A great man once said “when you look annoyed all the time, people think that you’re busy”. It’s a true and useful observation. Next time you can’t be bothered to have somebody talk to you at work, put a frown on your face and rub the bridge of your nose. It’s fail safe. Similarly, if a person dresses smartly, talks over 75 decibels and eats at Duddell’s, then you might think they are a Very Important Person. This is because Duddell’s is a restaurant for people who look like they could be Very Important People. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing. It’s just that Duddell’s is geared to serve a very specific type of person and situation. Namely one that wants to be impressed by a grand room with grand service and a grand bill.
And that’s okay. You just need to know what you’re getting into. Duddell’s is in the former St Thomas’ Church in London Bridge, so it’s all high ceilings, big windows and gold detail. There’s nothing quiet or unassuming here, and that extends to the food. If you’re into a man carving your Peking duck tableside like he’s playing a violin, then you’re in luck. The duck here comes in two rounds: firstly (and excellently) with pancakes, and secondly (and more disappointingly) in a choice of sauce. Duddell’s specialises in truffle based sauces, because... Duddell’s. But being serenaded by a duck isn’t for everyone, and that’s why there’s the Dim Sum Symphony: an extremely tasty box of multi-coloured fish shaped dumplings. Dim Sum is where Duddell’s is at its best. It’s tasty, well done and reasonably priced (in the scheme of things). Although the enormous and delicious cheung fun dumplings have been removed from the menu, the rest of the dim sum offering is equally worth ordering.
Duck and dumplings aside, the rest of the menu ultimately depends on whether you’re willing to pay a frankly unholy amount to eat. This is a busy place full of important people talking about important things. Is it important to them that half a Peking duck, rice, sweet and sour pork, and vermicelli noodles is going to cost them close to £80? Probably not, because it tastes pretty good. The duck and the dumplings are the things to get here: they’re really delicious. But everything else falls into the ‘that tastes how I expect it to’ bracket. This isn’t a bad thing per se, vermicelli noodles, sweet and sour pork, spring rolls and the like are all perfectly good. But are they good enough for you to pay double what you’d usually expect to for the same things? We’re not sure.
Restaurants like Duddell’s suit certain situations. Situations that involve suits, and work credit cards, and people who shout ’SCUSE ME across the room at someone they think is a waiter. Everyone likes to pretend they’re Very Important every now and again and, ultimately, this isn’t a bad place to do it.
These fish shaped dumplings are packed with prawns, scallops and crab. They taste superb.
These classic steamed pork dumplings are worth an order off the dim sum menu.
When a suited man comes to your table holding a cleaver, you may think the worst, but this is just some expert Peking duck theatrics. Very delicious.
These scallop-y noodles taste nice enough and are a pretty hefty portion. Well worth ordering if you’re price-conscious.
A classic let’s-put-truffle-in-for-the-sake-of-it dish. Forgettable.
Looks like sweet and sour pork and tastes like sweet and sour pork.