London 2012 was a big success. Cast your mind back to Wednesday 6th July 2005. London beat Paris to host the 2012 Olympics. This led to 7 years of cheap jokes, cynicism and classic British self-deprecation.
From Danny Boyle’s wonderful opening ceremony, through to great performances from athletes and the concept of “Olympic legacy”, this part of East London has been transformed. They’ve still not finished, as you’ll spot on the walk here from Stratford International station. Loads more building work still going on and it’s going to be a few more years before everything is fully complete.
It takes just six minutes to get here from St Pancras. Six miles in six minutes on the Javelin train. By car or underground it would take you six or seven times as long as that. So this part of London is now accessible for people approaching from the north. You can now watch West Ham play at home, as they have moved away from the Boleyn Ground, with claret and blue lighting up the London Stadium.
There’s plenty more Olympic venue action to be had too, with the Aquatics Centre and Copper Box arena still seeing regular sporting action.
Down at Here East (the former Olympic broadcast centre) you can now find bars and restaurants, looking out on to the River Lee Navigation, just a stone’s throw from the A12, which starts life just down the road at the Blackwall Tunnel and winds its way through Essex and Suffolk before finishing up just sneaking over the Norfolk border into Great Yarmouth.
One of these bars is Mason and Company, the brainchild of Edward Mason (owner and director of The Five Points Brewing Co, based in a railway arch under Hackney Downs station) and Rachel Jones (founder of street food company “Capish?”)
With those two people involved, you’d expect great beer and great food. You get just that. There are 20 beers on tap to choose from, as well as numerous bottles. All of these can match with some street food classics, including a meatball sub, steak brioche, and fried chicken or aubergine parms on brioche (think posh KFC).
Plenty of sides to choose from, Italo-fries (skin on fries coated in oregano salt), courgette fries, a Hackney salad (which is much nicer than it might sound, remember this area has been regenerated!) and a few other bits and pieces. Let’s have a quick interior shot…
First up, a beer. Bosko by Pressure Drop Brewing (who also brew in a Hackney railway arch) is a nicely balanced American IPA, with fruity notes, as well as hoppiness and bitterness.
It was chicken parm for me, Italian fried chicken thigh, marinara sauce, basil aioli, sautéed kale and parmesan crisp on a brioche roll. Very much a posh chicken burger, accompanied by those Italo-fries.
Another beer to accompany this tasty food. We have to go south of the river (at this time of night?) for this one, to West Norwood and Gipsy Hill Brewing Company. This is Day Tripper #1, full of flowery citrus hoppiness and lacking paleness like most American pale ales do. Lovely stuff.
One for the road. Err, train, since I have to catch one to get home. This was also from Gipsy Hill, Hepcat, an awesome session IPA which was way better than many so-called IPAs. Delicious bitter hoppiness.
Fantastic beers and lovely food make this a go to destination if you are down at Here East.