Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Seeing The Forresters for the trees

The latest ownership change at The Forresters in Surry Hills (once renowned for its $5 steaks) has seen the pub take on an Italian bent, thanks to the same guys behind the revamps of the Norfolk, Flinders, Carrington and Abercrombie pubs.

From Central Station, The Forresters is the third pub you'll see heading up Foveaux Street, and requires quite a serious uphill hike past the Merivale-owned Excelsior/El Loco. A quick bevvy at the rather dodgy KB's - the first pub - might be needed to steel the nerves of the stiletto-heeled up that incline.

The Forresters dining room, corner Foveaux and Riley Streets, Surry Hills
I'd never been to The Forresters regularly in the past, even when it was one of the work locals, but this revamp has seriously upped the ante.

In addition to the front bar and booth-lined diner style room, there's an outdoors-y section and a newly opened third level for "sit down dinners"; although the same menu of Italian hits is available throughout the venue.

Even when sharing among three, the one-page menu of snacks, salads, rotisserie of the day, pizzas, pastas, mains, sandwiches and sides makes choosing an appropriately sized meal a little difficult.

Smoked mozzarella arancini
Easy enough to share are the arancini of smoked mozzarella served on a river of a tomato-based sauce. Well sized and perfectly golden, the forks in the tin cans on the tables are deemed the cutlery of choice for the arancini, although we could have gone with either the knife or spoon as well.

Smoked mozzarella arancini
While some of balls didn't quite ooze with melty smoked mozzarella, the smoky flavours were certainly present amid the creamy risotto; although some of the rice was on the undercooked side and crunchier than desired.

Poppers - pork and sage stuffed fried peppers
I'd never imagined that the battered and deep fried combination of capsicum and pork mince with sage could be so eye-openingly scrumptious; helped along with a flavoured aioli of sorts.

These, designed to be 'popped' into the mouth in one go, had some quality filling and were unexpectedly juicy - most likely with juices from the cooked capsicum - hence, the unglamourous shove-it-in-in-one-go approach.

Balsamic ribs
The quite-generous portion of ribs from the snacks part of the menu was a pleasant surprise, and it was these that had the table in a finger-licking lull. Beneath the tangy glaze was a familiar array of spice flavours, giving depth to the soft pork that nudged easily off the bone.

Pizza with nduja, tallegio and mashed potato
We skipped over the $50 Pay Day pizza option (with lobster, truffle and truffle salami) and went with one of the white based options (as opposed to tomato's red base). While I was immediately drawn to the nduja salami paste topping, I hesitated at the carb-on-carb action that was mashed potato on pizza.

The bubbled and burnished thin pizza base had been spread lightly with a layer of creamy mashed potato; dotted with not-quite-enough nduja bits; and then sprinkled with Spanish onion and tallegio cheese.

With cheese melted all over the creamy mash, it was actually an ideal combination that didn't feel too heavy and which smoothed out the quite spicy hits of the nduja. That's a win for carb-on-carb.

Salt cod parmigiana with Italian slaw and potato salad
Less of a win but most alluring to my fellow diners was the salt cod parmigiana, served with sides of lightly dressed cabbage slivers of Italian slaw and creamy, dill-heavy (just the way I like it) potato salad which also come as sides with the daily rotisserie plate.

Looking every bit the classic parmigiana with a golden crumb, tomato sauce, melted cheese and diced parsley, the thick fillet of salt cod was, unsurprisingly, salty and a bit dry, and unfortunately not much more.

Lemon tart thickshake (left) and tiramisu knickerbocker glory (right)
It may have been a couple more bottles of the reasonably priced Italian Falesco Est! Est! Est! di Montefiascone white wine before we contemplated desserts. With just two options on the menu, the choice was easy - both.

The lemon tart thickshake was the one that intrigued me, and the lightly citrusy, airy and creamy, pastel yellow concoction did not disappoint, especially with its biscuit crumble garnish. The tiramisu knickerbocker glory was essentially a tiramisu in a tall glass, albeit a very well made one with a decent coffee hit in the sponge fingers.

As we departed the dining room through the still-packed front bar, it was clear that the cool pub vibe had been instilled almost immediately in the venue. And despite some menu misses, we would have to see The Forresters for the trees and hike back up that darned hill again for poppers, pizzas and lemon tart shakes.

The Forresters on Urbanspoon


Vivian - vxdollface said...

Ooh hehe quite interested in trying out the pay day pizza, it sounds pretty darn good (wonder if it's actually worth it lol). Is the lemon tart shake lemony sour or more on the sweet end?

JB said...

Ooohh! We were there last Sunday. Didn't order any of the dishes you did but the ribs look amazing!

joey@FoodiePop said...

Ever since I read about the stuffed fried peppers I wanted to come here. :-)

JasmyneTea said...

Looks like some better-than-average pub food... I love the look of those ribs!

Tina @ bitemeshowme said...

You ate this in a pub? Pretty fancy I'd say. Everything looks pretty good, particularly the ribs!

Lorraine @ Not Quite Nigella said...

I love the sound of the pay day pizza. I wonder if it lives up to its price tag? :)

Sara - Belly Rumbles said...

Not sure I would ever order the pay day pizza, but it certainly has my curiosity. I seriously want to try those poppers!

chocolatesuze said...

oh wow the ribs look amazing!

tania@mykitchenstories said...

Looks good. I love the potato pizza the best. This place has seen so many changes

Tina said...

Hi Vivian - The shake is on the sweeter side, but still quite delectable :) Not sure if I can drop $50 on ONE pizza!

Hi JB - Oooh, can't wait to see what you had!

Hi joey - Oh yeah, they're totally worth the hike up the hill!

Hi JasmyneTea - Yeah, quite a decent serving for the price, I thought.

Hi Tina - Yup, that's becoming the Surry Hills pub standard...

Hi Lorraine - I'd also have concerns about the freshness of the ingredients, cos seriously, how many would you sell in a week?

Hi Sara - Would love to try the Pay Day one, if someone else was paying ;)

Hi suze - Pretty good for the price :)

Hi Tania - It's been years since I was at the Forresters before this, but I imagine it's had a few changes since.

john@heneedsfood said...

Salt cod parmigiana? Now that's just a little too unconventional for me. It's definitely an interesting mix-up of food

Helen (Grab Your Fork) said...

Have been keen to check out the new Forresters. Liking the look of those beef ribs!

Rita (mademoiselle délicieuse) said...

Food aside, I'm encouraged by the fact that there are lots of interesting milk/thickshakes popping up seemingly everywhere!

Tina said...

Hi John - Yep, one case where good ol' chicken parmi would have won out...

Hi Helen - If I worked around there, I reckon I'd be alternating Forresters and Excelsior (and maybe a bit of KB's...)

Hi Rita - Isn't it great? I'm still dying to try a peanut butter one.


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