Check out what I thought of the latest restaurant on the London pizza and cider scene – The Stable, Whitechapel. (Short version: it’s amazing!)
Pizza is big business in London with heavy weights Franco Manca and Homeslice opening up branches across the capital but there is a new kid on the block and he’s about to give the veterans a run for their money – I’m talking about The Stable, Whitechapel. Serving up fresh pizza alongside the best craft cider this restaurant is sure to be a big hit!
Back in 2007 The Stable owners Richard and Nikki Cooper quit the music industry and London and decided to move their life and children to Dorset. They bought a dilapidated hotel in Bridport which after some serious renovation became the perfect setting for their first food and drink venture.
Anyone who knows Dorset knows that Real Cider from small scale producers is available in abundance so cider seemed like the natural place to start. With fresh produce also readily available Richard’s brother Andy (who also happened to be a chef) started experimenting with creating some extraordinary pizza. Forget Italian pizza for a moment this is real British pizza made with a sourdough base and, what some might call, controversial toppings.
And so the concept was born; they’d sell these weird and wonderful pizza creations alongside craft cider served in their stable.
Unsurprisingly it went down a storm with townspeople and critics alike and they’ve been expanding across the country ever since (from Bridport to Birmingham and everywhere in between). It wasn’t until earlier this month though that they ventured back to London for their first branch in the capital.
The Stable, Whitechapel
Located just a short walk from Aldgate East at the end of Brick Lane The Stable, Whitechapel is an amazing addition to an already vibrant part of London. The building is split into two parts with a bar in each. The front area is perfect for more casual day time eating and drinking. The large rear room on the other hand has a huge bar, a stage for live music, and an open kitchen. What’s more, they’ve kept the stable vibe going with exposed brickwork, wooden beams and long picnic style tables.
Much like their first ever restaurant, The Stable, Whitechapel has already been met with great praise – offering free pizza to their Facebook fans was a genius idea and saw punters queueing up quite literally down the street! As both a pizza and cider fanatic I knew I had to be one of the first people through the doors so just days after they opened Jon and I grabbed ourselves a table.
Being a food blog I should probably start by talking about the food but one of the biggest draws to this restaurant is its cider list. The Cider Tap in Euston has long been my favourite bar for a casual Friday night drink but now I can get pizza and cider under one roof I really am in heaven. There are over 80 ciders served at The Stable, some draught, others in bottle but I’m sure all are fantastic.
Rather cheekily, Jon and I both opted to get a tasting board (5 1/3rd pints) each. We let the bar staff chose 10 different varieties from sweet to bitter, fizzy to flat, and the odd perry thrown in for good measure too. I get so annoyed in London that most bars, pubs and restaurants only ever have Kopperberg or Old Mout if you are lucky. To be so spoilt for choice was a welcome change!
Tasting the ciders was definitely one of my favourite parts of the evening. We had some good fun critiquing each one. I was making Jon make “tasting notes” for us to refer back to and they are hilarious. Some of my favourites included:
West Hilton – 5% – cloudy, smells a bit like a farm yard, tastes better, full bodied, round in the mouth, tastes just like really fancy apple juice.
Cornish blush – 4% – rose coloured, lightly carbonated, sweet and fruity, Jon says blackcurrant, Emma says redcurrant, can’t agree, awkward argument…
Fire starter – 6% – a dessert cider, should be drunk to finish every meal, both dry and sweet, warming, cinnamon, smells like a love-child between apple pie and cinnamon buns.
Yellow hammer – 6% – looks and tastes just like apple juice, can this really get you drunk?!
Lilley’s mango – 4% – tastes like they injected a mango with cider, in a good way!
In between all that cider we may have had a slice or two of pizza…oh and don’t forget the garlic pizza bread. All of the pizzas are made with their signature sourdough crust. This gives them a real rustic, earthy taste allowing for robust flavour combinations on top. The garlic pizza bread is a real, heady, salty affair which I absolutely loved and the sweet, sticky cider really helped it slip down.
For my main I opted for the “King Crabber” made with hand-picked West Country crabmeat lightly infused with red chilli, garlic and lemon, fresh tomato sauce, roasted red peppers, fresh basil leaves, mozzarella, crème fraiche and parsley. It’s a really, really rich, decadent pizza but the flavours instantly transport you back to the seaside. The pizza comes with what initially looks like a garnish of a lemon wedge but after a slice or two you realise this is actually pretty essential and help cut through the rich toppings.
Jon (being a veggie…) opted for a vegetarian pizza, the “Dorset Street Blues”. This time the sourdough base was strewn with herb roasted potatoes, Dorset Blue Vinney cheese, roasted Spanish onions, English spinach, fresh tomato sauce and mozzarella. Yet again the flavours were big and bold, the pizza base perfectly crisp and the toppings cooked to perfection. But the real revelation of the night was just how well the cider stood up to the punchy flavour combinations and helped them slip down oh so easily. A blue cheese pizza might be a bit strong for some but when balanced with cider the cheese doesn’t seem all that stinky!
There are some other fantastic combinations on the menu: The “Longhorn Jim” is topped with Marinated Longhorn ground beef (from a lovely bloke in Dorset with the best herd around – apparently), Bath Pig Co. chorizo, field mushrooms, roasted red onions, yet more fresh tomato sauce and mozzarella. It then has another sprinkling of shaved Dorset air dried pork loin from award winning Capreolus of Dorset! I think I’ll be ordering that next time I go back…
If you’re not all pizza out after that lot then there is a dessert menu too. Now you could get cheesecake…but we went for a dessert PIZZA! It was a gooey concoction of sourdough, Nutella and cream. It was quite simply the best possible way to end the night. That being said, I was tweeting and instagramming away throughout our meal and discovered a dessert not yet on the London menu… a lemon meringue dessert pizza. Could this really beat Nutella?! I’ll have to go back to find out.
On top of the fantastic food and drink there was another standout part of our night at The Stable and that was the atmosphere. Good music, laid back punters and friendly staff make for a really relaxed Friday dinner. Too often in London the lighting is too dark, the music too loud or the customers are already half cut before they get to their table. But at The Stable you’re guaranteed a chilled out atmosphere much like you get when you’re down in the South West on holidays. I really hope that they manage to keep this vibe going because it really topped the evening off for us!
If I had to find fault I think it’s that I can already tell they are going to be a victim of their own success. Right now the restaurant is the perfect size but I can see demand outstripping supply pretty fast. I urge you to book a table and get down there to try it for yourself before they end up booked up 3 months in advance!
Disclaimer: my meal was kindly free of charge. I was not obliged to provide a positive review in return and all views are my own.