On the 40th floor of Heron Tower in London, England, there’s a restaurant called Duck and Waffle. I find the symbolism of being so high up as to be above the competition apt in this situation. As one can imagine there is really only one thing that you can order when dining at Duck and Waffle, and regardless of the time of day it’s always on the menu, the Duck and Waffle. In reviewing the meals of my life I find few that can compare to the meal I had on my visit there. That experience redefined my understanding of sweet-and-savory and began my obsession with the perfect duck confit. Beyond the food, the company (a friend of my cousin who I had not met before and have not seen since), the views, and the moment in time when it took place has burned this experience in my mind and has since become one of the highest numbers on my critical-review-yardstick to which all future meals must be measured against. This however is not the meal I will be discussing in this review.
The following review will mark the first non-dinner meal we have reviewed. Since this restaurant doesn’t serve dinner and instead has opted—for whatever reason—to serve brunch, that is what we had. New Leaf Cafe at Outlook Inn is located at the southern waterfront of Eastsound, on the southwest border of town. The outlook inn is a historic building with a long and interesting history that I will not get into. New Leaf Cafe is much newer, having opened in 2005. They have since become a regular purveyor of fine foods to guests, visitors, and locals alike.
We checked online before arriving and saw that there was less than a 10-minute wait. A couple of minutes later, and a short walk across town, we were seated and deciding on what to get. There are a few items that I am mentally and physically incapable of not ordering. One of these items, and previously mentioned, is duck confit. Note that this does not mean “duck”, or any dish “including duck”, only duck prepared via the confit method of cooking or “duck confit”.
Crispy duck confit and Belgian waffle were, of course, on the menu and naturally I did, out of compulsion, desire, or both, order it. Served with pancetta lardon and chili-infused syrup it certainly conceptually sounds like a formidable dish and, if executed correctly, might even be a great one. This is especially true in the mind of someone with an emotional attachment that makes them predisposed to harsh criticisms if the execution is not up to exacting standards of similar meals.
Before discussing my meal, I will instead discuss the service. It is common here in the US for a server to come to the table 5 times over the course of a standard meal. While there can be some variation to this it is generally kept to: welcome and drink order; bring drinks and food order; deliver food; “how is everything?”; and “check, please”. Only one of these visits is completely and utterly useless. While I am probably an outlier when it comes to the average diner, I take the sign that I am not asked “how is everything” halfway through my meal, and always mid-bite, as a sign that the restaurant is so confident in what they are serving that they already know the answer and therefore have no reason to ask the question. If I were to need something the server is attentive enough that I can easily flag them down. We were not asked how everything was, because, they already knew.
The best part of the actual meal was the duck which was delivered to our table perfectly cooked. The waffle, dusted with powdered sugar and its convenient square pockets holding the lardons, was also very good, though when it comes down to it, it’s a waffle. The most creative part of the meal was the chili-infused syrup, which, not having seen it on the menu came as a pleasant surprise. My one contentious point of feedback is the small pile of parsley that came atop the duck was unnecessary and did not pair well with the other components on the plate.
The meal, overall, was a resounding success and begs for a return visit, which I am excited to indulge in. The creativity of the menu is unique for Orcas which tends to fall into the same clichéd themes you find across the country. While it still doesn’t beat out the Duck and Waffle of Heron Tower, that’s okay, and I am still glad to recommend New Leaf Café.