Forage, Badminton Road, Downend Review

Forage is as fresh and zesty as the ingredients on its menu; a boutique restaurant newly opened in Downend and we want to know why does Downend have all the luck? Their innovative and highly creative chef has put together a menu that is fine food at is best, using locally sourced produce and seasonal ingredients. I’ve seen this written on many restaurant’s mission statements and I have to say that Forage is the only one so far where the food has confirmed that this is indeed the case.

The interior gives a nod to the name, with panels of variegated green and gold foliage (the door to the toilet is completely hidden by this), which gives warmth and texture to the black and gold marble floor, and table. Small chandeliers and visible filament lighting provide a welcoming mood and the vibe is chic and funky.

The dinner menu teems with promise; starters such as cider mussels, champagne and peach salmon gravlax, smoked whipped goat’s cheese and mustard seed panna cotta draw you in, but I knew I would love roast chicken and wild mushroom broth, with miso glazed chanterelle mushrooms sous vide and Sherston hen’s egg, whilst my husband chose pressed terrine of ham hock and capers with maple bacon and damson chutney and charred bread. The bread comes from an artisan bakery in Stapleton and I can attest that it’s the best bread I ever ate.

For main course, the fillet steak caught our eye (the meat comes from a local supplier and is aged in a Himalayan salt chamber which intensifies the flavour and breaks down the enzymes making for a more tender product); a definite choice for my husband, served with triple cooked duck fat chips, Portobello mushroom and watercress. I chose wild mushroom and rainbow chard tagliatelle with cold smoked hazelnut and wild garlic pesto, sprouting broccoli, and goat’s cheese snow (surely an appropriately seasonal form of goat’s cheese!).

What can I tell you? We loved everything down to the last mouthful so that we couldn’t even look at the pudding menu. The roast chicken and wild mushroom broth was delicately flavoured and intricately done; the hen’s egg yolk was a little island floating in a sea of broth which when spooned onto the large piece of crusty bread was delicious. I was hopeful of a piece of the ham hock, but it was gone before I had a chance, including the damson chutney which was apparently the best.

Our main courses continued to delight us; the tagliatelle was an inspired creation, particularly the smoked hazelnut and wild garlic pesto, and best of all I got right to the bottom of the bowl without the pasta cooling which is hard to achieve. The fillet steak was meltingly tender, flavoursome, cooked rare and just right. It was so good that unusually for husband he ate it all which is a great compliment to the chef.

The team at Forage certainly know what the are doing both in the kitchen and front of house and my recommendation is to try this as soon as possible before their mighty talents take them somewhere else!

Jacquie Vowles


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