East London Food & Culture

Holly Tree E7

A beginner’s guide to…The Holly Tree, E7

Hearty gastropub fare on the edge of Wanstead Flats. What's not to like?

Where exactly is it? Right on the edge of bucolic Wanstead Flats, the Holly Tree almost overlooks Jubilee Lake, with its waterfowl, pontoons, rushes and picnic benches: a lovely spot, even if the skies are March-grey.

So what goes on there? This 1870 watering hole has, you may recall, a very spacious garden and capacious interior, all lovingly restored by Remarkable Pubs, a reliable group at the helm of about 15 or so pubs across the capital.

Holly Tree
Our fave spot: the red room. Photo: SE

What should I eat? Think safe but tasty gastropub fare. On previous occasions the small plates have been decent, but the mains are arguably a stronger bet.

On a chilly evening a beautifully golden-skinned hunk of chicken supreme (below), marinated in soy, garlic and spices, came chargrilled with saute potatoes, chorizo and grilled veg salad. It was surprisingly delicious, suitably filling and, at £15, not bad value these days. Our friend raved about his porcini mushroom risotto with roasted veg, pea shoots and parmesan, too.


The interior? Let’s start outside: when the weather improves you can expect something of a tropical vibe in the outdoor areas, with more than a palm tree or two, along with painted booths, heaters and chessboard tiles on the tables (heck, there’s even a train). Meanwhile, inside is all dark parquet flooring, roaring fires, blood-red walls and panelling, with the stained glass reno’d right back to the dizzy heights of its Victorian grandeur.

Chicken Holly Tree
Chargrilled chicken with chorizo. Photo: SE

And what do I drink? There are East London craft beers, plus a cocktail and wine list (the potent Bloody Marys are recommended after a Sunday walk on the Flats). This is a pub that screams destination, a little like sister boozers The Shakespeare over in Stoke Newington, and Inn on the Park in Hackney.

What’s the vibe like? It’s big enough to be divvied up to accommodate the whole community peacefully: there’s a section mostly populated by families and buggies, and around the corner an ‘Adults only’ so couples, singles and the kid-less can enjoy their time, too. Good work, guys.

Follow @thehollytree_e7, Holly Tree, 141 Dames Rd London E7 0DZ. More here.

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