At first, I wasn’t sure quite what to expect from a summer residency above one of the most eclectic venues in Camden, but arriving upstairs at the Forge Cantina it in fact seemed nicer and more permanent than a lot of places to eat nearby – a nice chilled out vibe with the same wood-panel decor as the rest of the venue downstairs.
I made sure to check out the Cantina on one of the many music nights the venue holds, grabbing a table next to the inner-looking windows so we could see the bands downstairs set up and start to play as we ate. We were treated to a ska/reggae band, but depending on what night you drop in this could be anything from Afro-beat to Classical (as I said, a pretty eclectic venue!)
The menu is fairly small but everything on it sounds awesome – a similar story with drinks (one choice of red or white wine, with a few selected beers you won’t see in too many other places alongside a few well-known staples). We opted to share a starter of arepas (Venezuelan corn pockets filled with a choice of fish, pork, beef or vegetables) which was probably a good choice to accompany the drinks as they were very stodgy and filling, but equally delicious – I recommend the pulled pork. If you are feeling extra hungry you should be able to tackle one of these solo and still hit a main course too.
Talking of which, I went for an Argentinian chimichurri steak sandwich, and my guest went for the pescado a lo macho (which I promptly stole a few cheeky forkfuls of – it was amazing). I was really impressed with the sandwich (a loose term as it was pretty chunky – think deep-filled Philly style), the steak chunks were cooked well and seemed great quality – no gristle, good for just getting stuck into. High-quality, although perhaps a little on the pricey side at £10, but very nice as a treat. I couldn’t resist going for some plantain fries as a side, too, which were delicious and again not something you’d come across in many other places.
Drinks were also a little expensive, but the wines we had were very well chosen to go with the food and not exactly astronomical. In fact, that seems to be the theme with the Cantina overall – it is a little on the pricier side, but not enough so to seem outrageous compared to other places to eat around Camden. The payoff is a genuinely nice spot where you will be able to get a table in a relaxed setting just off the main road and get some good value, high-quality food. The music is a bonus and I would very much recommend heading down to the main venue afterwards when there is a live music night on – if you can actually stand up after those amazing Arepas, that is…
The Forge Cantina
3-7 Delancey Road
Tel: 020 7383 7808