The Gantry’s first floor restaurant, Union Social, offers not only comfortable indoor seating but also a wraparound terrace for alfresco dining overlooking Stratford and the London skyline on those rare warmer and drier days we sometimes have here in England.
The Gantry opened its doors to guests for the first time on 11th November, featuring 291 rooms, all generous in size and well kitted out with some nice subtle urban touches in a nod to Stratford’s history. In fact, the very spot on which the hotel stands today, is where the fastest ever built steam train was constructed. I had a look at two rooms and a suite, which I really liked, and hope to be able to bring you a full review of the hotel in early 2022.
I was, however in the meantime, fortunate enough to try the hotel’s new restaurant the day after it opened a few of weeks ago when the weather was far too cold to sit outside and was suitably impressed by both the menu and quality of service from such a new team.
Union Social’s indoor space is bright and airy with floor to ceiling windows that lets in plenty of light during the day and tables that are reasonably well spaced so you can enjoy your meal without having to listen to your neighbours’ conversation.
Adjacent to the restaurant is the rather elegant Coupe at Union Social Sparkling Bar with its illuminated counter bar and cosy banquettes. You can also enjoy a drink on the outdoor terrace. The bar is worth a visit before your meal so you can try one of their superb English sparkling wines from their regularly changing menu. You can choose from some of this country’s finest wines from estates such as Gusbourne in Kent and Rathfinny in Sussex. But if it’s a cocktail you’re after, then the award-winning mixologist Walter Pintus has created a ‘Travelling Urban Flavours’ cocktail menu to whet your appetite, inspired by the area’s roots.
In the restaurant itself, Sicilian chef Salvatore Coco has created a simple yet enticing menu with flavours from all around the world as well as a focus on local produce from Southeast England, that is meant reflect London’s dynamic food scene and international population. It offers, for example, small plates of Genovese focaccia and Bottega’s cured cuts with fresh cheese and rye sourdough, which is what we had to start with, along with some delicious prawn and potato croquettes with roasted garlic aioli.
The main course (Large Plates) includes a tarragon risotto with roasted autumn vegetables and a sesame glazed south coast Sea Trout with organic white miso infused ginger broth and bean sprouts, which is what I chose. The trout was cooked to perfection and was delicious. My dinner companion chose the slow cooked Hampshire grass fed Beef Cheeks that sat on top of a bed of pressed Lyonnaise potatoes and Lychgate red wine jus, which she happily informed me was superb.
The menu also offers salads packed full of healthy grains that are ideal for those of you looking for a light meal during the day.
The dessert menu (Sweet Treats) are what dreams are made of and reminded me of those classic English puddings. I was immediately drawn to the Thai Empress Rice Pudding with toasted coconut flakes and fresh mango but ducked out at the last minute and instead went for the dreamy, deconstructed Apple and Cinnamon Mess with Amaretti crumble, almond croconate and homemade vanilla custard. I was not disappointed. My dinner companion chose the classic Sticky Toffee Pudding with sweet crumble and Madagascan bourbon vanilla ice cream which she said was amazing! However, the chocoholics amongst you would probably choose the Land’s Philippines Chocolate Pasquier with a Faversham Snow Strawberry and Crème Fraiche.
A mention needs to go to the wine list at Union Social which has been selected by the delightful Steffano, the restaurant’s GM, who looked after us superbly and guided us through the wine menu, explaining why he had chosen certain wines. There are currently 15 white and 19 red wines starting at £28 per bottle, with at least three wines from each list also available by the glass. There are new and old world wines as well as a couple of wines from England (a Pinot Blanc from Rathfinny and Pinot Noir from Gusbourne). We however chose a lightly oaked 2017 Stonier Chardonnay from the Mornington Peninsula in Australia (£44), which paired extremely well with our meal.
A new rooftop restaurant and sky bar on the hotel’s 18th floor will be opening next spring, offering fabulous panoramic views across the London skyline.
I’m also informed that The Stratford Grocer & Co’s food market, deli and coffee shop is due to open in January on the hotel’s ground floor, offering a diverse selection of produce and curated wines and beer. So, watch this space for more from this exciting new hotel opening in East London.
Union Social, The Gantry, 40 Celebration Avenue, Stratford, London, E20 1DB, England.
Tel: +44 (0)204 549 7600
Located in The Gantry London Hotel in Stratford’s East Village close to the Westfield Stratford City shopping centre and Stratford International Station. The hotel is actually just across the road from the Stratford International stop on the DLR. So, if you take the Jubilee or Central line from central London, hop on the DLR for one stop.
Type of Restaurant: Casual All-Day Dining International Restaurant
Price Band: Medium
Insider Tip: I recommend rounding off your meal with a whisky by the fire pit on the terrace as we did.
Reviewer’s Rating: 9/10
Simon Burrell is Editor of Our Man On The Ground, a member of The British Guild of Travel Writers and professional photographer.
Photographs courtesy of The Gantry