Perched between the Olympic Park and Stratford Westfield, Haugen is a huge multi-level venue comprising a deli, cafe, restaurant, outdoor terrace and rooftop bar. You are unlikely to find snow in Stratford, but a visit to Haugen does feel like being transported to the Alps - the building resembles a ski chalet (albeit one on steroids), while inside feels warm and cosy thanks to attractive lighting and faux fur blankets.
Haugen feels primed for wintertime, but there is an abundance of natural light here thanks to large windows so it is a good shout for the summer too, while the aforementioned rooftop terrace offers up great views of the Olympic Park. Haugen’s clever interiors mean it feels simultaneously relaxed and luxe, but the real trump card is the menu; the Alpine-inspired fare is gloriously indulgent, with just the right amount of theatrical pizzaz to wow diners.
To start, we enjoyed a large bowl of truffled potato soup: thick, warm and with distinct truffle notes, it evoked all the feelings of comfort and joy that a good bowl of soup should. For mains, ordering one of the raclette wheel specials felt inevitable - who can resist a pile of melted cheese being scraped onto your dish at the table? The answer is clearly very few, as our server informed us they had gone through five whole wheels that day alone. This is not a case of shallow Instagram-baiting though, as beneath our rich raclette topping lay a top-quality beef burger, crowned with crisp bacon and served alongside golden skin-on fries.
Puddings include the likes of Swiss carrot cake, but big kids will find it hard to resist the childlike glee of chocolate fondue, served alongside an assortment of strawberries, marshmallows and more. Haugen’s bar is well-stocked with wines and gins and its list of house cocktails are worth your time too, with sober alternatives just as tempting (we could hardly tell the difference in our cherry-based Jib mocktail).
With its cosy vibe, tempting menu and staff who seem to genuinely enjoy their jobs, Haugen brings something new and fresh to Stratford. Throw in various enticing deals (happy hour, bottomless fondue brunch) and you have yourself a great alternative for when your budget doesn’t stretch quite as far as Verbier...