Union Social @ The Gantry, Stratford, London
Calling all Westfield Stratford shoppers! And any other inhabitants in the E20 area that might be reading…
So imagine, you have spent far too long (and far too much) in Stratford’s Westfield Shopping Centre, and you are dying for some sustenance. Or, perhaps, your other half wants to go shopping in Westfield, and you’re too tired to tread the boards. Instead, you’d prefer to sit on a nearby sun terrace, cocktail in hand, or even partake in a full lunch or dinner while the retail therapy continues apace around you.
The restaurant follows a small plates sharing concept (named Stack and Match) and is open from 12pm to 10.30pm, and the bar even later until 11.30pm, so all bases are covered. This leads me nicely onto the wine list, and a very fairly priced Prosecco (Baco da Seta) to start (£7). Or, if you’re so inclined to go for an English counterpart, you could opt for the fabulous English Gusbourne Brut Reserve. The only problem is you will want more than one! For the white, the French Granfort Chardonnay was a spectacular bargain for the quality at £6.50 a glass, and for the red, go no further than the Don Jacobo Crianza Rioja, punching well over its weight at £7 a glass. The Malbec at £8.50 and Louis Jadot Burgundy at £11.50 also impressed.
To get you in the mood prior to these agreeable wines you could sample a couple of looseners from their unusual cocktail list, notably the Mai-Pear-Tai, comprising white rum, pear, Amaretto, and lime.On the food side, a great way to wake up the taste buds is to try the Crushed organic fennel, including sriracha sauce and lime, and of course, fennel. It reminded me of a calmer kimchi. The Burrata was rich and creamy and was a perfect accompaniment to the warm semolina ‘Puccia’ bread. For our fish course, the Braised baby octopus with fava from Santorini and a new one to me – Crispy capers, was great, as were the mussels and clams in a rich tomato sauce. I got particularly excited by another new taste for me – Jack Daniels marinated boneless beef ribs. Lots of honey going on, and oh so good with that Rioja! I also tried the Pork keftedes, a kind of Greek meatball, and the tzatziki alongside was like bacon to an egg – a perfect match! By this stage, I only had room for one dessert, so to remind me of Budapest I was seduced by the idea of the Gundel crepe with walnut crème and chocolate sauce. And to top it off, the service throughout was delightful; thank you very much indeed Farah! So, following FoodNoise’s recent investigations into fun open-air spaces serving delicious food, Union Social could be just the spot for you. Shopping bags in hand or not!
Charles Pelham, FoodNoise
The Gantry’s Union Social Restaurant (Stack and Match menu),
40 Celebration Avenue,