Last week, I was invited to a pie and ale tasting and as a root-respecting northerner down south, I leapt at the chance. Few things in the capital’s increasingly sophisticated, ever refined world of cuisine beat the simplicity and tastiness of the pie and beer, age-old combo.
I stepped out of the bitter cold into The Forge & Foundry. Sure, it’s just one of Camden’s many live music venues but it is frankly, in a league of its own. Not a garish neon sign or a string of fairy lights in sight just an impeccably well thought-out music venue.
The Forge boasts a stage, a grand piano and high ceilings for fantastic acoustics and can be treated as a separate entity to The Foundry where food and drinks are served. On Friday evenings the soundproof wall is drawn back and Forge and Foundry join together meaning that diners can enjoy three course meals and drinks including rosemary infused vodka and lavender gin whilst listening to jazz, blues or soul.
Run and owned by classically trained, husband and wife Adam (a pianist) and Charlotte (a saxophonist), The Forge & Foundry is sophisticated yet fun with an adventurous new menu (orange and fennel risotto or cocoa ravioli, anyone?) that, granted, perhaps does not fit with the stereotype of ‘Camden cool’.
Charlotte was keen to emphasise the importance they place on keeping all of the three key elements, the food, the booze and the entertainment, consistent. Other similar venues have less desirable nosh, some restaurants showcase half-cooked live music and some pubs concentrate on food and bands while the booze itself suffers.
This month will see The Foundry attempt to rebrand the last day of the working week as ‘Pieday Friday’ – an ambitious goal considering what’s on offer around NW1. Regardless, pie possibilities will include old favourites such as chicken and mushroom, sweet pies including pear and almond and, my rather surprising personal favourite, a veggie option stuffed full of spinach and mushroom with a sharp parmesan cutting through it which we teamed with a superb full bodied, Indian Pale Ale from the Meantime Brewing Company.
If you’re ordering a pie to go, don’t leave without a generous glug of onion gravy which is sweet and sticky and the perfect accompaniment.
As the vast majority of produce is bought locally, flavours will vary depending on what’s in season. Luckily for me, the beef and stout pie made with Meantime Brewery’s stout was on the menu for my visit. Concluding it would be almost rude not to quaff a glass of the very same black coffee, chocolate and ‘burnt toast’ flavoured stout whilst munching, I obliged. This meaty pie was filling without being heavy but this option is the nearest to the traditional, not prefixed with the word ‘gourmet’, pie you’ll get here.
Pie and ale is undoubtedly a tremendous union. For me, it is reminiscent of football matches and cold but cosy winter days. Unfortunately, it seems The Foundry has overlooked the third and fourth parties that make this union so complete – a good old dollop of mash and a steaming portion of mushy peas. Without those two sidekicks, I’m not sure Pieday will be the success it could be.
The Forge & Foundry
3-7 Delancey Street
Tel: 020 7387 5959