Best of Stratford: What to do While You’re There
Ryan Deuter is an American writer living in London. He is the author of personal accounts of London in his blog Yankee In London and also reviews Spanish-language films while doing various freelance activities. You can follow him at @aYankInLDN
A resident neighbour of Stratford for the past two years, I have seen the city transform from an avoid-at-all-costs area to a tourist hotspot in the advent of the Olympic games. It is now common place that many visitors end up in this part of London to see the spectacular Stadium and explore Europe’s largest mall, the newly-built Westfields. While these venues offer many options to fill the day with, I set out to explore and find the dime a dozen venues that are often overlooked in this neck of the woods.
Beautiful thick doors adorned with golden painted Near East designs and clunky handles are a mark of quality rarely seen in East London. Welcome to Dar Marrakech, known for its Lebanese and Moroccan themed cuisine. It’s also an ideal place to pop into briefly for a “Turkish” coffee- a strong, spicy aromatic caffeine dream served with the poshest sugar holders you’ve ever seen. There is a cozy outdoor area for romantic evening meals or late night laughs. If that isn’t enough to catch a mellow, relaxed buzz, the Middle Eastern smoking delight of shisha is available in various mouth-watering flavours to puff away to- not recommended for competing athletes.
403 High Street, Stratford, London E15 4QZ www.darmarrakech.co.uk
Carts & Horses
Alleged by staff to be the birth-place of Iron Maiden, this pub is quite a traditional British venue with pool tables, outdoor smoking area, booth seating for group meals, and pub quiz. Guitars and banjos ornament the walls behind a small stage where live acts perform on Friday and Saturday nights. Iron Maiden pictures and posters are ample throughout. Drinks specials include £9 beer pitchers, £1 “cheeky shots” or £9 “fishbowls”,a tasty yet horrendous concoction of spirits reputed for its migraine-causing attributes.
1 Maryland Point, Newham, London, E15 1PF www.cartandhorses.co.uk
Stratford’s Got Swagga
A recently converted cocktail bar and club from a Latin-themed venue, this is a place to go for a couple of drinks with the boys (or girls) on a Saturday night. Music is primarily deep house, tech house and small elements of dubstep; although there is an RnB room to bump and grind in as you feel necessary. Leather sofas, TVs, and a fancy bar are a recipe for an interesting time here. Cover charges are typical London of about £10, but come in a group with some pretty ladies and if you play your cards rights you might get a discount. Reported to sometimes have a 90% female occupancy, this is a place for the single lads to sport their chinos and brogues in a dress to impress joint.
27 Broadway, Stratford, London, E15 4BQ
A delicious, homemade assortment of decently priced food awaits in this quaint, Polish cafe. Be adventurous and order the Kompot, a traditional stewed fruit mixture of strawberry, cherry, cranberry and sugar. It’s a cold, refreshing beverage that will set you back just one pound. A good atmosphere with comfortable seating to escape populated areas.
The Grove 198, London, E15 1NS
Stratford Centre (A.K.A. old, less-attractive mall parallel Westfields)
While most attention will be focused on Westfields, an interesting fact remains that when the sun goes down the old mall actually transforms into an indoor roller-skating arena, enabling enthusiastic and nimble participants of the sport to glide around freely.
Recently back in operation after being officially occupied by Japanese Olympians for purposes of sports-related back massages, here is a venue with an array of theatre shows, art exhibitions, and orchestras. Zumba classes are also out there for all you exercise junkies looking to burn a few calories after a day of binge-eating or pub-crawling.
Theatre Square, London, E15 1BX www.stratford-circus.com
There is a market comprising of pop-up stalls selling close to everything, just behind the Stratford Centre. As an American native, I first discovered the phenomena of Caribbean meat patties in London, which are conveniently available here. This delectable dish is normally selling for next to nothing, and it’s a tasty alternative to the overpriced faux-gastronomy available in the adjacent super-mall. There’s also a coffee-cart called “Novello” present selling very potent blends of espresso shots to boost you up on your journey through the city.