I’m one of those people who’ll go significantly out of their way to step on that crunchy looking leaf. I seriously love everything about this time of year in London from falling autumn leaves to the twinkling lights, not to mention the opportunities galore to tuck into hot chocolate and other seasonal hot beverages between a spot of Christmas shopping…
How perfect then that Selfridges London has brought together many of our favourite seasonal elements in the form of it’s latest rooftop pop-up – the Forest Restaurant & Bar.
In just a week’s time, Des McDonald’s team have turned the Cornish fishing village, Vintage Salt, into a winter forest replete with pretty foliage, fairy lights and tree trunks that form an elegant backdrop. It can’t help but win you over from the time you make your way through the enchanting entrance, a particularly Instagram-worthy moment.
While already booked in for dinner on a Saturday night, I spontaneously decided to trek over to the Forest slightly earlier for a cocktail and chinwag with the lovely Bella Franks, whom I haven’t seen in far too long. She’s been a busy bee organising charity events for incredibly worthy causes, whilst simultaneously holding life drawing classes right out of her living room… We had lots to catch up on and had no trouble making ourselves comfy right away.
The rustic restaurant makes for cosy surroundings with flannel blankets thoughtfully draped across the chairs in the dining area. There are a couple of barrel-shaped tables and stools by the bar but where you’d really like to be, is in the cabin bars on the terrace outside – mini huts decked out with faux-fur throws and cushions, along with curiosities that wouldn’t be out of place in a country home…
It’s going to take several trips back to do true justice to the heady list of wintry cocktails which features amongst others, a Truffle Martini (gin, vermouth and truffle oil); a Fancy Nogg (brandy, Frangelico, milk, cream, honey, hazelnut and nutmeg); and a Gingerbread Chocktail (gingerbread liqueur, rum and hot chocolate).
Faced with a dilemma between a Flat White Martini and a Pumpkin Bellini, our server’s clever solution was to bring me the former albeit with a splash of spiced pumpkin syrup, that made for a deliciously boozy pumpkin-spiced latte!
As for the food menu, hearty wholesome comfort fare is at the core, championing seasonal British produce from the nation’s forests, seas & wilderness: mallard on toast; baked game meatballs; roe deer fillet; duck shepherd’s pie…
Veggie dishes were bound to be relatively limited in comparison, but proved delectably sufficient for me and my other friend joining for dinner.
We started with baked Cornish brie served with truffle honey and ancient loaf – a beautiful balance of flavours. The sweet yet distinctly earthy taste of the truffle-infused honey sharply cut through the soft and creamy cheese that we drizzled it across, while the rustic bread added a needed crunch.
A side of sweet potato tartiflette turned out to be a richly indulgent affair – generous wedges of sweet potato baked with oodles of cream and cheese…
As you can see, Bella got quite involved in the foodtography session before she had to dash off..
… While Anokhi and I moved on to share the truffle mushroom risotto for mains. The rice may have been a tad too sticky, but on the whole we loved the strong, robust flavours running through the dish, which was so generously laced with truffle oil.
We finished with the Black Forest dessert – light chocolate mousse layered with salted caramel sauce, more caramel syrup, blackcurrant gel, ground wafers and crushed pistachios, chocolate sticks, honeycomb and meringue. A cornucopia of sweet, tart and crunchy textures, it was wildly perfect.
The restaurant slowly emptied at some point between dessert and our chatter, leaving me to realise that I had merrily spent close to four hours here by then! What’s more, I could quite happily do the same again.