The Forge Camden
3-7 Delancey Street, London NW1 7NL
The Forge is a music venue with an attached restaurant in Camden that I first reviewed a couple of years ago. It was opened in 2009 by musicians Adam and Charlotte Caird and since then has presented a mix of classical, jazz and world music as well as running a variety of club nights. When I visited the restaurant was operating as a mid-priced brasserie with a fairly extensive modern European menu. This has now been changed with a more focussed choice of three small and four large plates at dinner as well as a burger menu.So I was interested to asked back to review and this time I was also able to catch a show in their bespoke music space.
The feel of the Forge now is more local arts centre than posh restaurant but the bar staff know how to mix a cocktail and the unnervingly named Pink Mojito (£8) and Mango Tango (£8) were actually really well-blended and not too sweet.
For our starters we ordered the Roasted Mushrooms with goats cheese (£6) which came stuffed with thyme, garlic, mushrooms and topped with caramelised onions. It was rustic but well-executed.Gravlax (£7.50) came with a rather too robust horseradish cream and good granary bread. Both dishes would be great either as a pre-show snack with a drink or as a starter. For mains we had Salmon en Croute (£12) with crushed new potatoes and spring greens which had a good pastry and moist salmon, and a moreish Macaroni Cheese (£8) that I shouldn’t have finished but did.
After dinner I moved into the intimate music space with a glass of house white to enjoy the Arensky Chamber Orchestra performing Bach’s Art of Fugue and Strauss’ Metamorphosen. The Bach composition is the pinnacle of Baroque contrapuntal writing here rearranged for solo strings and it was a delight to hear the fugal subjects and their development separated out to individual instruments. Strauss’s Metamorphosen also has contrapuntal compositional elements but the Arensky’s managed to draw out the intensity of emotion in this memorial for bomb-destroyed Munich.
I really like the ethos of The Forge and I think it plays a really positive role in Camden’s cultural mix. It’s a space that musicians want to play in, a space that allows for innovation and experimentation away from the more commercial constraints of many other venues and alongside the art you can get a decent plate of food and a killer cocktail. What’s not to like!