The Forge

December 7, 2007

14 Garrick Street, 020 7379 1432;

(November 21, 2007) We were wandering near the West End with no restaurant in mind, but definitely hungry. One restaurant after another that we passed seemed either too touristy or not interesting enough. Finally we peeked into The Forge, looked at the menu and took a chance. The dining room is brightened with lots of street-side windows, plus a large fireplace, and brick walls. The prices, three courses for £16.50 and 2 for £13.50, were certainly a welcome respite from the astronomical ones we had been experiencing.We both chose the grilled chicken breast with creamed leeks as our main course, but Gary started with a penne pasta with goat cheese in a tomato pesto, which turned out to have a very complex but great beef-based sauce made with dill and olives.Varian’s starter was grilled salmon with Parmesan risotto. We finished with a cheese plate of eight cheeses—Belgian, English and French with a great assortment of biscuits.

By the time we had finished our first course and watched what was coming out of the kitchen. we knew we had stumbled into a real find. Near the end of the great meal, we saw the chef at the bar talking to some of the staff, so we asked him to come over. He sat with us for quite a while.

We learned that he gets his meat daily from a farmer in Cumberland who drives it in. This farmer has both sheep and cows which get just the right part of the grass for their digestive sytems, the former eat the chomped down grass on the hill after the cows have eaten the top inch or so. The result is tremendously tasty and tender meat.

The restaurant is only seven months old. It was designed to be a destination restaurant, not pre-theater as are most in the area, and it is succeeding. They get a big business lunch crowd and leisurely diners in the evening. It had a former incarnation as “Inigo Jones,” one of the best in London in its heyday years ago, but with a different entrance and a different atmosphere.

We will definitely come back when we have time to try the dinner menu.

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