What and where? This contemporary European dining room from ex-Chiltern Firehouse head chef Patrick Powell is on the seventh floor of The Stratford Hotel. It’s right opposite Stratford International, where you’ll undoubtedly have hopped on the train to Margate, Deal or Folkestone at least once.
Since opening in 2019, it regularly makes the UK’s Top 100 Restaurants: it’s currently #53 – no mean feat. And from next week its hit tasting menu runs each evening.
What’s the vibe? With an earth-hued Scandinavian aesthetic, it’s intimate in feel, unlike the hotel’s bustling, high-ceilinged ground-floor brasserie.
Up here there’s understated baby blue seating, stone floors, mellow lighting and plenty of room for solo diners at the counter. It’s more casual and relaxed than you might imagine if you’ve never been.
A snifter outdoors first? Hell yeah, the leafy, Japanese-style Sky Garden boasts beautiful sunset views across Stratford’s urban landscape. It’s quite big so you can even enjoy a bit of a stroll, too.
Our cocktail tip – if you’re a negroni fan – is an intriguing Bitter Memory (below), made with a Danish artisan floral spirit called The Plum I Suppose, an in-house sweet vermouth and well-balanced blackberry shrub. Or try a smoky Clementina, with mezcal, Fino sherry and a tangy clemnentine cordial. Hard not to down in one, sorry (not sorry).
And so to business. The tasting menu started out weekly on Wednesdays a while back, giving diners the chance to try seven – count ’em – small plates for a set price (it’s currently £58). And it’s been such a hit that from May 31st it’s available daily. For a special treat, or a date night, this really is a delightful way to sample a restaurant that by now should surely have a Michelin star (we’re guessing the inspectors don’t ‘do’ Stratford).
Let’s begin. A winning trio of snacks – as well as moreish house bread with salted butter and green sauce – are laid out to share for the table (pictured below): tartlets of aged trout with celery, apple and horseradish, a gooey fried celeriac and leek bon-bons, vivid green pistachio choux buns filled with the most air-light chicken liver parfait. These especially are fantastic: an Allegra signature.
And then? The hit rate is bang on, as is the smooth choreography of the service. There’s barely a wait before the next morsels arrive: a citrusy Peruvian-style pollock ceviche (main picture, above) with leche de tigre, and little fried gnocchi (made with pastry not potatoes) accompanied by parmesan foam, salty pancetta, green peas and asparagus. Meanwhile, a just-opaque barbecued slither of plaice, its skin torched crisp, lounges alongside teeny-tiny Jersey royals with pickles, butter sauce and glistening trout roe.
And there’s more? There is. The symphony of savoury plates clilmaxes with a couple of slices of tender rosy grass-fed sirloin, the cutest triangle of Tropea onion tart tatin and a silken bordelaise sauce (made with red wine and buttery bone marrow).
The sweet courses tumble along soon after, a pre-dessert of lemon and yoghurt sorbet a palate-cleansing victor. Mind you, the mini strawberry and lemon verbena peaks tart, pictured below, explodes at the touch of the fork, too.
Some wine? There are options from about £35 a bottle upwards; our Picpoul de Pinet was £38. To be honest we’ve seen higher prices in some parts of Leyton and Leytonstone.
Anything else we should know? You don’t have to eat a full meal (although we really recommend you do). Swing by for a drink and a snack from the bar menu. Or hang out on the terrace with the new Happy Burger pop-up, which runs all summer. Oh, and the staff are super-friendly: say hi to smiley restaurant manager Clare and tell her we sent ya.
Leytonstoner ate as guests of Allegra. Stephen Emms writes about food & travel for The Guardian, Sunday Times and more.