Shoreditch High Street, for all its tech start-up glitz, product launches, and photography studios, is still remarkably shabby on street level. But no shabbiness makes it through the doors of Forge & Co, with beautifully etched letters on its windowpanes, pendant lighting and East London Printmakers’ images on the wall.
“We try to encourage creatives to work here,” the manager tells me, while giving me a tour of the building. Forge & Co combines hot-desking with a bar and modern grill in the heart of Shoreditch, directly across from the Ace Hotel. My dining companion, a prop scout, remarked she had been here for work drinks, and looking around it seemed there were several clusters of post-work drinkers.
Forge we were told is experimenting with several dishes at the moment so the menu will probably reduce once they have gauged what works best. For us though the standouts were the steak tartare – chopped raw beef and shallots with a glistening egg yolk perched on top; chateaubriand steak with bone marrow and chips; and baked Alaska for dessert.
The chateaubriand, coming it at a whopping 60 quid, seemed like a quintessential Shoreditch indulgence, but in fairness it fed three of us amply, and the steak was beautiful. The gelatinous marrow, that we scooped out of bone and spread over the steak and chips, infused the dish with an almost cloying richness. The baked Alaska also deserves further mention: fresh warm meringue and tart blackberry ice cream; of all the menu items, this I will need to eat again.
For a follow up drink to help you digest your rich meal, you could pop over to Joyeux Bordel, literally meaning ‘joyful mess’, an underground cocktail bar on Curtain Road. You go down some stairs into an intimate bar space where we were welcomed by some cheerful French waiting staff who guided us through a selection of rare vintage spirits and a list of original cocktails, one of which included a whole egg. If, unlike us, you haven’t already eaten, there are decent bar snacks including the ubiquitous rillettes and burrata.
Making my way home, I was intercepted by a tipsy office worker with two female colleagues in tow, who judging me to be local, asked me where to find “a fun place”. Since they were clearly looking for something a little more upscale than Bar Kick or Prague, I gestured them in the direction of Shoreditch High Street.
Forge & Co
154-158 Shoreditch High Street, E1 6HU
Joyeux Bordel, 147 Curtain Road, EC2A 3QE