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Smack-bang in the middle of the Westfield Stratford complex, expect this place to be heaving next month when the Olympic crowds get to town.

The scene: Choose to either sip cocktails al fresco on the terrace, which leads to the shopping centre, or head inside for funky, bright decor and chilled-out dining. House music is the order of the day as we sit in the oversized, brown seat at the back of the venue, overlooking the other orange booths and the drinkers in the tall chairs at the bar. Although it’s a Friday night, it’s not rammed, but there’s a buzzing atmosphere as shoppers pop in for post-retail-therapy relief.

The grub:
Choose from a range of starters, salads, sandwiches and main courses. My husband opts to kick things off with the crab cakes, which are served with a delicious papaya salsa and chipotle remoulade. I’m served huge, soft slices of buffalo mozzarella, with sliced tomatoes, basil and olive oil. We’re off to a good start. Next up, Rich gets the 10oz rib eye steak, which comes with the biggest handcut chips I’ve ever seen. The meat is cooked to perfection and gets the thumbs up. My baby spinach salad boasts a soft poached egg on top of new potatoes, mushrooms, tomatoes and a mustard vinaigrette. The portion size beats me, but I’m not done – managing to order a far-too-big-for-one chocolate brownie for dessert, which is so hot, it burns my mouth. We wash our meals down with a Red Lotus (vodka, lychee liqueur, cranberry juice) and a Manhattan (Canadian club, sweet vermouth, bitters), both of which are divine.

Behind the bar: A solid range of cocktails (frozen/champagne), nine choices of each red and white wines – with some decent options on offer, such as Chablis and Barolo – and lots of bubbly.

Bill please
: Starters from £5.95; mains from £10.95; cocktails from £6.75; wine from £16.50 a bottle, £4.10 a glass; fizzy stuff from £29 a bottle, £6.50 a glass.

Verdict: Worth a visit, even if you’re not shopping at Westfield.

123 The Street, Westfield Stratford, E20 1EN
Tube | Stratford
balans.co.uk


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Restaurant review: Westfield brasserie Balans, in Stratford
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