I’ve made no secret of my healthy obsession with waffles (not least given their uncanny resemblance to hashtags… oh #millennials), but the enthusiasm with which this vegetarian recently waddled over to Duck & Waffle Local might still be a bit baffling…
That is unless you’ve previously experienced Chef Dan Doherty’s transfixing execution of veggie dishes, as I did rather memorably at Taste of London a couple of years ago. Add to that, a new and intriguing “chef curated, fast casual” concept spinning off from the iconic original, Duck & Waffle, and in one fowl swoop my dear friend Colleen and I had unanimously agreed on the venue for an overdue dinner-date…
Situated within the burgeoning St James Market development, the first thing that struck us about this new restaurant is that it strives for accessibility across the board – from the competitively-priced menu to the location and fast food-esque focus, with a welcome lack of waiting lists or long queues so characteristic of on-trend eateries today!
Yet the only similarities observed with other fast food-joints is that you initially place your order at the counter (take-aways are available too) and that service is efficiently quick. All subsequent orders are taken table-side with the friendly staff quick to ferry it over.
And while the food might be fast, it’s by no means casual, embodying a distinct emphasis on flavour, texture and presentation.
Duck is very much the name of the game here, taking flight in a variety of forms from duck liver crème brûlée to duck jam doughnuts (yes, really).
The signature Duck & Waffle has migrated over from the original restaurant, and was a quacking temptation for C who’s previously tried and loved this cult favourite dish. On this occasion, she ultimately opted for something new… *the* duck burger. A riotous assembly of duck leg, fried noodle sticks, miso-mayonnaise and spiced coleslaw, it was a veritably messy feast to relish!
I wasn’t left out of the party either, what with vegetables holding their own ground in the short but sharp menu.
Baked and pickled, beets were rendered a thing of beauty – their tart sweetness foiled by a fiery touch of harissa. Delicate dollops of creamy yogurt and a scattering of sunflower seeds weren’t amiss here, with these small embellishments going some way in adding a baseline hum.
Puy lentils also arrived cleverly textured – with miso yogurt, blanched spinach and crunchily-toasted buckwheat. The stuff of soul food, it was the kind of comfortingly-warm dish I can foresee myself craving and returning for…
… Along with the sweet waffle cones, of course. We went for the Full Elvis, featuring all the trimmings from vanilla ice cream and peanut butter, to gently-caramelised bananas and fresh berries.
The vanilla fudge brownie cone sounds like one to pop in for next time, as do all the breakfast dishes. Now if only London’s new Local were open 24/7 like it’s counterpart in the City… it’s very much the sort of place you’ll be hankering to visit after a late night/ early morning of revelry!
Duck & Waffle Local, 52 Haymarket, London SW1Y 4RP
Hungry for more? Do flick through to my rolling round-up of new & noteworthy openings in London.