Thursday, January 29, 2015
Review: Forge & Co, Shoreditch
I love helping Londoners with restaurant recommendations - especially on Twitter. One of the most frequently asked questions is about co-working spaces, or places where freelancers can plug in, settle down, and work for the day, all while enjoying a decent cup of coffee or food. Described on their website as a "social working space", Forge & Co (situated directly opposite the Ace Hotel in Shoreditch) does just this: its canteen and bar area is for socializing and chilling out, while its workspaces provide hot desks for freelancers and small businesses.
On Monday, I went to check out their Canteen and instantly loved the interiors: designed as an entirely open-plan space, the bar area is denoted with soft chairs, low tables, and a beautiful long bar of glittering spirits. The Canteen section housed several long, communal tables and more intimate seating designed for two people, while artwork hung on the walls.
As an American, one of the first thing I notice about restaurants is service. And London can be notorious for bad/indifferent service. But I was greeted warmly as soon as I walked into Forge and effortlessly catered to when I requested cocktails instead of the lovely bottle of red we'd been generously offered.
I asked the bar manager to knock up a "fruity, non-alcoholic" concoction for me as I'm currently participating in Dry January (otherwise known as, OHMYGODSOMEONEPLEASEHANDMEAGLASSNOMAKETHATABOTTLEOFWINENOW) and was presented with this berry beauty:
It tasted like a Starburst. All different kinds of wonderful.
Then we turned our beady eyes to the menu: it's varied (from sharing plates to salads), traditional (corn and herb fed chicken), and even brow-raising (Forge & Co are well known for their Ox heart burger - not for the faint-hearted! See what I did there? Heart ... hea - okay, sorry).
But because we've been missing our Pacific Northwest seafood fix, we plumped for the Dublin Bay prawns with caper butter. And they were ... huge.
The samphire was a great addition - I love a bit of samphire with seafood (except for the time I had samphire at Trullo, which was so over-salted that I gagged, and then was icily lectured by the waitress, "Madam, samphire is naturally salty." Sigh.).
Unfortunately ... the prawns were undercooked. Really undercooked. When they're done, prawns should have a meaty, whitish texture (prawns this big taste almost like lobster). This was transluscent and tasted strongly of the sea (read: fishy). Which was a shame, because we had to actually send them back. And I never send things back because it's embarrassing and I hate kicking up a fuss.
But - but! They were great about it. Our server whipped away our plates and returned, apologizing as the chef agreed the prawns were undercooked. I think this speaks volume about a restaurant: sometimes, it's not so much about the food, but how an awkward situation is dealt with - and Forge & Co definitely handled this with grace. On the rare occasion I've complained (albeit, as politely as possible), I'm used to being blamed (ahem, Trullo). So, I was impressed. We ordered the duck rillettes as a replacement, which came accompanied by some delicious rye toast.
Our main course of 28 day Speydside ribeye with chips (yes, we made the mistake of ordering the same thing again - we're so boring!) was nicely cooked, but slightly underwhelming. John thought his Bearnaise sauce tasted a "bit off" and I didn't love my salsa verde. To be honest, my focus was on the mini brussel sprouts with lardons (which we'd tacked on as a side), which were dee-li-cious. Seriously, I could've eaten another plateful of those on their own! And they were a terrific accompaniment to the steak (I actually prefered it to the salsa verde).
After having a huge hit (the cocktails) and a couple of meh-misses (the prawns and the steak), our dinner was suitably redeemed by this gorgeous chocolate fondant, served with a scoop of chestnut ice cream - a winning combination that you really can't go wrong with. The chocolate was perfectly melted in the middle, and the plating was so pretty, I felt a little bad digging into it.
Just to give you an idea of how pretty the interiors are at Forge & Co (and to show you what an utter creepster I am), take a look at their bathrooms:
THOSE SINKS, THOUGH. Aren't they dreamy? I'd love to have a sink like that in my future home. Can you imagine? I'd wash my face all the time just to stare into that pretty pattern.
But I digress.
I think that Forge & Co is a great place to meet for a drink with friends, grab a coffee during the day, or even brunch on the weekends. If I ever took this blog full-time (yeah, right - I wish! Could I also win the lottery, please?), I'd definitely consider camping out there.
With the food, I think there's some room for improvement, but we had a fun evening and the staff were just so darn nice, that I walked out thinking that I could walk right back in.
I was generously hosted as a guest by Forge & Co and Zomato UK - thank you so much! All opinions are my own.