East London is home to plenty of critically acclaimed restaurants, but the dynamism of the area’s food scene has never quite stretched as far as Stratford. Hoping to change that is Manhattan Loft Corporation founder Harry Handelsman, who is also the man behind The Stratford, a collection of hotel rooms and short-lease apartments.
The Stratford is right next to Stratford International and hopes to draw people away from the second-rate chains of Westfield. The ground-floor is home to an all-day brasserie that is headed up by Soho House alum Ben Harrington, while on the seventh floor you’ll find Allegra, a fine-dining proposition which is overseen by former Chiltern Firehouse head chef Patrick Powell.
Allegra’s dining room follows a Scandi-style aesthetic of luxury minimalism – think a muted grey colour palette, plush tub chairs and splashes of marble. The space also benefits from a wraparound terrace which truly comes alive during the summer season, when it boasts a separate menu and views of East London landmarks including the Olympic Park.
Allegra’s modern European menu follows a hyper-seasonal approach, making use of organic ingredients sourced from a farm 40 minutes away. It’s refreshing to dine from a menu that doesn’t dictate that tables have to share their food – especially because we wanted to keep our starter of confit chicken wing all to ourselves. The meltingly soft meat was cut into cubes and adorned with shards of crispy skin, while the addition of cheese croquettes, oozing with melted parmesan, lifted the dish into another realm entirely.
The skill in the kitchen was also evident in our main courses. We liked the look of roast suckling pig in a Bramley apple glaze, but ultimately opted for three strips of blushing Welsh lamb – startlingly tender meat with just the right amount of fattiness, which was complemented by a dollop of sweet red pepper romesco.
Before dessert, you can explore Allegra’s selection of signature cocktails, while those skipping pudding altogether can head straight to the separate bar by the restaurant’s entrance. If you do want your sugar fix, we’d recommend the delightfully sticky honey cake, served with a scoop of vanilla ice cream that cuts through the richness.
It’s yet to be seen whether Stratford is ready for, or even needs a restaurant like Allegra, but the sweet-natured staff, chic interiors and truly enchanting food were enough to convince us.