The redevelopment of Stratford continues apace, with new tower blocks and hotels popping up along Stratford High St every few months. Unfortunately this has meant that the majority of the area’s industrial past has been wiped away, although there are one or two exceptions. The Yorkshire Grey, the 18th century coaching inn which was derelict from 2006 has returned as the Westbridge Hotel, a smart new boutique establishment. Further along the High St, this is also the case with the old Dane printing ink factory – the western-most building is now the Dane’s Yard Kitchen, which I visited last night.
Dane’s Yard Kitchen really takes advantage of the architecture – a new steel, glass and wood-panelled extension comprises half of the restaurant while the remainder sits within the walls of the old factory building. The exterior walls become a feature of the slick, double-height bar area and white-washed brick arches bisect the main restaurant, providing a more intimate setting for the tables at the rear where you’ll also find the open kitchen area. Outside there’s a large terrace for al fresco dining and you’ll discover a particularly amusing remnant of the old Dane works, which has been lovingly restored and reinstated on the wall just outside the entrance – right now they’ve also got a table tennis table set up for particularly energetic patrons!
In terms of the food offering, Dane’s Yard Kitchen takes the traditional British menu and gives it a gentle twist, no doubt influenced by its antipodean management team who know a thing or two about livening up conventional dishes. A range of ‘small plates’ suitable for snacking include smoked eel with horseradish and creme fraiche and Scottish mackerel pate with a walnut, apple and celery salad, while mains include braised pork belly with apple, shallots and red cabbage and Anglesey sea bass with samphire, clams and chervil beurre blanc. If your tastes aren’t particularly adventurous the menu can cater to you too, with Dane’s Yard signature fish and chips or you can plump for a juicy steak with mushrooms, chips and watercress smothered in a bearnaise sauce.
I should mention what I think is the best section of the Dane’s Yard menu (or any restaurant for that matter), their heavenly desserts. I ate my way through several of the items on offer, including the delicate caramelised banana and coconut cheese cake, their Scottish raspberry bread and butter pudding and an absolutely more-ish vanilla panna cotta garnished with blackberry and elderflowers. I wish I could have tried more! If you’re not in the mood for food then you can just visit the Dane’s Yard Kitchen bar. There are banquettes at the street-facing end of the building next to the bar where you can sit and sample some of their sophisticated cocktails, some traditional and some of their own creation – the latter have enticing names such as the Dane’s Yard Iced Tea and the rather cute Stranded East, which is a deep red affair with more than a dash of Grey Goose vodka as one of the ingredients.
Dane’s Yard Kitchen is very easy to find – just head along Stratford High St away from the centre until you see the Strand East Tower – the restaurant sits right in its shadow just off the canal. You will not be disappointed if you pay them a visit – what’s on offer is a world away from the rather predictable chain restaurants just up the road at Westfield…