London Larder was devised in 2012 to bring you the ultimate eating and drinking guide to London. It was borne out of a need for up-to-date, quantitative and whole-heartedly recommended places to eat and drink.

Wednesday, February 6, 2013

The Forge and Foundry


Pie and beer. Beer and pie. Is there a more wonderful phrase in the English language than these three short words? In the depths of the British winter, it’s the ultimate comfort meal: golden crispy pastry, hot rich fillings and a big glass of ale to wash it all down with. We may have to do a few more minutes on the treadmill to justify the calories, but it’s worth it every time.

The Forge and Foundry in Camden Town is half music venue, half bistro, and completely unique in the area. While every pub in Camden has a stage for indie bands, the Forge is a clean, modern space for classical music and jazz performances, making it a little classier than the surrounding venues. The artistic space is separate to the restaurant area but with doors that can be opened up, meaning that if you want to watch classically trained musicians while you eat, this is the place for that.

The focus for our visit however, was very much on the food, and we were here to sample the new range of pies now on offer every Friday at The Forge and Foundry’s weekly Pie Day. Here you can choose to eat in-house and take away, but if you stay in you will have the opportunity to eat the pies alongside the range of different beers available to complement the specific features of each pie. A perfect once-a-week treat to ease you into the weekend.

We kicked off with the vegetable pie which was stuffed with spinach, mushroom and parmesan in a creamy sauce, paired with Meantime Indian Pale Ale. The rich earthiness of the veg is complemented by the bitterness of the hops and the sweetness of the malt. A light and refreshing beer, the IPA is a classic recipe that Meantime has recreated using all-English ingredients for authenticity.

If you like a meatier pie however, we recommend the classic chicken and mushroom variety. To enjoy it properly, smother it with onion gravy and accompany it with buttered green beans and new potatoes. We complemented this with another pale ale, the London pale ale, once again from Meantime. As the second largest brewery in London, they should know a thing or two about making London pale ale and here they have created a beer with a slightly citrus sweet aftertaste.

Our personal favourite was the beef and stout pie: chunky beef in a beautiful sauce of dark stout and veal jus, accompanied by carrots onion and celery. A cut above your average steak and ale pie, the beef melts in the mouth and the sauce is so good we want it with every meal. Naturally, it’s best enjoyed alongside a glass of the stout with which the sauce has been made; lighter than Guinness without the distinctive creamy head, but packed full of flavour with a slight aftertaste of coffee and intense dark chocolate.

The chocolate flavours were enhanced with our final beer; the chocolate stout. You may imagine this to be like a chocolate milkshake, but you’d be wrong. The bitterness of seriously strong cocoa runs through the beer and the roasted malt has a flavour similar to coffee, making this taste halfway between an espresso martini and a coffee cream chocolate. It sounds crazy, but dessert wine has been popular for years, so why not try a dessert beer? We sampled this alongside the dessert pie of almond frangipane and pear, which uses the same pastry as the savoury pies but without a lid. Coated in castor sugar, it is a delicious way to finish a pastry-themed meal.

If we had one criticism, we would say that the pies could have been slightly bigger, but perhaps we’re just being greedy. They would make an excellent lunch option at £4-£5 to take away or £6-£7 to enjoy in house with sides. Camden has long been short of decent places to eat – the area has plenty of great bars but very few places where we can line our stomachs beforehand. The Foundry fills this niche perfectly, a relaxing sanctuary of quality food with an oasis of highbrow culture at the Forge, hidden amongst Camden’s myriad grungy dive bars. It’s worth coming here for the selection of beers alone though – as we were told during our visit, ‘If you have a favourite beer, then you probably don’t actually like beer’.

3-7 Delancey Street, NW1 7NL

Average price of pie: £5
Average price of glass of beer: £4

Food/Drink: 5/5
Service: 5/5
Value: 4/5


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