Review: Heathcote & Star, Leytonstone

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In which we try a few vegetarian plates at E11’s stylish new corner pub

Vegan burger, chips and little gem at Heathcote & Star
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Heathcote & Star interior
Swanky: a very different Heathcote. Photo: PR
The Heathcote & Star is an undeniably smart reinvention of a once seemingly doomed boozer. Together with a bit of Mini Holland pedestrianizing outside on Grove Green Road, it makes that corner of E11 a helluva lot more attractive. Right?

Right. Although we’d been in for drinks, it took us a while actually to try the menu however, which we finally did the other wintry weekend.

It was early-doors on a Saturday, so the main room was full of young parents, baby in one hand, burger in the other. Buggies were parked at right angles by free tables, and polite apologies uttered as we tried to find space to sit with our elderly Jack Russell (not too near the ankle-biters, naturally). It was a freezing day, too; shame the fire wasn’t on.

They might be known for their Scooby Snack-sized burgers, loaded dogs and wings, but We Serve Humans, who run the kitchen, are not half bad at vegetarian food too. Which was what we fancied as we were still in veganuary – yep, we’re eating meat now again (occasionally).

They have a few “free-from” options in the Big Plates section: since opening, these have included the likes of cowboy beans with rice, roast pumpkin with lentils, pomegranate and mustard dressing and battered pickles aka frickles with homemade barbecue and buffalo sauces.

Vegan burger, chips and little gem at Heathcote & Star
Vegan burger, chips and the incredibly delicious little gem. Photo: SE
To a nostlagic soundtrack of 90s R ‘n’ B hits – is this now de rigeur in pubs? – we gobbled our Prince burgers (£7.80), whose sturdy vegan sesame buns came stuffed with a spicy kidney bean and beetroot patty, topped with chunky tomato salsa. It’s all-importantly juicy, a spoon or two of guacamole adding further moistness, but on our visit needed a bit of seasoning to sing that bit louder.

Our one issue with the slim-cut chips (£4!) was actually the slick – by which we mean deep pool – of truffle oil at the bottom of the bowl, a little disconcerting and at best, incredibly overpowering. We mentioned it to the waitress who cheerily thanked us for telling her. Okaaay.

Best of all? A colourful plate of grilled baby gem (£4.50), charred pleasingly, with added crunch from toasted hazlenuts and a touch of creaminess from the (not-vegan) yoghurt dressing. It’d be nice to try more items like this in future, in fact.

Final note: £9 for two alcohol-free Nanny State beers seemed a little steep, guys. Thank goodness we’re back on the hard stuff now; we do like a kick for our buck.

This is box title
Lunch for two with drinks was £32.50 without service. Heathcote & Star, 344 Grove Road, E11 4EA. Open Mon – Thur 4pm-12am, Fri & Sat 12pm-1am and Sun 12pm-12am.

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