STK Steakhouse & Bar has been busy spreading its seed over the past couple of years. From New York City to Mexico, you’ll find it in a total of 31 locations, attracting everyone from me to Nicole Scherzinger. Stratford, which is known for its shopping, is the group’s newest international opening. After one dreadful trip there in the summer of '21 where a heatwave and sweaty crowds made for one of the worst shopping experiences of my life, I had little intention of ever returning. Fast forward to three years later, and I’m hopping off the tube in East London for indulgence in the form of steak and red wine with my boyfriend. But with one question on my mind: will this be our most awkward meal yet?
When I think of STK, I think party. 30 minutes into my visit, it’s clear my intuition wasn’t wrong. Sat down with menus in hand, the people around us were delighted to lean in to what this place is clearly known for. Tables of two were posing for iPhones with blinding lights, groups were singing happy birthday to their guest of honour, alongside plenty of tables letting their hair down, moving their bodies to the live DJ. I had brought my boyfriend and was skeptical of my decision. I love all hospitality establishments but there are certain places we go together and party restaurants just isn't one of them. Like a lot of people, I reserve that particular pool of energy for my inner circle of girlies. Concerns aside, we ordered our food plus a glass of rosé Champagne (£17) and a bottle of Asahi (£7). The service was rapid and after ripping apart the restaurant’s signature brioche bread, we all but wiped our buttery fingers before our starters arrived.
The wagyu tacos with caramelised onion, yuzu, kosho and sour cream (£19) were dainty; every bite rippling streams of juice down our hands. Fingers half-licked, half-wiped clean, we cracked onto the spicy tuna rolls (£18). They were made with yellowfin tuna and the fish came minced in neat balls on top of sticky rice with a sprinkling of crispy onions. I wasn’t blown away by the sushi but the strips of wagyu were tender and left us wishing for more.
In between enjoying the live DJ set and in anticipation of our mains, we topped up by ordering two rounds of Martin Melnert merlot (£13). The glasses were the size of a human head. Dry with hints of spice and vanilla, the sloshing liquid in our goblets paired perfectly with our bloody steaks. Two cuts - the 200g filet (£49) and the Wagyu pichana (£52) - were plated up with truffle mac and cheese (£18), triple-cooked chips (£10) and peppercorn sauce. As always, the peppercorn sauce was in short supply but when the sirloin is that good, you don’t need it; the meat cut like butter and popped in your mouth - melted like it, too. It's also worth mentioning the table-side theatrics we had before we picked up our cutlery. I had the option of watching a knob of butter being melted with a blowtorch. My partner said no; I said yes. Completely unnecessary, but like others around me, I scrambled for my phone to record the evolving buttery pool on my plate while my plus one looked on, praying for the whole experience to be over.
90 minutes into our meal, with empty plates cleared, the change in atmosphere was notable. Like a pan in the kitchen, the in-house DJ was heating things up with every turn of the dial. New groups were flowing through the elevator, flocking to both the bar and the restaurant’s open-air terrace. And although it’s not our usual vibe, we found ourselves staying for dessert, swaying even more to the upbeat music bouncing off the walls. The warm chocolate chip cookie (£13) was served piping hot, drizzled with caramel sauce, and served with a creamy scoop of vanilla ice cream. It got the thumbs up from both sides of the table.
The DesignMyNight Digest
People come to STK to be seen at STK. To tag it in their stories, to maybe create a quick reel for their side hustle. It knows what it is and it does a great job at bringing the party. In some ways it’s what I imagine going out in Dubai is like: flashy and with designer clothes as far as the eye can see. I was dubious about bringing my boyfriend but, in the end, we got out of our 'restaurant comfort zone' and had a lovely time. The service was quick, the food good, and the people friendly - I got a compliment about my hairband from a random passerby on their way to the ladies. It wasn't our usual date night for sure, but for something a little bit different it was worth the return trip to E15.
💰 The damage: £216 for dinner and drinks.
📍 The location: The Gantry Hotel, 40 Celebration Avenue, E20 1DB.
👌 Perfect for: A restaurant experience where you want to let your hair down.
⭐ Need to know: From Monday to Friday between 3pm and 6.30pm, you can order £3 oysters and £3 falafels.