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London is moving east. There has been much investment in
an area that already had good transport links. New building for both
housing and commerce has revitalised local economies and indeed
aspirations. H. Forman is best placed to enjoy the benefits of a rising
population that appreciates tastes of the good life.
Forman’s Restaurant and Bar enjoys uninterrupted views of the Olympic
Stadium across a river fringed by narrowboats. According to The Times
the restaurant boasts the best view of the Olympic Stadium at Queen
Elizabeth Olympic Park. It will host both the 2017 IAAF World
Championships in Athletics, and the 2017 IPC Athletics World
Championships. H. Forman's headquarters and restaurant are in the
building closest to the stadium outside of the Olympic Park, being only
100m away across lots of greenery and that little river.
H. Forman’s new location was opened by the former Mayor of London,
Boris Johnson, in 2009. The building was designed by award-winning
architect Phil Hudson, in the shape of a 'darne' of salmon. There are
lots of nods to this noble fish inside the restaurant with artwork,
ceiling reflections, shimmering bar front and banquettes in scale-blue.
Lloyd Hardwick is the Director of Operations at the restaurant. He
worked with the Roux Brothers, going on to become the first Executive
Chef of The Tate Modern. Pretty good credentials, so it’s no surprise
that the food here is so subtly impressive. Simple, traditional with
innovation, and just plain good. It seems to be all about fresh,
seasonal and comforting. It’s both British food and British drink, with
a hint of Eastern Europe along with East London.
London Cure Smoked Salmon is obviously a signature starter
here as it was the founder Harry Forman’s invention way
back in 1905. He came to East London from Odessa as a fish-curer,
but discovered the salmon of Scotland at Billingsgate
fish market. He changed his curing method to take advantage of
this sweet fish which was so different from the brined
imports from Europe. Here that celebrated London Cured Salmon is
served beautifully in traditional fashion with buckwheat blinis (little
pancakes) and a garnish of onion, capers and sour cream. It’s a
striking presentation which showcases that delicate fish which will
likely be nothing like the smoked salmon you were expecting. This
tastes natural and light and it’s totally addictive.
Warm Smoked Eel Fillets was my choice of starter. This made the best of
that flavourful and oily fish which was
once so popular. These were served atop Jersey Royals with capers and
mustard dressing. A simple dish made with familiar
ingredients but equally a dish that showed confident flair. Every
element brought something to the plate in taste and
Forman’s understands that not everyone is a fan of fish,
so for those, and also for the pleasure of the restaurant
regulars, they offer meat dishes too. My guest was tempted by
Pepper-Encrusted Rump of Rhug Organic Salt Marsh Lamb with Bubble and
Squeak and a Port Reduction. The portions here are
substantial and he pronounced his ample plateful to be delicious in
every regard. The meat was cooked to succulent perfection, with
additional flavour from the spice crust. A winner.
Seared Scottish Salmon was my choice of main dish. Once
again it was thoughtfully constructed. The fish was fresh-tasting and
moist with a skin that was crisp and mahogany in hue. Perhaps some
folks don’t eat fish skin but I subscribe to the
Japanese tradition of eating every bit of the salmon, and this was
delicious and with a hint of almost savoury umami. Once again it was
simple but absolutely correct.
But then there was dessert. No, I lie. This was always going to be the
pud from the old school of rib-sticking sweet pleasure. This is Golden
Syrup Sponge Pudding with Crushed Praline Ice-cream and not to be
missed. I know that polite society might sneer at such a
dessert in summer but I hope this one is ‘on’ all year round. To taste
it is to love it and it instantly bought back childhood memories. Yes,
that syrup is undoubtedly sweet but it has a taste all its own. Served
with the plain sponge this is unbeatable. Here it’s cooked and
presented in the iconic green tin.
I wasn’t sure what to expect from Forman’s restaurant. I had tasted
their smoked salmon before so I wasn’t surprised at that quality, but
the whole restaurant was a delight. It’s contemporary, bright and with
that view! But it’s the food that assures return visits. At the moment
it’s the culinary oasis of the locals and there will be more of those
residents as the area develops. It’s a company with history and
provenance, and I like their style. I’ll be back for Saturday brunch or
perhaps for some cocktails and a sharing platter. Yes, I’ll return with
Restaurant opening times
Thursday: 7pm to 11pm
Friday: 7pm to 11pm
Saturday: 10am to 3pm brunch. 7pm to 11pm dinner
Sunday lunch - Midday to 5pm
Last table at 9.30pm for Dinner and 3:00pm on Sundays