Stratford may not be the first place that springs to mind when looking for a nice restaurant. However, if you leave the bright lights of Westfield far behind you and make your way over to the landscaped, pristine ‘East Village’ (near the International station) you might just find more than you bargained for.
If you haven’t been to the area before, it’s super peaceful, super clean and residents are treated to a banging selection of shops on their doorstep – think Bottle Apostle, a farmer’s fruit & veg shop, and modern juice bars. It’s not at all what we expected but we liked what we found. It’s like a souped-up version of Dalston Square, but with tons more going on.
One of the many restaurants you’ll find in this little ‘village’ is Darkhorse. The modern European restaurant won Timeout London’s coveted 2016 Love London Award for Stratford, so it’s clear it’s got a loyal local following.
Start your night at the copper bar and check out the strong cocktail list – you can’t go wrong with the classic Champagne Cocktail. For something with a bit more oomph the Sazerac with an absinthe rim will do the job. With a strong selection of wine & beautiful glassware, we settled in for the night.
Influenced by Italian and Spanish cuisine, we started with tapas style small plates. Salty padron peppers came alongside squid ink arancini (apparently they were taken off the menu for a while and it caused a mini riot). Mini skewers are laced with charcoal lamb pieces and Merguez sausage and topped on a fresh endive & pomegranate salad with salty feta.
Despite the summer style starters, it was a cold night and we wanted comfort food when it came to our mains. The chicken delivered just that – juicy with a golden crispy skin, the crème fraiche provided a decadent creamy sauce for lentils and charred leeks. The hake came in a vivid saffron broth with a scattering of mussels.
Make sure to keep room for dessert – Darkhorse suggest the ideal cocktail to pair with each.
Cheese is big here, either order it to start (they have our all-time favourite Mont d’Or!) or end your night with a trio and a glass of sweet wine.
We can’t help but think the view out of the floor to ceiling windows would be improved with a scattering of fairy lights. You may be moments away from a busy shopping centre, but we don’t want to be reminded of it.
A sweet *neigh*bourhood joint for those living above it, and for those wanting respite from Westfield.
*excuse the terrible horse pun.