A Beginner’s Guide to…The Stratford Brasserie E20

It’s one of the most swanky dining options to arrive in the wider area. Worth a trip?

Age: Ooh, one month, maybe two.

Where exactly is it? Opposite Stratford International station, alongside the monolithic Westfield, right on the edge of the Olympic Park. It’s the baby of the prestigious Manhattan Loft Corporation, the folk behind smart central London pioneers like St Pancras Renaissance Hotel and Chiltern Firehouse.

So you can stay? Yep, the brasserie is on the ground floor of the eponymous 145-room design hotel occupying the first seven levels of the building, a vertigo-inducing 42-storeys. Designed by SOM (the architects behind One World Trade Centre), the double-cantilevered tower features three sky gardens, two restaurants and a design hotel. Not walked past? It looks something like this:

A red bus for contrast. Photo: SE

What goes on there? Well, in the restaurant, with its triple-height lobby and ten-metre high fireplace, expect casual breakfasts through to posh dinners and late night libations. Designed by Space Copenhagen (the team behind Noma) it also recalls the aesthetic of Simon Rogan’s much lauded L’Enclume in Cumbia, the palette all greys, tan and black, with marble counter and extremely busy open kitchen beyond.

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Sounds lovely. Yep, there are softly padded leather chairs and statement wooden benches, its vastness broken up into corners and defined areas. Outdoor seating is heated and sheltered by a pergola, alongside an outdoor bar, fireplace and pizza oven: on our visit the terrace was sizzling, too much, in fact to even sit in the shade. Lucky the restaurant was cool inside.

Delicate: sea bass with courgette flower. Photo: SE

I’m actually hungry now. What should I eat? Head chef (and Soho House alumnus) Ben Harrington’s menu has most bases covered, from snacks and starters to salads, mains and pasta. From the grilled meats section, we enjoyed a charred, perfectly seasoned, 35-day dry-aged grass-fed sirloin, sliced into thick juicy crimson pieces, peppercorn sauce upping the thwack of umami. Chips? Skin-on, hand-cut and fluffy within. We also thrilled to a minimal plate of pan-fried sea-bass (above): its skin blackened, flesh just-opaque, it was accompanied by a bulbous courgette flower stuffed with white crab meat, red pepper puree adding sweet acidity.

The best dishes? The starters, in fact. Plump scallops came golden-seared, paired with crisp-skinned, deboned chicken wings, a zingy tomato salsa and sauce vierge. The most memorable plate was, however, a sea bream tartare on a luxuriously verdant oil, with celery, spring onions, bitter radish and a smoked crème fraiche. 100% yum, especially with lightly toasted rye bread on hand to scoop it up.

Elegant: sea bream tartare. Photo: PR

Dessert? Simple delights, and not quite as impressive as the savoury courses: try the tiramisu with equal hearty proportions of amaretto, coffee and mascarpone. Oenophiles on a budget might wish to wash it all down with a light but Romanian pinot noir, a reasonable (for this kind of joint) £24 a bottle. And the extensive wine, beer and cocktail list is very comprehensive.

What else can I do nearby? Explore the bucolic East Village: a branch of ace craft beer bar Mother Kelly’s has just opened, and there’s the delightful Tina We Salute You, whose sunset terrace directly faces the Olympic Park.

In short: It’s an accessible but glam option for a celebratory meal, or even just a relaxed alternative to the Westfield chains. And it goes without saying that it’s entirely different than anything you’ll find in the neighbouring postcodes.

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Set lunch menus £15 for two courses, or a la carte, starters from £5, mains £10-32. The Stratford Brasserie, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park, 20 International Way, E20 1FD, more info here

Main image: PR

Leytonstoner ate as guests of the Stratford Brasserie. For more on our food reviews policy see here.

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