When a good friend leaves the country to pursue his career in Singapore, it warrants a ginormous Asian-themed party – which is exactly what we did on Saturday night, hitting a handful of top bars and restaurants, dressed as geishas, ninjas, pandas, anime characters and Hello Kitty…
Stomachs were lined at Vietnamese restaurant Tay Do on the Kingsland Road, before we headed for classier climes: Ninetyeight Bar & Lounge, on Curtain Road. Ninetyeight is not immediately obvious, the entrance being set at basement level on Curtain Road.
Take the metal spiral staircase down and you find yourself in the entrance to what appears at first glance to be a trinket-filled, eclectically decorated house. Glass bottles and vases cover every shelf and surface, Action Man figurines sit atop fruit bowls and within photo frames, lamp shades are covered in white feathers, and furniture is gilded and plush. Wandering between rooms reveals several eccentric decoration schemes bursting with tongue in cheek chic, and endless interesting knick-knacks to discover.
I’ve been to Ninetyeight before, for another private party. You can hire rooms for a seemingly good price/minimum spend – this time, we were upstairs in a room decked out with Chinese lanterns, silk umbrellas and a private bar. The cocktail list is impressive – I drank Old Fashioneds (of course) and Best of British cocktails (about £9 each), which contained a delicious combination of Earl Grey, marmalade and gin.
The drinking turned to dancing, and before you know it we were being turfed out for closing time. Cue taxi ride to friend of a friend’s house party.
We were on a mission: To make it through till our 04:15am breakfast booking, with a side of sunrise, at the highly anticipated Duck & Waffle on the 40th floor of Heron Tower. It’s pretty difficult to get a table at Duck & Waffle, particularly for weekend brunches or sunset dinners – but since it’s open 24 hours, going in the middle of the night is the perfect solution! Sushi Samba on the floor below is another way to get the altitude and great city views – it serves very expensive cocktails – I guess the over-priced drinks cover the cost of the view?!
When 4am rolled around, our motley crew took cabs to Heron Tower. Once we’d negotiated our way past the disapproving-looking bouncer (the dress code for Duck & Waffle is smart-casual, and we were a little dishevelled by this point…), we took the stomach-flipping lift up to level 40 and took our seats.
It was still dark out, so we turned to the food, ordering several plates to share: Duck Egg en Cocotte, bacon-wrapped dates, Colombian eggs and of course Duck & Waffle – a fried duck egg, on a crispy leg of duck, atop a waffle, and drizzled with mustard maple syrup – just what our cocktail-fuddled stomachs were craving. For pudding, we shared a couple of belgian waffles with caramelised bananas, homemade nutella and ice cream – so good. Unfortunately the late night/early morning drinks menu is very limited – sadly no Bloody Marys or Bellinis, only wine and beer…
Once bellies were full, most of our crew crashed, just as the sun was starting to make its entrance. Just two of us remained, and we positioned ourselves to watch the sun rise in the east – and boy was it worth the wait. The sky was soon awash with watercolour-esque pinks and blues – incredibly beautiful and quite unforgettable.
Taking a taxi home in the light was an experience that, with the added fancy dress, reminded me very much of being a student again!
Sunday was obviously a total wash-out (which was a shame, since the sun was shining), but Saturday night’s escapades were worth the waste…
Duck & Waffle
Heron Tower, 110 Bishopgate, London EC2N 4AY
Morrell House, 98 Curtain Road, Shoreditch, EC2A 3AF