from £25 to £90.

I was keen to visit the venue sometime in the near future when up in the big smoke and it just so happened I booked tickets to Meatopia, which took place a week ago. Wanting to try some the Martinis at Dukes Bar in Mayfair whilst I was up there it made sense to book Dukes Hotel for the night, which meant we were within walking distance of Gymkhana for lunch the following day.

The Venue

The Gymkhana Restaurant was only around 10 minutes walk from Dukes Hotel so we strolled across after checking out for our 12pm table booking. It would only be about 10 minutes from Piccadilly Circus and Carnaby Street too if you’re around the neck of the woods.

Gymkha Restaurant London

The venue is based on the old Gymkhana sports clubs in India that were frequented by high society to drink, eat, socialise and play sport. The theme ran right through the restaurant with dark wooden panelled decor and ceilings, prized stuffed animal heads from hunting and illustrations adorning the walls depicting cricket players, Indian Military officers and polo players throughout. Attention to detail was unreal, right down to the basement toilets with branded water toilet tank and a seating loo seat that resembled an actual throne. This reminded me exactly like the other half’s, aunties toilet in her cottage up in Anglesey. 

Seating consisted of green leather panelled benches around the outside of half of the upstairs with narrow dark wooden tables to seat tables of two. There were a couple of cubicles for larger groups too. We both thought the restaurant looked a bit smaller than we thought it would be upstairs but it was only toward the end of the meal and after visiting the little boys room that I realised there was also another room downstairs that was also full of dinners.

We were sat by the front window, on the corner so we had a full view of the upstairs but also a slightly larger table compared to tables in the middle. This was handy as we had a bit more table surface and saw one table struggle for room with drinks and a selection of plates each that happened to arrive at the same time.

The Food

The Feasting menu or hunters menu featuring 7 courses, which included prawns and a few different game birds costing up to £90 were only available in the evening. We were dinning for lunch so there was either the choice of a la carte, a set lunch menu with 3 courses starting at £25 or 5 courses for £38.50. No prizes for guessing what option we went for. Luckily for us there was a choice of two dishes for each course so we just asked for one of each to share so we got to taste a bit of everything.

Pink Gin menu at Gymkhana London

cocktail menu at Gymkhana London

After picking one of everything from the lunch menu, it was time to delve head first into the drinks menu. I’d seen a thunderbolt G & T on instagram so I was going to order one of those as they looked very nutritious but they didn’t seem to appear on the menu. I was also keen to try some of the pink gin’s with wonderfully flavoured bitters such as dandelion and burdock with Monkey 47. I’d taken some inspiration from the menu and ordered a bottle of the Jindea Single Estate Darjeeling First Flush to pair with the dessert menu at Purple Popadom, which we sweetened to match the sugary creme brûlée with the aid of a Darjeeling tea syrup.

I decided to go off piste for something totally different with a tequila cocktail from the punch and club classics menu called green leaves. This consisted of Tapatio Tequila, cucumber, green chutney cordial, lime and Himalayan salt, which I thought would be a good all rounder to pair with the different courses.

CARMICHAEL CUP cocktail at Gymkhana London

Green leaves tequila cocktail at Gymkhana London

Llio opted for something a bit lighter with an Indian inspired Pimms Royale. This fruity number featured Ciroc vodka, Early Grey tea, elderflower and vetiver grass, lemon, ginger, seasonal fruits and a touch of champagne for elegance.

Although Sake is usually more at home and Japanese restaurants, I read somewhere that the head chef at Gymkhana is looking to start pairing the food with Sake, which will be an interesting change. Sake is derived from rice though, which is a staple in Indian cuisine.

The first of the courses and usually my favourite part of an Indian and that’s the chips and dips. 

I liked that we had a selection of different dipping devices and not just a plate of standard popadoms, each with their own unique flavour and texture. I’d never seen the white bubbly variety called Sabudana Papads, which looked like little slabs of polystyrene at first but tasted a lot better than I’d imagine it’s lookie likey to taste. There wasn’t much of each dip to go around with the amount of chips we had but they were strong and punchy and a little went a long way especially the shrimp dip, which gave a good savoury contrast against the sweet mango chutney.

Potato chaat at Gymkhana Mayfair

The bowl of potato chat, chana masala and tamarind was plentiful and took us in to the first round of the starters. Soft potato and chickpeas layered in a sweet sauce, yogurt and crispy shreds of sev, a fried crispy potato noodle. This was a flavourbomb of textures and flavours that prepared us for the bountiful feast on the senses to come.

It was interesting to see Gymkanas take on some of the popular street food favourites in India compared to some similar dishes I’d tried at Bwyta Bwyd Bombai (3 B’s) in Cardiff, which does a very good selection themselves including the Potato Chat and the next dish coming up, the dosa.

dosa and kid goat methi keema at Gymkhana -London

The dosa is a cripy rice pancake like parcel with a filling and a selection of dips. The pancake can look overwhelming at first but the filling is usually limited to a few spoonfulls in the centre so it’s not too heavy.

This came served at the same time as the kid goat methi keema, salli, pao, which was probably one of my favourite items on the tasting menu. A medium spiced sauce, flaked with goat meat with crispy potato sticks that is meant to be mixed in and sandwiched between a bread roll. A buttery roll with a rich spiced meat and crispy shards of potato. I could of eaten 10 in a row they were divine!

Paneer Tikka at Gymkhana Mayfair

 

Well this is embarrassing. I thought the Paneer Tikka, Cashew Nut, Corn Chat was a stuffed chicken. Paneer if you’ve not tried it is an Indian soft cheese that looks like a cross between halloumi with the softness of tofu. It’s used in many Indian dishes as it keeps it’s shape unlike more well known European cheeses and is good at absorbing the spices and flavours it is cooked in. It also resembles cooked diced chicken if you’ve had too many Martini’s for supper the night before.

fish tasting dish at Gymkhana Mayfair

The Hariyali Bream, Tomato Kachumber was a here or there dish. It was ok but didn’t stand up to the other rich, flavoursome dishes on the menu but it was a pleasant addition of a seafood dish instead of a full on meat feast as I’d eaten half a farm the day before at Meatopia.

We’re now into the mains with two rice dishes, but only because we ordered one of everything to share. The first was a vegetarian dish consisting of wild mushroom, asparagus, morel & truffle pilau and probably my least favourite of the dishes. It’s the first time i’ve ever seen a dish seasoned with fresh truffle instead of the usual salt or pepper so this looked really impressive but I think it was the asparagus i didn’t like in the dish. I do like asparagus but it just wasn’t for me in this.

wild mushroom and truffle pilau at Gymkha Mayfair

The Samudri Seafood Biryani, Pomegranate & Mint Raita was miles ahead for me though and I don’t even like salmon. Generous nuggets of seafood such as prawns and a portion of salmon entombed in golden, perfumed rice, which I piled on top of the huge pile of scorched bread with dollops of Dum Aloo Benarasi & Lasooni Dal.

After soldiering on as best we could, we submitted in defeat at the two rice dishes and bread overload as nice as they were. All was not lost though as everyone knows there’s a second stomach always on standby to be called up when faced with dessert.

With a choice of three desserts we opted for a Mango Shrikhand, Yoghurt & Lime Sorbet and a
Black Carrot Halwa, White Chocolate & Rose Ice Cream to finish off the Indian lunchtime banquet.

Desserts at Gymkhana Mayfair

The Mango shrikhand is a sweet yogurt based dessert mixed with fresh mango that was stuffed in a sweet crunchy tuile like cigar coated in sesame seeds with nuggets of fresh mango and cooling sorbet.

The quenelle of carrot halwa was interesting, which is a sweetened dish made of grated carrots slowly cooked in ghee and milk. It was dense but not sweet enough for my liking but I really liked the white chocolate and rose ice cream it was paired with.

The Verdict

We had an absolute mountain of food between us and got to try all but one dish on the whole tasting menu by ordering one of each of the two options between us. This was Indian food like I’ve never tried and blew every other Indian meal I had out of the water and this was just the introduction to what Gymkhana is capable of. They’ve got a well deserved Michelin Star, based in the heart of Mayfair meaning they’ve got some very affluent customers who will be used to eating very good quality food, so they have to be at the top of their game to survive where they are based.

I didn’t like every dish but I did taste 10 and it’s all down to personal taste. It wasn’t that the food wasn’t good I just didn’t particularly like it myself. We dinned at the lunch time tasting menu and it was excellent value for money for what we had but I would love to go back in the evening to try the feasting or hunters menu featuring more luxurious ingredients. For twice the price I’d be expecting nothing less than a masterpiece but I think they could very well pull it off from what I had at lunch.

I’d also make a bigger dent in the cocktail menu as we dinned at 12 midday and had a day of shopping ahead of us, I didn’t want to go overboard so we only had the one cocktail each.

I would have no hesitation about recommending this restaurant to anyone and would love to dine there again, although I’ve got my eyes set on Dishoom in Shoreditch first before I head back.

We spent £116 for the 5 course taster menu for two and a cocktail each with service charge. The hunters and feasting menu is around £90 each, so I think i’ll have to wait till my birthday for that one.

Final bill at Gymkhana Mayfair

Smoking Goat Restaurant Review Shoreditch London

I’d stumbled on Smoking Goat the week before in London when coming out of Dishoom for an afternoon beer and didn’t have chance to see what they did there.As we were in the neighbourhood walking back from training and with no prior plans we thought we would pop in and see what they had cooking for supper.

This was around 8pm on a Tuesday evening, which if it was Cardiff that’s all you would see was tumbleweed. This however was London and Tuesday or not it was packed out. We asked for a table but were told it would be 45 minute wait.

We put our name down and wandered around the corner to see if we would have anymore luck at Dishoom but that was even worse with them qeueuing to get in outside. Beer o’clock it was then till our table was ready so we nipped across the road for a swift pint at Shoreditch Box park.

kitchen smoking goat bar shoreditch

Time was up and we headed back to the restaurant and were swiftly seated. The restaurant was shrouded in darkness illuminated by beacons of light from the hot coal fired stoves along with dimly lit lights dotted around the venue. Not having had a chance to ponder over the menu, I ordered a Scooner of Beavertown Neck Oil to quence my thirst whilst giving the menu a once over.

The Food

The menu is a take on Thai Street Food with a drinking food section for snacking on with a you’re favourite hopped beverage.

The list included:

  • Chicken heart skewer
  • Barbecue Tamworth skewer
  • Cornish Octopus skewer
  • Northern Thai beef sausage
  • Steamed Menai Oyster
  • Roasted Chilli
  • Northern Thai Beef Sausage
  • Cornish Cockles Naam Jim
  • Chilli Fish Sauce Wings
  • Cured Monkfish, Young Ginger
  • Northern Duck Laab

I would of gone all out on at least half the items on the above menu but I was out with work so I pretended to be normal for the outing so we only went for the Northern Thai Beef Sausage and the Northern Duck Laab.

Having visited Thailand a few years back on the way home from Oz I was stupid enough to travel without my jabs so I was gutted I couldn’t make the most of the street food found on the side of the road out there although I did try one thing and that was a garlic sausage.

Bloody hell was it intense! I can still taste the overpowering roundhouse kick of garlic now but this Thai sausage cut into bitesized slices was a bit less punchy on the garlic side but god damn delicious none the less. We ordered two for the table of 4 where I’d wished I’d had one for myself.

northern duck laab smoking goat bar shoreditch

The Northern Duck Laab came with a health warning when ordering. Well not so much a health warning but I was made aware that it was the hottest thing on the menu and not for the faint hearted. A few of the other group seemed keen to try as they said they liked spicy food so we took a punt. I’d never heard of a Laab before but seemed to consist of ground meat with what i could only describe as half and half with sliced chillies, it was ferocious!

On the first bite you have a hit of fragrant meaty nuggets, crunchy texture and quite nutty flavour. I couldn’t work out if it was ground rice or chilli seeds I was chewing on but it didn’t take long for the powerful heat to tear through from my shoulders and up the back of my head and then came the sweats and sniffles. It came with a side bowl of spiced vinegar from what I could gather, so I gave a little dousing over the rice to try and tame it as best I could.

Everyone else bowed out after a spoonfull or two so I took one for the team and went at it alone putting on a brave face. Don’t get me wrong the dish was tasty as hell but it didn’t half pack a punch on the spice-o-meter.

Up next was the mains and not been here before we thought we would order one main each and share a couple of bowls of rice. How wrong were we. The waitress laughed when we read out the 5 mains between 4 of us. Fair play to her though she could of just taken the order but she assured us that the portions were very generous, which saved us a couple of quid.

barbeque goat massaman smoking goat shoreditch london

We went for one of the Barbecue Goat Turmeric Massaman as a couple of the group had never tried goat and seeing that it was in the name of the restaurant how could you not. We opted for 2 portions of the smoked brisket drunken noodles and some bowls of jasmine rice and lardo fried rice.

I grabbed the goat dish as soon as it hit the table, which gave absolutely no resistance to my fork when pulling at it. The flesh was so tender. Sadly in a rush I forgot to spoon some of the curry sauce it was steeped in and by the time the others had finished sharing it out there wasn’t any left. The curry flavoured with fermented shrimp paste, lemongrass, tamarind and a kick from thai spices. The goat was soft and gently spiced and on the other end of the spectrum compared to the lab in terms of heat but was very welcomed. Even though it had been cooked low and slow judging by the texture but it could of been a tad warmer when it was served as it was a little cold by the time it reached us.

smoked brisket drunken noodles smoking goat shoreditch

As it was pretty dark in the restaurant I couldn’t quite see what I was spooning onto my plate when it came to the brisket drunken noodles. I’d bagged myself a decent portion it seemed but I don’t think I managed to  get a single shred of the beef but what I did have was spot on with lingering flavours of holy basil and wild ginger.

I struggled on with the plate of Duck laab into the mains so sprinkled the remnants on my lardo fried rice not to waste it. The lardo rice was a healthy portion of fried rice with chunks of house cured back and belly of Tamworth pig fat nestled amongst the the fragrant rice with side of hot nam prik chilli dip. This was packed full of flavour and liked the dip so you could season to taste. The left over laab added an extra kick of heat too.

empty plates at smoking goat bar shoreditch

The Verdict

I really enjoyed my first visit to Smoking Goat as I love a bit of Thai but it was unlike anything you would or what i’ve found in and around Cardiff with more of a street food late night Thai canteen vibe to it. I couldn’t get over how cheap it was not only for London considering I’d had a takeaway in Cardiff for two for more than we spent per person here and I was still hungry with that. The portion sizes are very generous and mains only around £13 and more than enough for one person. We shared 3 mains and that was plenty with some rice.

I’d definitely have a stab at a few more starters or the drinking food if i went again.

Would I go again? Too right! It was a welcome change to what I’d been eating at the time and everything was fragrant, tender and a good kick of heat if you like that. With a drink each a couple of starters, 3 mains and rice it came to just £20 each for 4 of us. I’d spend more than that on a takeaway for myself at my local Indian or Thai takeaway let alone dine in and eat.

Address: 64 Shoreditch High St, London, E1 6JJ

Hawksmoor sharing breakfast review – Guildhall London

I’ve been dying to try the Hawksmoor breakfast for about 2 years now after seeing a pic on I think it was the Mr Hyde newsletter about the best breakfasts in the big smoke.

Hawksmoor if you’ve not had the chance to visit is a chain of Steak Houses and cocktail bars originating in Spitafields in London and named after the 17th century English Baroque Architect Christopher Hawksmoor. He happened to design the epic Christ Church around the corner from the first restaurant in Spitafields.

Their steaks are now legendary in London and afar but one of their venues tucked away in the cities banking district of Guildhall opens up early not for steak but a gargantuan breakfast platter for discerning ravished diners.

Ok so they do the usual too but I only had eyes for one dish (maybe two) and that was the sharing breakfast. Sadly the restaurant is only open Monday to Friday and stops serving breakfast around 10.30am and I only usually venture up to London on the weekend, hence the delay in getting my greedy chops through the door.

I decided to bite the bullet, travel up and book a hotel in London just so I could end this constant inner yearning for the early morning meat fest. Staying around the corner from Tower Bridge we decided to add a bit more excitement to the trip to the Hawksmoor Guildhall and have top gear esque battle across London (well all 1.5 miles) through rush hour with me on foot and Llio via London cabbies arch nemesis Uber. Armed with a fully charged iPhone and google maps at the ready we both said our farewells at the exit to the hotel and headed our separate ways in search of the restaurant.

Being a total stranger to this neck of the woods in London I was totally reliant on the power of google and if you’ve ever had the pleasure of finding somewhere whilst on foot you will know too well how much of a pain in the ass it is changing arrow direction in a heart beat and sending you around in circles.

Anyway 20 odd minutes later my power walk had turned to a limp from unbroken in Chelsea boots and sounding like I’d smoked 20 wood bines before leaving the hotel I was close to the X on the map. No sight of Llio and no expectant sign outside a building I seemed to walk past my intended finish point. I circled back, checking the walls for hidden clues to the venue where I saw the other half toddling up the bottom of the street. I was adamant I’d do a Topgear favourite walking into the bar thinking I’d won whilst Clarkson peers out over a newspaper with his drink so I was quite impressed my lard arse had steam rolled through the masses quicker than the pristine pimped out Mercedes.

The Venue

After a bit of ribbing and boasting about my triumph over man vs technology the we headed down into the bowels of the restaurant in the basement. The décor was classic gentleman’s club with panelled wood walls, burgundy leathered seats emanating ever so slightly more style than my much acquainted weathered greasy spoon or Wetherspoons for that matter that I’ve had to resort to, to satisfy my lusting for fried and griddled porky favourites.

Being around 9am there were only one or two other tables taken as most of the usual clientele were now busy behind their desks punching numbers. I didn’t need long with the menu, having digested every ingredient from each course in my brain over the two longs years I’ve had to wait. This was the only time a lobster benedict was going to be outshone on a breakfast menu.

Hawksmoor Guildhall London

The Food

I was in little deliberation about what to order although I was still unsure if I could bare to part with half the sharing breakfast. I waned to temptation and we ordered the breakfast for two, which comprised of:

  • smoked bacon chop
  • sausages, (made with pork, beef, & mutton)
  • black pudding
  • short-rib bubble & squeak
  • grilled bone marrow
  • trotter baked beans
  • fried eggs
  • grilled mushrooms
  • roast tomatoes
  • HP gravy
  • unlimited toast

Just in case that wasn’t enough and because I didn’t know when I’d be in the vicinity on a midweek morning I went full greedy bastard and ordered a side of lobster benedict.

Seeing as it was now gone 9am and a reasonable time to start on the alcohol I opted for the Bloody Mary No.7 from the Anti-fogmatics menu, which in American Folklore it was said a dram of liquor in the morning would ward off the effects of fog and dampness.

I’d only ever had a Bloody Mary once before in my life and that didn’t quite end as I expected on a flight from Sydney to Bangkok, which shortly followed by a viewing of 127 hours on the on flight entertainment.
If you aren’t aware of said film it involves a guy who gets stuck in the dessert with his hand caught in a rock. The only way to survive was to saw his hand off with a small knife. Needless to say the air pressure, close up of the mutilation and choice of sound effects of the film sent me to the lav’s to wash my face in cold water till the hot flush subsided.

Many years have passed since that turbulent event and I was now mentally prepared for my re-acquaintance with the Bloody Mary, The No.7 at Hawksmoor had been injected with steroids however compared to your standard affair with Horseradish-infused gin, tomato juice, Hawksmoor spice mix, a splash of Kernel export India porter.

I was toying with the idea of a corpse reviver No.2 but absinthe at whatever past 9 in the morning was a push even for me. The other half had a coffee.

Bloody Mary No. 47 at Hawksmoor Guildhall

The drinks came out first and boy did the Bloody Mary pack a punch. If the sprint across East London on foot to try and beat an Uber taxi didn’t wake me up the spicy potent concoction did. A pepper and salt rimmed glass of devils blood with heaps of spice and healthy measure of alcohol content. The London based Kernel Brewery’s Indian Porter floating on top made a nice little addition too.

It wasn’t long before the platter fit for Henry VIII arrived. It was a good job we had a booth style table or we would of struggled on a table for two with all the extras.
We took turns to decant the meaty cauldron onto our plates equally and sawing through the bacon crisp bacon chop.

The fried eggs some of the most intense orange I’ve seen and perfectly cooked glistening under the light instead of a frazzled dried out mess you sometimes get with a breakfast losing any sight of liquid amber.
I couldn’t fault any of the items on the breakfast. This was no standard breakfast though with each item shown love and attention. Not just Heinz or Costco 5kg tubs of baked beans but trotter beans, not just some left over cabbage and potato thrown together there were short-rib bubble and squeak so everything was taken up a notch.

sharing breakfast at Hawksmoor Guildhall

The grilled bone marrow was a little ineluctable towering over the side of the bowl and guarding the contents beneath. I’d only tried marrow once but was in a starter of beef carpaccio with little nuggets dolloped around the plate and that was a while ago. I was keen to give it another go but it wasn’t really my cup of tea and wouldn’t rush back. It was like a fatty gloop somewhat like a soft gristle that melted on the tongue, which would I imagine give the most intense rich gravy but straight in the mouth with a fork is a little step too far for my palate.

Gravy should be a staple on any breakfast from now on if you ask me. I’d had it once with a ham hock hash at Cosy Club in Cardiff but this was something else. You can imagine all the juiced, fat and stock water they’ve got at their disposal at Hawksmoor and licked with HP, which I think should be banned normally with breakfast but it just added to the richness of the mahogany tinted liquor.

Lobster Benedict at Hawksmoor Guildhall

Not forgetting what would normally be the star of the show the Lobster Benedict. Luscious slathers of silky hollandaise coated the meaty morsels of lobster flesh mixed with gooey golden yolks of the delicate poached eggs. This decadent (side) dish was to die for but to set me up for the day I would have needed something a bit extra, so I’m glad it was only to sample with the sharing breakfast.

The Verdict

Ok so £80 is not your average bill at a greasy spoon for a breakfast but this was the epitome of grandeur to start the day off and smack in the middle of the epicentre of the city surrounded by the highest earners in the UK.

Did I enjoy it? Yes it was bloody lovely. Would I go back? You bet I would although I probably won’t take the piss as much next time and I’d love to visit in the evening to sample one of their legendary steaks, which I’ve been told by a well-known source they are some of the best in London.
The cocktail menu doesn’t sound too bad either.

Duck and Waffle Restaurant Review – London

Having first looked at the Shard for lunch and them being fully booked I remember seeing some pics from the cocktail guy I was following on Instagram and some of the awesome views of london in the backdrop of his cocktail snaps but couldn’t rememeber the name of the place.

Turns out it was Duck & Waffle, so our attention turned to making this our friday lunch / pre Taste of London treat for 2 day trip up to the big smoke. Lo and behold this too was booked but after a bit of gently persuasion on the phone we managed to get a booking for 3pm at the 42nd story restaurant.

I studied the menu religiously for about an hour after we booked and checked out the cocktails on offer on the cocktail guys instagram trying to decide what I wanted to sample bearing in mind I was going to a food festival straight after it and didn’t want to spoil that seeing as that was the original reason for the trip in the first place.

Not knowing entirely where Duck & Waffle was located we decided to head to Spitafields for a browse as neither myself nor Mwsh had been to the area before and it was close enough walking distance to the restaurant rather than a Top Gear esque dash across the capital with 30 minutes to spare had we gone on a trek around the other side of the river beforehand.

This was either a brilliant idea for my next outting to London or complete torture having stumbled on the line of street food traders outside Spitafields market for kerb streetfood and trying my best not to order one of each after pacing up and down the street 3 or 4 times with hawk eyes on the mounds of simmering pans and smouldering hunks of meat slowly cooking behind the serving counter.

What was i thinking I had an hour before going for a pre-dinner then a food festival and I was being tempted by the conjouring whafts of delights on offer in front of me! Who could blame me mind with fries, gravy, poutine and rib meat from none other than “Rib Man”!

Common sence prevailed and with just a coffee, mulled wine, pint of the kernel, mini lemon meringue cake, taster of beef brisket, sample of tea, nibble of brownie we headed towards the tallest building this side of the river for lunch in the clouds at Duck & Waffle.

Outside of the duck and waffle building

After stepping into the lift and seeing the number 42 button I knew I had to film our ascent to the highest 24 hour eatery in the capital bolting through the floors and skyline in almost lightening speed to the very top of the Heron Tower at 110 Bishopsgate and towering over the gherkin just across the road.

After a brief stint looking over the drinks menu in the bar we were ushered to our seats right next to the window. Ok it wasn’t the side we were hoping for with views of the Gherkin but we were happy just to get a booking and the views were still pretty impressive.

The Drinks

Having first seen the Woodland Negroni nestled between a mini forest in a bowl on instagram and being gin based I knew this was going to be my first option on the menu.

 

Seeing the prices at around £14 it wasn’t going to be a one of each on the menu, plus I wanted to take in the ambiance, make it in one piece to Taste of London I opted to saver the drink. There sat a huge square ice cube taking centre stage in the glass keeping the cocktail at optimum ice cold temperature but without melting and watering the drink down to a slurry of watered down crap. As i’ve recently learned it’s all about the ice and the ice can make or break a drink from my newly found knowledge at the Gin Fest in Cardiff not too long ago.

I’ve always just been handed a half glass filled with spirtis, chunk of skinny ice cubs and topped up with mixer, which ends up melting within minutes and ruining the contents of my glass shortly after.

At the gin fest we had oversized glasses with a shot of gin, garnish of fruit, a mound of huge ice cubes and just a dash of of tonic meaning the glass stays freezing cold, the mixer doesn’t dilute the ice so the drink stays at the perfect equilibrium of ice to drink ratio.

The drink itself tasted of the forest for sure and details as follows:

‘damp gin,’ Campari, sweet vermouth, formica rufa infusion, slow dripped through layers of nature.

It took me back to my teens and reminded me of sleeping rough up the mountain whilst camping with just a sleeping bag neslted between the wilderness, cooking up a meat feast tin of beans and passing around the “hooch” of the day. It did what it said on the tin but I have to admit it wasn’t entirely my cup of tea but then I don’t know what I was expecting after seeing the pictures and reading the description.

After deciding to take it easy on the wallet and the alcohol levels in my bloodstream I played it safe with the white wine after the first cocktail but these were a really good wine.

The Food

Onto the main highlight of the visit and took us an eternity to finally decide on our plates of choice as we wanted to try quite a few things but also didn’t want to spoil the evening spent eating at Taste.

Day menu at Duck and Waffle

What I did know was I breaking the cardinal sin and not sampling the signature dish the Duck & Waffle but it just looked a bit boring and not really worth the £17 for a waffle, duck leg and egg even though I love duck and partial to a good waffle. I fancied trying something a bit different today.

What we ordered

Well I knew for a fact I was going to order the ox cheek doughnut so that was top of the list priced at £12. This was my favourite of all the dishes and combined sweet yet meaty proportions within a perfect balance. The doughnut was pretty huge and a lot bigger than I though but at £12 you are hopping it’s going to be something worth chomping on especially sharing all the plates between two. I had the honour of cutting into the perfectly crusted dough ball, doused in paprika sugar and laden in sweet sticky apricot jam, stuffed in tightly compacted nuggets of ox cheek.

Ox cheek donut at Duck and Waffle London

I was deliberating for days whether to try the bbq spiced crispy pigs ears as my stomach has got a lot weaker over the years honestly no pun intended but I’ve grown a lot more squemish with what i’ve got on my fork and my stomach turns if i over think something unusual sometimes but I bit the bullet at £5. I’m glad I did go for it as they were like a pimped up version of pork scratchings. Long shards of crispy, tasty pork skin flecked in a light spice. I would of prefered a jug of rum cask cider to compliment it rather than my goblet of wilderness mind. These were deliscious and wish i’d ordered a bag to take away and have looked at recipes to try and recreate these at home since visiting.

Crispy pigs ear at Duck and Waffle London

We got talked into trying some of the smaller tasters by the waiter but just opted for one of each to share of the bacon wrapped dates with linguiça sausage & mustard at £3.50 and a crispy polenta with parmesan & truffle for £3. Both equally as divine and moreish and could easily have scoffe a handfull of each being the dainty size they were but we were told they were bite sized on ordering so we weren’t supprised when they came.

bacon wrapped dates and crispy polenta Duck and Waffle London

We wanted to try one of the breads and fallen in love with cornbread recently so it was between the Lamb Keema, Hara Bhara Sauce or the maple glazed cornbread, harissa yoghurt but I’m not too keen on maple syrup and know it would of spoiled my plate so opted for the lamb keema. Both were priced at £7. The keema was good although it was less carb heavy and less of a plate than the cornbread but that was obvious being a flat bread and probably the best option to just sample the flavour and not get overly bloated. It was good although I’d probably order something else next time as it was good but not amazing. I’d probably go for the Nduja and Gruyere next time, which is a spiced spreadable pork salami sausage meat and cheese.

keema naan at Duck and Waffle London

We decided on one more plate and again torn between two with the  Pork & Apple Corn Dog with chiptole mayo priced at £12 or the Miso Glazed Rabbit, Roasted cauliflower, suet biscuit and crispy cabbage at £12 but went for the smaller of the two the corn dog just because we didn’t want to overdo it and eat too much and ruining the evening’s plans. This was tasty and quite different to what I expected as I thought it would be more of a minced pork like kofta kebab but was more pulled pork covered in a batter.

apple corn dog chipotle mayo at Duck and Waffle

Feeling quite full at this point and knowing we had a good few hours left of eating that night we opted for a coffee to finish the meal instead of a dessert but there were a few dishes that caught my attention.

The Verdict

All in all it was a great experience and would definitely recommend trying Duck & Waffle if you’ve not been and was a very memorable event. The food was a bit pricey but it is London and you’re paying for the novelty of dinning so high up. Unlike the shard who charge £30 just to go up to the top and have a minimum of £30 spend if you fancy dinning although I’m sure you would blow that in no time.

The food was good and I liked the tapas style small sharing plates as opposed to a starter, main and dessert. You have to try one of the cocktails and does make a great instagram pic too if you’re sat by the window as we were.