This small bar in the Westfield shopping centre, just a few seconds from Stratford station, is certainly in a handy location whether you live nearby, are escaping the shops or are commuting into town. However, for anyone other than beer lovers it may not be worth going out of your way to visit Tap East.
Tap East calls itself a specialist beer bar and microbrewery; and micro is the word. This bar, rather hidden away at the back of Westfield in Stratford, is tiny, with only enough seating for around six groups. The location is clever – what more could bored husbands or weary, thirsty shoppers want than a comfortable pub full of over 100 beers, right inside the shopping centre? Overall, the décor is modern and quirky, with stripes of multi-coloured wood propping up the bar, beer mats covering the walls and beer barrels for tables. It’s a nice, bright space but it could do with being a lot bigger if hoping to cater for such a large shopping centre.
Just like Westfield, it’s almost always busy at Tap East so getting a seat isn’t easy, but it is definitely a great spot for setting down your shopping bags and refueling, or dropping off bored friends while you finish your search for that last Christmas present. Although Tap East have done a great job making it feel like a pub in its own right, it’s still difficult to forget you’re in a shopping centre, which doesn’t make for the most relaxed drinking session. It certainly doesn’t seem like a destination bar; you probably wouldn’t make plans to meet friends here for a night out unless you’re all big beer fans.
There’s a limited bar menu, or ‘Tap Eats’, which changes regularly. These snacks suit the beer offering fairly well, though. Try the Margherita pizza at a reasonable £5.70 or the bratwurst at £3.50 if you’re hoping to soak up those ales.
As a microbrewery, they’ve certainly got a lot of choice when it comes to beer. Draught beers change daily, but you can expect to find the brewery’s Scarred Belgian, Coffee In The Morning and Six Pence Stout on tap. As well as in house brews, there’s often Grolsch Blond, Fullers Frontier and Liefmann’s Fruitesse on one of the 16 fonts, plus Big Leaf Maple and Viven Imperial IPA. Tap East also stocks over 100 bottled beers.
The Last Word
For a bar in a shopping centre, Tap East has a lot more charm than you might expect. This is an obvious spot for shoppers or commuters to meet or take a load off, and it’s definitely attractive to beer drinkers since there’s such a huge selection, but its size and small food menu are unlikely to pull in punters far and wide.