Camden is synonymous with great music, but not always great food. It’s an area that’s buzzing in the daytime amongst the markets and canal and then lights up again in the late hours of the night, but it’s the time in between that most jump to surrounding areas for dinner.
So when I was invited to a venue promising great live music and an impressive menu, I was a bit sceptical. The spot is The Forge & Foundry, a multi-purpose space tucked behind Blues Kitchen off the Camden High Street.
It’s deceivingly small from the outside but has a retractable wooden wall at the back of the restaurant that opens up to reveal a stage and additional seating, ‘The Forge’. Inside, the restaurant side, or ‘The Foundry’, is quiet for a Saturday evening, but quickly picks up and is a packed house by 8pm.
The menu is a nice selection of British favourites, a few European influences and a section of sharing platters that lend themselves perfectly to groups of friends coming in to catch some music.
I chose one of these sharing plates as my starter, the Cheese and Meat Ploughman’s Platter, a good mix of British cheeses, honey roasted and parma ham, gherkins, grapes and fresh bread.
My guest had the King Prawns served in an almond cream with hints of grapefruit. It’s an unexpected combination but good nonetheless.
Our mains consisted of the stuffed Quail, an innovative twist on a comfort meal, served alongside lentils and a spongy mushroom cake, and the fish of the day – a buttery fillet of red mullet paired with a honey mustard reduction, equal parts sweet and savoury.
We order our desserts just as the ambience music kicks up a notch and the lights dim. The wooden doors begin to retract to reveal The Forge, and a stage with multiple instruments set up.
When dessert finally does arrive, it’s quite dark and loud in the restaurant, so we hurry to finish before the show starts. My guest enjoys the Lady Grey Tea Cake, a known favourite of the restaurant. Its soft cake outside reveals a crunchy centre of hazelnut and pistachio and sits amongst a white chocolate soup.
My chocolate ganache and walnut tart is rich and pairs perfectly with the poached baby pear and vanilla foam.
It’s now a full house as the first act of the night takes the stage. It’s quite interesting to see how the venue has transitioned from a quiet restaurant just a few hours ago into a bustling music venue.
While we definitely enjoyed the full dinner and concert experience, it would be good as a casual night out with a group of friends to take in some music. Whichever you fancy, it’s worth a visit.
Tip: Arrive early to secure a prime table facing the stage and to ensure your meal is complete when the music kicks off around 8:30. It gets quite dark and very loud – making conversations nearly impossible!