Words by Simon Difford on 17-Apr-2015
90 Berwick Street, (Broadwick St end), London, W1F 0QB, United Kingdom
Tel: +44 (0)20 3327 7888
Website: View bar's website
Hours: Mon-Thu noon-11pm, Fri-Sat noon-midnight, Sun noon-10:30pm
Door: Go early
Style: Gastro pub
Recommended for: Beer, Food
Price guide: Middling
Food: Full menu
Owned by: Alan Yau
Brought to us by Alan Yau (the man behind Hakkasan and neighbouring Yauatcha), Duck and Rice is best summed up as a Chinese gastro pub with a great beer selection. It debuted in April 2015 as one of London's the most eagerly anticipated openings. No gastropub could live up to the level of hype but the opportunity to pop in for a spicy salt and pepper squid accompanied by a cool beer should not be missed.
As you walk in off the street into the small ground floor you are greeted by four copper vessels holding Pilsner Urquell Tank Beer shipped unpasteurised from the Czeh Republic every week. The bar counter boasts five cask ale hand-pumps alongside some far more modern keg beer equivalents with the impressive beer offering further boosted by high and low level beer fridges brimming with a selection of 50 pilsners, Belgium beers, wheat beers, ciders, IPAs, stouts and porters.
The schizophrenic interior is part traditional British pub and part Chinese restaurant with blue and white China porcelain tiled walls broken by geometrical patterned leaded windows. High round leaner tables with precious few stools encourage stand-up drinking while those lucky enough to have nabbed a table are likely to find themselves perched on low stools. A couple of wood-burning stoves are more reminiscent of Little House on the Prairie than Soho boozer but should be a welcome addition come winter. Unrecognisable its former Endurance pub incarnation the space seems to have shrunk.
"Beer snacks" include: prawn crackers, grilled Iberico jamon, and Gingko nut & Himalayan salt. More substantial "small chow" dishes feature the likes of steamed diver scallop, sesame prawn toast, salt & pepper broad beans and salt & pepper squid. As befits the Asian theme, Dim Sum is also a key part of the offering.
If you find the ground floor too hectic then perhaps head to the dining room upstairs where there's an additional 70 covers and a second bar. Ascend the spiral staircase at the front or walk to the back, via the door to the toilets and up the rear staircase.
Upstairs the food is described as being "re-interpreted classics from the 'Hong Kong Garden chop suey house' - including the mystical No. 23 and dishes such as Kung Po chicken, crispy shredded beef and the quintessential sweet & sour pork. 'Hero Dishes' such as the lobster Cantonese and five spice crispy chicken add ceremony to the menu along with the roasted Cantonese 'House Duck'."