Things To Do In The Olympic Park: Try The Food

Look mum, no brands!

One of the more unexpected aspects of the Olympic Park is just how little branding there is. Sure, the megacorps have their individual pavilions, which are basically three-dimensional walkaround adverts, and lots of people seem ‘proud to only accept Visa‘. But hit the food courts and you’ll see signs only for ‘jacket potatoes’, ‘fish and chips’ and ‘drinks’. It’s like walking into an alternative reality, where KFC, Yo Sushi and Starbucks don’t exist. Only McDonalds has crept into this parallel universe, with two huge burger caverns where the queues look like this.

So what’s the other food like? We’ve tried several of the brand-less street food vendors on our visits to the park, with varying degrees of satisfaction.

Thai 

We opted for the vegetarian version of the massaman and rice, which clocked in around £6 (sorry, we failed to take a note). For a vegetarian dish, it was liberally decorated with an uncustomary amount of meat. On reporting the slip-up (and after the ravenous meat eater in the group had devoured the otherwise pleasant offering), we got an apology and an explanation that “the lamb curry does look a bit like the veggie curry, we may have got confused”. If you’re a strict vegetarian, perhaps look elsewhere for your grub.

Tapas for two and a lamb-heavy vegetarian massaman.

Spanish Tapas

Tapas for two (pictured) came in at around £12, which felt like reasonable value for the quantity and variety. You get the choice from around a dozen dishes, including different paellas, spicy meatballs and various salads. None of it’s exactly haute cuisine, but for £6 a person, you get your fill.

Fish and Chips

Olympic Park purveyors of our erstwhile national dish hit the headlines after reports that they couldn’t sell chips without an accompanying dish, because McDonalds had the official and exclusive rights to such transactions. As it turns out, the chips are lacklustre anyway: the kind of dismal variety you’ll be familiar with if you frequent London’s late-night kebab takeaways. Disappointing, given that the proper chip-shop chip is one of Britain’s great contributions to world cuisine. The fish, on the other hand, is surprisingly good, with a generous portion size and decent haddock-to-batter ratio. The free sachets of tartar sauce were also a welcome sight. Total cost £8.50, which is on par with some central London chippies.

Deli shops

The shortest queues can often be found at the deli shops, which sell pre-packaged and refrigerated snack food, ideal for taking into sporting events. These are absolutely fine — pricey, and average quality but efficient, and perfect for food-as-fuel rather than an enjoyable experience.

Booze

Some drinks vendors attract long queues, others are fairly quiet, so move around if you don’t fancy waiting in line. Alcoholic drink options are limited to one type each of red, rose or white wine, Heineken, cider, an unbranded ‘ale’ and something Pimms-ish. The prices, as you can see below, are inflated, but not outrageous for a festival site. Happily, you can take your drink more-or-less anywhere on the Park, just don’t lob your empties at Usain Bolt.

There are many other options around the Park that we haven’t yet tried, including a couple of ‘Sea Food and Champagne bars’, which offer a perhaps welcome refuge from the garish colours plastered all over the rest of the Park. One of our writers also tried a “Mexican” thing that was “completely, almost impressively, flavourless. Also, a latte from “Speciality Coffee” that had a crust on it”.

Please do share your experiences, good and bad, in the comments below.

Other Things To Do In The Olympic Park

  1. Find the Fact Benches
  2. Bait Jake Humphrey
  3. See the phone box art

 

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  • Tim

    I had one of the pork and stuffing rolls that were on offer in the hockey stadium, and it was about 90% stuffing – pretty poor.

    I also had a pie and mash at Earl’s Court, and despite having to wait for fresh mash as they’d run out, it was lukewarm at best and the gravy was very thin. The pie was nice though.

    • http://twitter.com/JovitaDWoodward Jovita D. Woodward

      that sounds like a good beef and mustard sandwich to me – I hate the Pret-style fashion for chucking loands of leaves and fruit in a sandwich. http://FreeLancerGetWork.blogspot.com

  • http://twitter.com/londondear doreen

    At Excel, I bought vegetarian noodles in black bean sauce for £6.50 while watching a ping pong match. Although heftily portioned, the noodles were the most appalling thing I’ve tried to eat in recent memory. The black bean sauce was entirely too sweet–like a bag of Tate & Lyle exploded in the pan while cooking–and had no flavours that even remotely evoked black bean. I found myself picking for the canned baby corn bits because even their tinny, salty taste was far more preferable than the abomination of noodledom. I felt slightly ill afterwards.
    A friend of mine paid £5 for a sandwich that would have been embarrassing among a group of Pret sandwiches. It consisted of merely beef and mustard.The pleasure garden outside of Excel seemed to have better options for food, so it may be best for anyone else going to Excel to catch any events there, unless you feel up for having noodles traumatise you.

    • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=60507533 Alex Cragg

      Yeah, I had the chicken in black bean sauce and that was equally awful as what you describe.

      I can only describe it as mush.

      There’s no wonder so many people queue for McDonalds, I’d take that over those noodles any day…

  • Williambradley

    I ordered a pint of unbranded ‘ale’, expecting something dark and tasty. I was presented with a can of John Smiths. Bizarre.

  • GORN

    Are there bookies on-site, or do you have to do any betting online using iPad or similar?

  • GORN

    “A friend of mine paid £5 for a sandwich that would have been embarrassing among a group of Pret sandwiches. It consisted of merely beef and mustard.”

    that sounds like a good beef and mustard sandwich to me – I hate the Pret-style fashion for chucking loands of leaves and fruit in a sandwich.

  • Guest

    Waffles at hockey were good but pricey.  There are a few decent coffee places at the Excel (barristas making espresso in the main corridor) but the food offering looked poor.  Lots of proper food choices at the O2, inside the security but outside the ticketed area.  Food ran out at Old Trafford both times I went, but the pies were ok while they lasted.  For some reason, they insisted on removing the tops from the soft drinks at Old Trafford, but not at Wembley.  Most beer is in 330ml plastic bottles, but some places sell draft beer in plastic pints (c.568ml) at about the same price.

  • http://twitter.com/ecoalexander Alex Woodcraft

    Pork and stuffing at the Hockey was generous when I ordered it, particularly when I asked for crackling and got a further mound of that. It was £8 though and the roll wasn’t that fresh. 

    Best bit was a piece of carrot cake from the Deli, sat untouched under one of those nice glass cloches I could have been in a village tea shop, surprising and very pleasant.

  • http://twitter.com/gooneruk Rob

    There were plenty of wandering beer and water sellers, at least in the area near the stadium and Aquatic Centre. £4.30 for a bottle of Heineken, if memory serves.

  • Hughredwood

    The sausage in a roll at the basketball arena was surprisingly good – no anaemic frankfurter for sure.  Only complaint was one had to queue to pay and then queue again to collect 

  • Rachel

    I’ve had great food everytime I’ve been. Wimbledon, Horseguards, Olympic Park and Greenwich. That’s because I took a packed lunch!

  • Kevin

    At Excel, friend of mine took me to curry unit, called ” Mint Leaves”, located in the half way down on the left hand side in the boulevard. Lamb Rogan Josh & Fish Amritsari was delicious, good portion size. Thoroughly enjoyed.
    I would definately recomend you to try that.

  • Kevin

    Yah, here it is