Ducking Different | Duck & Waffle Local, 52 Haymarket, London
Five years on since opening, Duck & Waffle up in Heron Tower is still one of the places to go in London with bookings hard to come by. People come flocking for their signature dish (the duck and waffle) with the restaurant knocking out an incredible 3-400 portions a day. And now they’ve opened a little sister restaurant in the heart of theatreland, say hello to Duck & Waffle Local. Try and imagine, if you can, that the original Duck & Waffle and Nando’s have got it on and made a baby, swapping chicken for duck – this is what you’d get.
So as you can imagine from this description, it’s pretty casual with flame red wipe-clean tables, cocktails and wine on tap and food ordered at the counter before you’re even allocated a seat. You know those laminated faded menus with pictures of the dishes you see in dodgy holiday resorts? Well their online menu has pictures a bit like that – even of the drinks! Personally, we really quite like to see what we’re going to get but it can some might say that it adds a touch of tackiness to a brand.
This location is purely focused on the food rather than the view (unlike their first restaurant) and duck is the only meat on offer (alongside a good selection of veggie options.) We think this move is quite risky and we wouldn’t be surprised to see a few other animals making the cut in about six months time but we could be wrong – it does happen.
From the ‘Bites’ section we had the Soy braised duck necks (£4) and Duck liver crème brûlée (£6). The necks turned out to be one of my star dishes – like crispy duck coated in a sticky, almost black, salty soy sauce. Now crème brûlée is one of my favourite desserts in the whole entire world but I wasn’t too sure about a duck liver version. Ade however adored it and even woke up talking about it that other morning.
Now for the main dishes, as we’d both had the signature sweet and savoury duck and waffle before I went for the Duck burger (£10) which we’d heard good things about – crispy duck leg, crushed noodles, miso mayonnaise and spiced slaw. At the time of ordering, I was ravenous so when I was asked if I wanted an extra patty, I said yes. In hindsight, one would have been more than satisfactory and would have meant that I could have eaten it without the use of a knife and fork. It was a great burger, needed more noodles though and a shame that someone on Instagram thought at first glance that there were maggots…
Ade wanted the Duck jam doughnut with an orange glaze (£8) but worried it would be too small for a main so asked the girl behind the counter. She said it was ‘more of a snack’ so suggested he also had the Duck merguez flatbread (£9) as well. She was being a little creative with the truth – the doughnut is more than substantial, plus it’s a doughnut so it’s hardly going to be light, is it? I don’t know what either of them were thinking.
The flatbread was lovely with a fried duck egg, harissa, yoghurt, pickles, coriander and mint but was a tad tricky to eat, maybe Ade should have just rolled the whole thing up and made it into a wrap? The doughnut on the other hand was no trouble at all, that sweet and savoury mash-up proving yet again how well Dan Doherty’s signature flavour combo works -so good.
For the sake of our vegetarian readers, we tried the Heritage carrot and spiced chickpea salad (£6) with labneh and pomegranate. It sounded lovely and we needed something to even out all the duck. Even the chips can’t escape the duck treatment – don’t miss the Duck fat fries with rosemary salt (£3) so delicious that we battled our way through the generous portion even when we knew we should probably give in and stop eating.
We just had the one drink each – a Millennial mojito (£6) for old time’s sake for me (it used to be my favourite cocktail before I discovered proper ones) and the Duck & stormy (£6) for Ade as he loved the pun. Considering they come out of a tap, they weren’t too bad and great value for just over a fiver, especially the huge Duck & Stormy. I wish I’d tried the wine provided by Roberson Wine too (and in case you don’t know what a glass of wine looks like, they’re also pictured on their website.) Duck & Waffle Local also have their own beer – Holy duck IPA, brewed by the Fourpure brewery – one for next time…
The dessert offering is pretty minimal – Vanilla fudge brownie, The full Elvis or Caramel banana cones/waffles (£6). As we’d totally overindulged, we just shared the Vanilla fudge brownie cone which is not an ideal thing to split between two really but we couldn’t leave without a sweet ending. They come in the kind of cone holder that T.G.I Friday’s probably have. It was OK but I wish we’d had it on a waffle, Ironic as our order originally turned up that way by mistake and I returned it as we’d ordered the cone – how we wish we’d kept the ‘wrong’ one.
Fans of the original Duck & Waffle might not be too sure about Duck & Waffle Local but we think it opens up the brand to a whole new audience – making it accessible and extremely good value. We certainly know where we’d go for a bite to eat next time we’re in Haymarket.
52 Haymarket, St. James’s Market,
London SW1Y 4RP
Telephone: 0203 900 4444
Monday – Thursday: 8am – 11pm
Friday: 8am – midnight
Saturday: 9am – midnight
Sunday: 9am – 11pm
Nearest station: Piccadilly Circus (2 mins walk)
We ate as guests of Duck & Waffle, this does not affect our review in any way. We always write with complete honesty.