Duck and Waffle,
Duck and Waffle,
Fifteen years ago when I first visited London, last call in London was 11 pm. Decent late night dining possibilities were near zero, aside from a few after-hour curry houses, where you were more likely to get in a fight than have a good feed.
Duck and Waffle reflects how things have changed since then and how a more mature late night dining scene has arrived in London. I spoke with Executive Chef Tom Cenci and joined the team at 2.30 in the morning for their middle-of-the-night staff meal.
You take a glass elevator 40 stories up the side of the building. It gives you the most euphoric feeling coming up to this height, seeing the view and walking in our space. However we don't take this for granted or merely rely on the unique setting as being enough for our customers, we want to give them a completely amazing experience. Our owner tells us to imagine we are cooking for people eating in a basement. We want to blow them away with the food so they keep coming back. We take this approach to our cuisine and the bonus is you also see right across the top of London.
We have been here for four years now and were relative pioneers of the inner-city London food scene. As things began to change we wanted to bring something different to this area and meet people’s evolving demands. There are travelers passing through Liverpool station, late night drinkers looking for a meal, theatre goers, bankers and city workers. We sometimes do over 400 covers from midnight until breakfast so there clearly is a demand for these dining hours.
A lot of places serve a really unappetizing staff meal plus hospitality workers tend not to eat very well when they buy food themselves on their break in a rush. We take real pride in what we serve and try to provide a healthy and balanced meal to our workers that’s also not boring. It gives me a thrill when I see the workers eyes light up when they see what’s being served for the staff meal.
We do three staff meals a day. Our sister restaurant SUSHISAMBA is downstairs and we share a staff canteen on the 6th floor next to our corporate offices. We have over 350 staff between us, so during the day two meals are served downstairs buffet style, but at night we can’t take the staff off the floor to send down there. Instead we offer a family style meal so staff come in when they have a moment’s downtime and have someone available to cover their section. We serve this in the private dining room.
London has become such a culturally diverse city and you see this reflected in our staff who come from all over the world. This sitting allows them a moment of downtime to talk and get to know each other and so find out more about where they come from and their culture.