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’s restaurant 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 texture.
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.
Iconic green tin
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 pleasure.
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
For parties of 6 or more phone: 0208 5252 365
Restaurant review by Chrissie Walker © 2018