London Food & Culture

So you’ve never been to…Allegra, The Stratford

Instantly it's one of the best-value posh weekend set lunches in the capital

Age: Ooh, two months maximum.

Where exactly is it? On the seventh floor of the eponymous hotel opposite Stratford International station, right at the edge of the Olympic Park. It’s the cloud-tickling baby of the prestigious Manhattan Loft Corporation, the folk behind smart central London pioneers like St Pancras Renaissance Hotel and Chiltern Firehouse.

So what goes on there? Some very classy dining from Patrick Powell, former head chef of the latter. We took the lift up to try the Long Lunch, available every weekend and created by Powell “to embrace this lost art”. Right up our alley, we say, with a menu comprising “nothing too formal, just excellent, seasonal produce, largely grown at our Kent farm.”

Choux buns, bread and butter. Photo: Stephen Emms

What should I eat? Starters – after some moreish house bread with salted butter and green sauce – are laid out to share for the table. On our visit they included two vivid green pistachio choux buns filled with the most air-light chicken liver parfait; a plate of palate-cleansing delicate curls of baked pink Roscoff onion, charred at the edges, perched on soft fresh cheese with pickled shallots; and half a glistening January King cabbage, edges blackened, brushed in smoked bacon cream and sprinkled with crumbly, textural pangrattato. Utterly delicious.


Best of all? An umami-drenched salt cod brandade with tangy purple pickled carrots, all garlicky vinegariness, and a glow-in-the-dark yellow brown butter hollandaise.

And mains? It’s very simple: one meat, one fish and one plant-based option. A just-opaque slab of cod with spring onion, sticky baby turnips and coriander came alive with a clear fishy chamomile broth – a little like a dashi – poured over, with a warming hint of ginger. And crimson slices of tender bavette were dressed simply with leaves, parsley and crispy fried shallots. One of our favourite items was, in fact, an innocent-looking fresh green salad, the surprise being a fiery wasabi dressing.

So pretty: onions. Photo: SE

Desserts? The only miss-step, in fact, was a baked rice pudding that was too runny, its watery innards soon swapped for one with the correct consistency; its ally of Yorkshire rhubarb cut through smartly, however. And a soft chocolate tart was fired up by a smooth boule of ginger ice cream.

The interior: discuss. Unlike its downstairs brasserie – with its huge atrium ceiling and airy international feel – Allegra is intimate and comfortable, with understated baby blue seating, and plenty of room for solo diners at the counter. Houseplants add a homely aesthetic, too. Step onto the terrace – surely a diamond come summer – to gulp down those views.

And what do I drink? There are house cocktails to accompany the long lunch, although our seasonal bellini, at least to our palates, eschewed balance for sweetness; wine-wise a versatile, well-priced gamay proved an easy bedfellow with both fish and meat.

What’s the service like? As you’d expect; friendly-yet-formal. And no, they’re not rushing you through one bit. Long by name, long by nature.

Do say: ‘It’s only six minutes from St Pancras on the high-speed y’know.’

Don’t say: ‘Is it part of Westfield?’

Long Lunch at Allegra, Saturdays 12-3pm and Sundays 11-4pm, priced at £35 per person for five sharing starter plates, mains and desserts. Book at, The Stratford, 20 International Way, Queen Elizabeth Olympic Park , E20 1FD

Main image: PR

Gasholder ate as guests of Allegra. For more on our food reviews policy see here

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