Early Saturday evening and the newly refurbished Forum, on Devonshire Street, was packed and noisy.
Luckily we did find a table quite easily. The cocktails offer from 5-7pm had clearly been a factor in the busy stakes, as standing groups drifted away and conversation became a little easier after that time.
We were quickly served drinks, and a scan of the menu revealed interesting food combinations.
Manager Don Cartledge said the new Oriental theme surprised customers initially, but was proving increasingly popular.
We chose a deliboard sharer to start. Think warm, flavourful goats cheese with lightly crisped crust, a tasty mix of home-dried tomatoes with dates and olives, smooth smoked feta, a lovely beetroot raita and a delicious warm falafel scotch egg with a light coating and perfect slightly soft yolk.
We could have used a few more pitta chips for the tangy sunflower and tahini dip, and raita, but every bit of this platter was savoured and left us eagerly anticipating mains.
One friend thoroughly enjoyed her falafel burger with grilled aubergine, tomato, spinach and tahini yoghurt, and was impressed with the salad of camargue rice with okra, sweet potato, red pepper and plantain banana. This was one of several fantastic-sounding salads.
Another chose spinach and red lentil lasagne but found it lacking in flavour and a little dry. My salmon and sweet potato fishcakes were a lovely fluffy texture and more spicy than I expected, with a hot garlic sarachon served separately. A green salad and french fries were standard.
For sweet, the home-made chocolate rolo brownie had sold out so we settled for a substitute salted caramel brownie with ice cream, presented beautifully with fresh raspberries. It tasted beautiful too. The toffee apple and bramble crumble looked, and was, very good, I was told, with plenty of fruit and buttery crumble.
We enjoyed latte and Americano coffees to finish (the Forum proudly roasts its own coffee on nearby premises). Its real ales, gin specialities and cocktails were in demand in its higher level, open seating area with wide, well-stocked bar.
A ‘slice bar’ sells huge portions of sourdough pizza with varied toppings.
Service at the Forum was excellent. Despite being very busy, waiting staff were so helpful. Opening hours extend to 3am and it has a great selection of breakfasts.
Food wise, the deliboard made the meal for us and is highly recommended.
Star rating out of five