ʽʽHi, I’m Benjamin Nunn – critic, gourmand and author of Ben Viveur. I like to eat and drink. And cook. And write.

You might have read me in an in-flight magazine, or a beer publication, but here on my own blog I'm liberated from the editorial shackles of others so anything goes.

I deal with real food and drink in the real world, aiming to create recipes that taste awesome, but which can be created by mere mortals without the need for tons of specialist equipment and a doctorate in food science. Likewise, I tend to review relaxed establishments that you might visit on a whim without having to sell your first-born, rather than hugely expensive restaurants and style bars in the middle of nowhere with a velvet rope barrier, a stringent dress code and a six-month waiting list!

There's plenty of robust opinion, commentary on the world of food and drink, and lots of swearing, so look away now if you're easily offended.

Otherwise, tuck your bib in, fill your glass and turbo-charge your tastebuds. We're going for a ride... Ben Appetit!

Thursday, January 12, 2012

January's Ale

I don’t think I’ve ever actually bought anything in a January Sale, and the ridiculous length of the queues at Westfield Stratford ensured that this record continued for another happy new year.

God knows why, in the Internet Age, so many people still find pleasure in the physical act of shopping – which in this case appeared to involve standing in a spiralling line that threatened to suffocate the very lungs and bowels of Primark customers – but apparently they do, and for some reason I offered to take Mrs B-V there last week.

The ‘some reason’, in truth, was the Tap East Brewpub which may very well be the only good thing about Westfield, and certainly one of the least crowded. At one point we were the only people in there, quietly drinking beer and playing beer top trumps whilst everybody in Primark was presumably still queuing.

Having spent the afternoon watching Coventry valiantly losing to West Ham, where the pies and sausage rolls leave a horrible margariney taste in the mouth, and the post-match experience involves a mile-long queue to get into Upton Park station, a cursory window shop was enough, but several pints were definitely on the agenda.

Ale, man, Ale's the stuff!
Run by the bods who own The Rake and Utobeer in Borough Market, Tap East is an American-style brewpub in look and feel, though they don’t do a full food menu or table service like you'd typically find in the States. Eats are restricted to plates of salady stuff from the chiller cabinet, which didn't appeal, and bowls of nuts from big jars, which did!

In US brewpub style, the brewery itself is visible behind glass, and as well as their own beers they offer a couple of guests at any given time. With six handpumps, there’s twice as many real ales on offer than at The Rake, although to be fair these premises are a lot larger, and conveniently located right by the entrance opposite Stratford International station, so you don’t even need to see any shops!

Their 5.2% IPA was the undoubted highlight – refreshing, hoppy and moreish, but I also tried their slightly fruity stout and the ordinary bitter (John Edwin, 3.8%) which was a bit thin and  underwhelming compared to the IPA. A Winter Warmer was coming soon, to replace the stout, and next time I’m in that part of East London I’ll have to try it if it’s still on.

I also found time for the only other beer on that I needed - a strong and malty bitter from the new Brecon brewery which really wasn’t my thing, but it made for a decent and varied range.

So if you go to Westfield, forget the stupid shopping and just go and drink beer.

Where to find it...

Tap East
Lower Ground Floor,
Westfield Stratford City
1EJ (map)

1 comment:

  1. Having been through Westfield Stratford I can only concur with your conclusions.


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