There is something extremely exciting about eating on the fortieth floor of a tower block. In this case The Heron Tower in The City. We are not blessed with much high rise in the UK so it is somewhat fascinating to gaze skyward in anticipation.
At the time of our fairly recent visit, no visible signage was evident for the restaurant. So, no doubt like others before us we walked around the building a couple of times before we realised the door to the right of the building was the actual entrance to the glass fronted lift and eventually skyward to the restaurant.
The exhilarating climb up forty floors takes seconds and is breathtaking. In fact the whole place is a bit breathtaking, on a number of levels.
Through a series of corridors, one of the first things on the horizon when you finally arrive is an amazing bar.
We had heard good things about the food, so the location and the views were a real bonus.
The main menu (there is a breakfast one) is split into four sections, Snacks and Breads, Small plates, Brick Oven, and For the Table. In all a compact thirty one items. As we were to find out the "small plates" were fairly large plates. In fact all of the dishes that we chose had a generosity about them, which is to be applauded.
The BBQ-spiced crispy pigs ears (£4) arrived in a grease splattered brown paper bag.
Hand on heart these were fantastic, the best that we have eaten. Crunchy flavour bombs that exploded in the mouth. I did ask our waiter what the spices were, but the recipe is a closely guarded secret.
Chip shop Cod tongues (£4.5) were again in there own way nearly on par with the pigs ears, just a very good eat. Perfectly cooked with crispy coating and the steamy whiff of fresh fish when bitten down on. We resisted the Sarson's malt vinegar as the tartar sauce did its job very well.
Crab on Toast (£10) with lemon aioli and a herb salad was more my wife's choice than mine but it was nevertheless delicious and again brim full of flavour. Both white and the richer tasting brown meat were evident.
Herdwick mutton was on the menu in two guises, cutlets and a slider. So. Much in the mood for lamb we chose both.
First up the Herdwick mutton slider (£5) and this was easily worth its price tag. The sweet charred tomato jam added interest.
The mutton was blended with coriander, mint and harissa paste and some fresh chilli. Its then char grilled.
We were now thinking that we had perhaps ordered too much food because we had another two dishes to go and one of them looked like a trencherman portion.
Spiced Herdwick lamb cutlets (£12) were value for money. No faulting the flavour at all. Great aroma when they arrived table side that just heightened the thrill of eating them. At the base of the chops is smoked aubergine interspersed with yogurt with coriander and mint. The lamb had been marinated with quite a lot of Indian spices, cumin, ground coriander, fennel, fenugreek. They are then char grilled and finished off in the brick oven at 440 degrees.
So finally the signature dish that everyone should try. Duck and Waffle (£13) and that is what you get of course with the addition of a crispy fried duck egg and a pot of mustard seed, star anise, clove, and thyme infused maple syrup.
Ok. So its not going to win any prizes for the prettiest plate of food, but you know what they say about beauty. Its in the eye of the beholder.
I first encountered this savoury/sweet combination in The States a number of years ago now, and initially thought it to be quite odd. It does however work extremely well with this dish. Importantly we both like duck and most things sweet work with it. The crisp outer layer gave way to an altogether melting inner. We thought it best to soak the waffle with the syrup and eat the three components together dipping in to the egg for a bit of welcome distraction. It all went down rather well and we just about managed to polish it off.
Too full for dessert we sat back and enjoyed the stunning views which again is a big part about what this place delivers.
By the time we were ready to leave and excitedly ride the glass fronted lift again, the open kitchen was decidedly quieter,. So, I attempted to pick Head chef Daniel Doherty's brain about those pigs ears.
Wise man that he is. He kept the recipe secret. I did glean however that brown sugar and paprika played a part. Although it has to be said the recipe would have been safe with me. Wink, wink.
So there you have it. Another glowing report about Duck and Waffle. We think its got the lot. Great cooking, bargain basement pricing, good portions, good service, and truly spectacular views. Our bill came to £82 which included a bottle of wine (£25) and service. We tried more dishes than most, but you could easily dine here for quite a lot less money.
Give it a try. You know your worth it