DUCK & WAFFLE’S HEAD CHEF ON CREATIVITY WITH FOOD
Duck & Waffle’s Executive Chef Daniel Doherty lets nothing but his creative inclination drive his food offerings, with spring and summer influences dominating the the new food and cocktail menus. Dan tells The Resident why a table at London’s hottest skyscraper restaurants is worth the six week wait…
Words: Rachel Mantock
Your field of vision from the top floor of the Heron Tower shows this beast of a city in shades of dusky blue and grey, complementing the patchy sky with heavy clouds dissolving like a tie dye t-shirt. That’s what instantaneously cuts Duck & Waffle above the rest – the view, the skyline, the feeling of floating on top of it all.
At a glass table by the bar, chef Daniel Doherty sits down with me and raves about their new cocktail menu. You can now drink your spring vegetables at the bar in keeping with the ‘drink your greens’ trend that has been building in momentum since the latter end of last year.
Deep, colourful sounding drinks such as beetroot champagne, Eden and the carrot cocktail fill the drinks menu, inspired by the vividness of spring, providing a stark contrast to the ‘beigey’ root vegetables of winter. He says: ‘The carrots give you sweetness whereas something like kale will give you depth and pepperiness.’
The main menu delves into spring organically, bit by bit, with ingredients and dishes being switched out for other, more seasonal ones here and there, very much ebbing and flowing to the rhythm of the season. ‘We don’t just go ‘bam’ – the spring menu is here, it changes a bit at a time.’
He describes their pea and mint ravioli as a British approach to an Italian dish, a mouth watering combination of butter crumble, mint puree and fresh truffles. ‘We don’t really have a style; we just cook with local British ingredients and go from there, see where it takes us.’
I am a weakly disciplined girl when it comes to food and was convinced I’d clean out the kitchen like a tiny feral child raised by jungle animals. In actual fact, I was in a food coma after three outstanding small plates. They were deceivingly small and simple, full of rich contrasting and complementing flavours, creamy lentils, raw tuna and octopus with an assortment of vegetables.
Doherty attributes his way of working with food to the two men he studied under, the polar opposites of each other. Initially, he trained under Herbert Berger, a traditional man with a ‘good solid Austrian name’, big on discipline, long-established methods and conventional European cuisine. The admiration in his voice is clear as Doherty reminisces about his humble beginnings with Berger, the start of a journey that landed him at the top of the tower, the king of a glass castle with panoramic views of all the land. The ying to his yang, chef Julian Owen-Mold, gave Doherty his experimental quirk.
The two of them sit at the core of Doherty’s innovative finesse, a robust centre made strong by heritage with creative inventiveness spilling out from there, flourishing and forever expanding outwards. ‘The more we just cooked without any grief or set pigeon holes, we evolved into what we are now,’ says Doherty. ‘Doing things, getting it wrong and getting frustrated actually steers you in the right direction.
Heron Tower, 110 Bishopsgate EC2N 4AY; duckandwaffle.com