"An exciting venue, but a disappointing meal"Review Rating: Reviewed by Leila
On Camden’s Parkway the famous Jazz Café has been putting on soul, jazz and hip hop gigs for 25 years, but walk up to the parallel road and you’ll find The Forge, which in any given month may have Congolese rumba, spoken word, Afrobeat, comedy and modern interpretations of Bach among their listings. As a non-profit, all the money they make is poured back into being able to fund this eclectic programming.
There’s also a restaurant upstairs, which this summer is offering Latin American food; think Brazilian feijoadas, Cuban sandwiches and arepas, corn flatbreads filled with meat, cheese, black beans and salsa. Unfortunately we’re unimpressed with our meal - one arepa to share between the two of us as a starter takes 40 minutes before arriving wrapped in foil and fresh from the microwave, the top layer of black beans, melted Cheddar and pulled pork is warm but the rest is cold.
Although we’re the only people eating here we wait a further 20 minutes for the mains; ‘pescado a lo macho’ translates as ‘manly fish’, and is a fairly uninspiring fillet of hake sprinkled with salty prawns and coated in thick tomato and garlic sauce. The whole plate has also been shoved in the microwave, which means the lettuce and tomato are piping hot. We do however like the Cuban sandwich, with generous slabs of pulled pork, ham, Swiss cheese, gherkins and American mustard.
On the plus side it’s a nice and intimate venue, with eco-friendly touches like solar panelling and a six metre living wall. From the window seating in the restaurant you can watch the bands downstairs, and ticket prices for performances are affordable, sometimes free. For an area that’s seeing its famous nightlife eroded to make way for identikit chains and expensive flats, the existence of The Forge is very important.
Leila reviewed The Forge on Fri 24 Jul 2015Review disclosure: reviewer was invited to review