3 February 2015
Forge & Co
Sports luxe. Colourful clothes. Beyonce. You know when practically everyone you know is raving about something but you just don't get it? That's kind of how I feel about Forge & Co. I want to like this place - there's bits about it that I absolutely love - but if my feelings were actions, they'd be something akin to a half-hearted shrug.
When Zomato and Forge & Co invited me down last week, I jumped at the chance. The twinkling windows opposite Shoreditch's Ace Hotel had caught my eye on more than one occasion but I hadn't yet made it inside the juggernaut that combines a canteen, bar and workspaces. I've heard it's great for brunch and judging by the buzzing and welcoming bar when we swept inside, it's popular in the evenings.
After a glass of wine at the bar - well stocked and well lit with a contemporary industrial feel, we were shown to our table. There's a mixtures of long benches for groups, individuals for two and low sofas for those wanting to kick back. I sat looking out over the restaurant which gave me ample opportunity to observe everyone else being served and waited on apart from us.
We waited for half an hour for a food menu - we decided to see how long it would take but then hunger pangs made us intervene - and to have our drinks refreshed. We went for a bottle of Lebanese red which was gloriously smooth and moreish, and brought to the table by one of the warmest, friendliest barmen I've ever been served by in London. Swings and roundabouts, right?
We decided to order the meat sharing platter to start which was loaded with 'British air dried meats' that looked suspiciously like prosciutto and parma ham, chorizo and duck (which tasted more like pork) rillettes. Okay, not the best order to test a kitchen's mettle but it was tasty nevertheless and a generous portion for the two of us.
I'd had my heart set on the whole lobster (£34) so ordered that - to be told that I wouldn't be able to manage it - so plumped for the whole seabass before deciding that, actually, I didn't want to go for my fail-safe fish and I really did want the crustacean after all, no matter how huge. What came out was half the size of the Burger & Lobster offerings (which are between 1lb and 2lb) and definitely not enough to satisfy one person, let alone two. S ordered the rib-eye steak (£21) which came overcooked with a small bit of watercress on the side and some soggy chips. Hmm.
Perhaps we were expecting too much from a place that models itself on canteen dining - but at these sorts of prices, we were expecting slightly better quality. And service. We waited twenty minutes more for our plates to be cleared, putting us completely off ordering any puddings, and realistically any return visits. As we left, the manager was apologetic and explained that he didn't know we'd been there to review - but I don't feel this is an excuse as every diner deserves to be treated well, whether or not they're reviewng the place.
As I said, there are a few good points about Forge & Co: the nice bar, the fab barman and the excellent music. What I left with, however, were the not so good of the poor service and average food. Rating? Three out of five.
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