By Jonathan Hatchman, Food Editor, @TLE_Food
With an increase in restaurants that focus on communal dining and sharing plates, Forge & Co. has recently launched a new ‘Modern Grill’ at its Shoreditch High Street restaurant. Along with the new menu launch, head chef Timothy Brindley has recently joined the team, having previously worked at Tom’s Kitchen and The Ivy. Inside, the restaurant’s décor is unsurprisingly contemporary and the atmosphere is resplendently casual – a breath of fresh air juxtaposed to many restaurants that share the same postcode. As for the modern grill, there’s a strong focus on steaks and grilled fish as well as a succinctly impressive range of 14 starters. There are, in fact, more starters on the menu than there are main courses to choose from.
To begin, the warm Scotch egg, as recommended by the waiter, is adequate though the yolk would benefit from being a little less cooked. The real highlight is – in fact – the mustard that’s infused with Guinness. Although priced at £5.50, the dish does is a little uninspired and overpriced. Fortunately, my companion’s Moules Marinara is much better. A generous stack of shells are delivered to the table as well as a finger bowl, encouraging diners to use their hands and make as much mess as possible. The mussels are well cooked and cleaned (which is just as important), but the real highlight is the sauce that makes its way to the bottom, almost like a very generously seasoned tomato and garlic soup. My companion’s main is also satisfactory – bone in rib of beef is cooked as ordered, and served with a gargantuan heap of fries. My main, is far less exciting: ‘Winter Truffle Pappardelle’ is in fact a pasta dish that’s generous on the mushrooms. In fairness, there’s a good variety used within the dish, but given that they’re not mentioned in the menu description, they’re a little unwelcome, as is the stroganoff-like sauce that coats each strand of otherwise well-cooked pasta. There’s also about four five-pence piece sized shavings of truffle. The dessert menu isn’t much clearer, without much hesitation we’re both set on the Baked Alaska. It’s a little dearer than the rest of the offerings on the menu, yet there’s no mention whatsoever of this being listed as a sharing dessert, we’re greeted with an assumption of extreme gluttony when we both order the same dish. It comes as a relief, nonetheless, that the dessert is the best course (other than my friend’s mussels). A pot of still-frozen blackberry ice cream and fruit is topped with a particularly cloud-like smearing of meringue that’s doused in alcohol and flambéed at the table.
Forge & Co.’s Shoreditch restaurant isn’t completely un-loveable, in fact it seems ideal for a Sunday morning hangover cure and retreat from the rigmarole of nearby Brick Lane, Columbia Road and Spitalfields markets. It’s also clear that the kitchen isn’t lacking in culinary talent, but what’s most disappointing is that the smallest of hiccups contribute to the grandest of impacts.
Forge & Co. can be found at 154-158 Shoreditch High Street, London, E1 6HU.