The Stratford (previously known as Manhattan Loft Gardens) is nearly finished. There’s a few hotel rooms and apartments to be completed but the place is looking great. We had a quick tour of the building before dinner, including the epic roof terraces, that have pretty special views over the whole of London. The apartments are pretty swish too and although they get pretty spenny for the bigger ones, the cheapest ain’t too bad… it’s very easy to see yourself moving in.

Another reason you might consider moving here, is being in the same building as two restaurants. While we wait for Patrick Powell to open Allegra on the seventh floor, we have The Stratford Brasserie on the ground floor to keep us entertained. Ben Harrington (previously of Soho House) is the man in charge here, and there’s a huge open kitchen and dining room, plus outdoor terrace, and the whole place is bathed in natural light.

Ben is clearly a chef who knows how to design a menu – it’s one of those that has you agonising over what to order, as you just want it all. While deliberating, we got on with a couple of snacks, grilled romero peppers and anchovy on toast, plus chickpea panisse. The peppers were brilliant, a vibrant red with a sweet flavour that was balanced out by the salty anchovy. We weren’t such fans of the chickpea panisse which was a little on the dry side.

Stratford Brasserie

We then moved on to a beef tartare, which could have done with a bit more seasoning to be honest, but we did love the addition of ‘beer crisps’ which were essentially like scraps from the fish and chip shop, and added a nice bit of texture without resorting to the usual thin bit of toast. We also had excellent fresh asparagus served with a whipped ricotta.

Given it was one of the hottest days of the year, we went for lighter fish dishes for the mains, although all the burgers, steaks and fries coming out of the kitchen did look amazing too. The sea bass was our favourite of the two, perfectly cooked with a crisp skin and served with a crab mousse stuffed in a courgette flower. We also had the bright pink fillet of trout, served in a mead broth with samphire and mussels, which was a good but not outstanding dish.

For dessert the dark chocolate and passion fruit delice was a thing of beauty but for us the black sesame ice cream wasn’t the right accompaniment. It might seem boring, but we couldn’t help thinking that a chocolate and passion fruit pud is just crying out for an amazing vanilla ice cream.

All in all we had a very good dinner at The Stratford Brasserie and if you live in the area (or even on the floors above) we think this is a great neighbourhood restaurant to have close by. There were a few niggles but nothing too major and as it’s early days, this place will probably just get better over time.

20-22 International Way, London E20 1GQ