I’m not a morning person, which is predominantly why it’s taken me so long to getting around to having one of London’s most iconic breakfast spots. Duck & Waffle, at the top of the Heron Tower in the City, is infamous for being open 24 hours a day and is rumoured to have some of the best views in London.
But I didn’t know I was scheduled in for a visit. I was told by my boyfriend that I’d have to get at 5am for a ‘birthday surprise’, and as much as I was eager to know what was going on, I also had a strop about the early start. I dozed in the cab on the way but full excitement hit as we confirmed our reservation, were allowed access beyond the security-guarded velvet rope, and headed up in the lift to the 40th floor. Our ears popped and vertigo made me wobble, but sat at our table, the views made it totally worth it.
Arriving in darkness, we watched as the twinkly street lights and headlights of a handful of early morning cars started to switch off, and the horizon went from black to orange with the rising sun. Buildings bathed in light and London landmarks were suddenly visible: the Olympic Stadium, Tower Bridge and, right next to us, the Gherkin. I’ve never seen such a beautiful sunrise in my little city; it made me feel quite emotional (or was that the 5am start?).
Coffees were eagerly supped and we picked our breakfasts with ease. I knew without even looking at the menu that I wanted to try the eponymous duck and waffle, and I don’t think I’ve ever regretted anything less. The waffle was fluffy, but it was the toppings that made it. Crispy-skinned confit duck leg with a fried duck egg felt like the most indulgent Full English, and of course, you can’t have a waffle without maple syrup. This one was mixed with mustard, creating an awesome sweet and savoury blend that was a surprise with every bite.
My boyfriend went for the Full Elvis waffle: a peanut butter and jelly feast with a banana brûlée and chantilly cream. It was a mass of textures, from the satisfying crunch of burnt sugar to smooth jam and soft cream. Massively sweet, obviously, but then you kind of know that going in.
We finished with peach bellinis and a surprise birthday cake from the wonderfully attentive and patient staff, whilst watching London come to life below. From where we were sat we could see the Queen of Hoxton – the venue of our first ever date, and maybe it was the daylight delirium (or alcohol before 9am) or the romantic nostalgia, or maybe it was the fully satisfied food baby I was nursing, but I was happy. The happiest I’ve ever been at stupid o’clock on a Saturday morning.
PIN IT FOR LATER