Chester’s latest gastro The Forge is firing on all cylinders!
SAM | 5th October 2021
Chester’s latest gastro The Forge is firing on all cylinders! A fiery new restaurant is certainly making its mark on the Cheshire food scene.
The Forge in Chester is the brainchild of chef and restaurateur Mike Robinson, who’s enthusiasm for British food and drink has resulted in the latest opening of his new 70-seater restaurant, cocktail bar and private dining room in the city of Chester.
The collaboration with Castlebridge Hospitality is set alongside the Hotel Indigo on Grosvenor Park Road and provides a true sensory experience from start to finish.
The Forge continues Robinson’s passion for British food, using only British ingredients, with an emphasis on wild produce and sustainability. It’s his fourth restaurant, and his third within a Hotel Indigo building although all three run as fully independent restaurants.
His other restaurants include The Harwood Arms in Fulham, (the only pub in London with a Michelin star) the Woodsman in Stratford upon Avon, (the Good Food Guide 2020 best new restaurant in the UK) and the Elder in Bath, which has achieved great critical acclaim since it opened in 2020.
VIVA checked in to check out the seriously cool gastro that is a ‘forge of nature!’
Front of house, the vibrant young team are full of enthusiasm, and we were warmly welcomed with almost all the dishes highly recommended as their favourites as well as different wines that complement the flavours.
There is a stunning cocktail bar too, serving signature drinks designed for the bar by Robinson’s head mixologist Olly Hornby-Smith alongside delicious bar snacks.
There’s even a booze trolley that servers use to make each and every guest a choice of one of three cocktails that are prepared in front of you at your table as you peruse the menu. A novel way to pass the time. The Tommy’s Margarita (£10) comes highly recommended. Sweetly mixed, I asked for an extra shot for an added kick and the server was more than happy to oblige.
The open kitchen is front and centre in the middle of an elegant space, with a deep dark green colour scheme, duck egg blue, copper and there’s plenty of marble throughout. There are three leather booths for a more intimate dining experience as well as a private dining area. Antlers hang from the wall along with an abundance of foliage from the ceiling in line with the restaurant’s theme. It has a very Gentlemanly feel too it, think Hoxton Square kind of vibe. I like it, a lot.
Chefs cook over wood and charcoal, using amazing wild and locally reared meat, that is all aged on the premises. Oak, Ash and Beech from local forests will provide the fuel, imparting extraordinary flavour into the beef, lamb, game and venison on the menu.
The wild venison Scotch egg (£6.50) and whipped chicken livers (£10) are delicious. The slow cooked shoulder of roe deer to share is also a real treat. It comes with wood-fired beetroot, dirty mash (made from 50% butter), creamed spinach and deer gravy and is priced at a very reasonably £24 per person.
British fish is used, as Mike and his team believe that all restaurateurs have an obligation to support our fishermen and women. From hand dived scallops (£15) to Menai oysters (a steal at £4 each) and line caught Cornish cod (£25), you name the food you know from a place or region, they’ve got it on the menu.
The beef, lamb and pork are also sourced from farmers in the immediate area of Cheshire and are aged to a minimum of 45 days in the dry ageing cabinets that diners can see and even choose their own cuts from the display.
Wild Fallow and Muntjac venison come from Mike’s herds on estates whose deer he manages, helping actively to control the damaging effects of over population. All the venison is processed at Owl Barn Larder – Mike’s FSA accredited deer larder in the Cotswolds. Their venison distribution business – Deer Box – ensures The Forge gets all the venison needed.
Head Chef Curtis Tonge, a Chester local and huge young talent is heading up the kitchen team. With an enormous enthusiasm and passion for sustainable wild food he’s looking forward to welcoming Chester’s local foodies to The Forge.
He told VIVA: “Sustainability is so important to me in everything that I do. Here at The Forge, cooking, preparing and eating beautifully and consciously sourced free range and wild meat is as sustainable as it gets. It fits into my ethos entirely and I can’t wait to show the public what it is we do here that makes us so special.” Says Curtis.
Roux Scholarship 2020 finalist Curtis has been working in kitchens since he was a young lad and has spent his career working with some of the greatest chefs in the UK, with a particular passion for sticking to his Northern roots.
Curtis has worked alongside Liam McCay at Chefs Table as well as Simon Radley at The Grosvenor Hotel. As well as this, Curtis has trained under Lisa Allen Goodwin of Northcote, and had the opportunity to cook at Obsession working alongside 17 of this country’s greatest chefs with a collective 22 stars between them.
The ambience of ‘live-cooking’ from the open kitchen and the knowledge from the team on the menu really impressed us. A very delectable dining experience indeed and Robinson is a great believer in offering value for money to his guests, so the average price of dining at The Forge is on par with going to a gastropub – about £45 for 3 courses – with an amazing lunch menu offer too.
Opening hours are from Monday to Thursday 12:15-14:45 for lunch and 18:00-21:30 dinner although Saturday and Sundays differ: 12:15-15:00 for lunch and 18:00-20:30 for dinner.
VIVA VERDICT: Follow them on insta @the_forge_restaurant_chester to see more of their mouthwatering dishes or book a table to try the sensory experience as soon as you can!
The Forge is located on Grosvenor Park Road, Chester, CH1 1QQ.