The imaginatively named China City Restaurant benefited from a great central location, and with a recent Groupon Voucher offered excellent value for money given the expensive area.
Unfortunately, the atmosphere was rather stern. Despite being busy, the restaurant was almost silent, with fellow diners choosing to read each other’s minds rather than engage in traditional forms conversation. The servers echoed this stoicism, which exaggerated the unnecessarily serious environment.
We were warned before being allowed to sit that we had to pay the optional service charge – as though I had a badge warning “I don’t tip!”. Why I needed to pay someone £1.80 to open a screw top bottle of wine was never explained. London after all never misses an opportunity to take every penny possible.
Regarding the food, the portions were generous and satisfying. The food arrived quickly and was served pleasingly hot. However, this was the typical too: salty, sweet, gloopy Chinese food you get everywhere except probably China. Everything for some reason was shiny. Unfortunately, the obligatory sculpted carrot didn’t do enough to refine any of the dishes. For anyone stumbling out of Soho seeking stodgy sustenance, China City Restaurant is an option. For anyone else, the abundance of other Chinese restaurants in the vicinity will probably prove more fruitful.
China City Review Summary
Atmosphere 2 Cost 8 Quality 4 Service 4
*Since this review was first published, China City Restaurant is unfortunately no longer with us – hence the lack of link*
Let’s be clear, Duck & Waffle is all about the view (and waffles). Located on the 40th floor of 110 Bishopsgate in London, Duck & Waffle inside Heron Tower boasts the highest restaurant in the UK. Guests are transported to Duck & Waffle London from a private entrance on Bishopsgate via two express, double-glazed scenic lifts. The vistas are stunning and the environment unique.
Designed by award-winning architects CetraRuddy, the Duck & Waffle restaurant features include a 24 seat “inside out” bar, a bustling open kitchen and a private dining room that seats up to 18 people. Despite these boasts, a comical gripe is that metal supports run at eye level across the window panels; only crawling toddlers and NBA superstars can fully benefit.
Cocktail prices are equally sky-high, but free entry, as opposed to the extortionate Shard, remedies this somewhat. The Duck & Waffle Cocktail Menu was original and intriguing, although style over substance in places. The Bourbon Old Fashioned was £15.50 (inc. service) but only used standard Jack Daniels. It was served on a bed of hay, yet the drink was made from corn (maize). I’ve no time for fussing about with inedible props. As the drinks menu offers oddities like Bee Pollen Liqueur and Beetroot Champagne, the bourbon and other base spirit selection felt pedestrian.
Finishing Duck & Waffle’s Truffle Cocktail was like waking up disorientated from a heavy night in a wet compost heap, with earthy garlic cloves pushed into every orifice. I have no idea what was meant by ‘removed citrus juices’ but the Removed Aviation was both ballsy and impressively floral.
Regarding Duck & Waffle’s atmosphere, the interior walls were intentionally covered in scruffy graffiti that failed to be edgy and smacked of pretentiousness. Duck & Waffle PR team disagree, describing their restaurant décor as “playfully injected with modern influences”. Unless Jackson Pollock collecting oligarchs, customers appreciating scribble on walls don’t generally buy £16 drinks. To be fair, the restaurant’s around the corner from Barclays and Deutsche Bank, but I’d suggest framed portraits of Margaret Thatcher would be more appropriate. I like James Brown as much as the next man, but the Motown soundtrack was completely out of character with Duck & Waffle’s somewhat confused ambience.
One gripe was that our small group was completely blanked by all the Duck & Waffle staff as we attempted to say thank you and goodbye to them. A group walking out in anonymity is quite a challenge in such a small space, and being totally ignored twice made me doubt the genuineness of the servers initial hospitality.
Duck & Waffle is still worth a visit: it makes a fabulous refreshment break for tourists, and the lift ride alone is a giddy experience. The views are memorable – arguably the best in the UK. If you are looking for unusual ingredients in your libations, it really set the bar high. While any drinking establishment that is open twenty-four hours a day should be revered as a potential guilty pleasure. Personally, I prefer boozers a bit more down to earth – in more ways than one.