Those that know me well, will know that two of my most favourite things in life are Tea and Smoked Salmon. So today, I am going to brag about salmon. But not just any old salmon; salmon smoked from Britain’s oldest fish smokery where smoked salmon – is serious business.
H. Forman & Son (Forman’s Fish Island) is East End’s last smoke house, founded by Harry Forman in Stepney in 1905 and run today by his great-grandson Lance Forman at Fish Island in Hackney Wick.
This weekend I hand my keys back to the landlord of my East London abode, minutes walk away from Hackney Wick and Fish Island (HWFI), what better way to say farewell to the area than celebrate with a meal featuring my favourite food.
On arrival to Forman’s Fish Island, we were invited to browse the Muhammad Ali Life Achievements Art Exhibition on the second floor and enjoy a drink on the adjoining roof terrace. Being a Friday lunch time, it wasn’t busy which was great as we didn’t feel pressured to get to our table. The views of the Olympic stadium from the roof terrace were fantastic, we couldn’t have asked for a better day as the sky was blue and the sun was shining.
The Great British Lunch Menu offered two options, three courses at £45 a head or two courses for £35, both included a glass of Chapel Down Fizz on arrival and Tea or Coffee and Marshmallows to finish. As three of us dining decided we wanted the best of both worlds, with two of us ordering starter and main and the third ordering main and dessert. Starters and desserts were both made up for 4-6 tasting platters.
The starters were made up of Scotch Quails Eggs with Salad Cream presented on a bed of artificial lawn, Prawn Cocktail and Spiced Tomato with Black Caviar presented in a cocktail glass. Forman’s Gin & Tonic Cured Salmon, Ham Hock Terrine and English Broad Beans, Poached Sea Trout, Smoked Beetroot with Horseradish and Honeyed Pear, Purple Artichokes, Spinach Salad.
Unfortunately we were all in agreement that the Pear, Artichoke and Spinach Salad lacked in flavour, without a piece of artichoke the pear and spinach alone were a little watery and I got nothing of the supposed ‘honeyed’ flavouring. That said, the Scotch Quails Egg and Gin & Tonic Cured Salmon were absolutely delicious. The scotch egg was warm and the yolk of the quails egg was runny. I’ve never heard of Gin & Tonic Cured Salmon before but what a fabulous combination it is! Usually I am one to shower my smoked salmon in fresh lemon and pepper but this needed nothing else, it was simply exquisite. If I could have eaten a whole plate of it, I would have! The presentation of the tasting platter was beautiful and there was something on the plate for each of us to lust over.
For main, diners were offered a choice between, Lake District Chicken wrapped in Air-Dried Ham & Sage, Pan Fried Cornish Dover Sole, with either Scallops & Parsley or Lemon & Capers or Truffle and Garden Pea Macaroni. All dishes were served with British vegetables; new potatoes, green beans and carrots. All three of us dining chose the Dover Sole with Scallops & Parsley so I’m not able to comment on the other dishes but I couldn’t say a bad word about our fishie dish of choice.
Firstly, there were no bones in sight. My step-mother was sceptical in choosing the Sole at first as she doesn’t like a plate of fish being put in front of her where the head is still present – so that was good news. The Scallops were pink and cooked in batter, the Parsley coated the fish perfectly and the cold, braised-topped lemon was an attractive and flavoursome addition to the dish. All three vegetables were cooked to perfection, the new potatoes were soft beneath the buttery skin, the carrots came with finely chopped chives and the green beans had a salty coating. All of us were glad we’d chosen it and thought it was absolutely delicious.
Dessert presented a tasting dish of Summer Berries, Crushed Meringues and Mint Cream, Bubbly poached Apricots with fudge sauce. Baileys Bread & Better Pudding with Cornish Clotted Cream and Pimm’s Trifle, Candied Orange. Here, I re-sited the tasting list from the on-line menu, so I’m not sure whether our platter differed – I would say so as there was no mint cream and the fudge sauce definitely tasted of dark chocolate.
The summer berries, crushed meringues and white chocolate with cream combination was my favourite. The berries were fresh and nicely complimented the white chocolate. I also enjoyed the bread and butter pudding but can’t say I picked up any flavouring of the Baileys. The poached apricot and warm chocolate sauce was delightful and I thought the Pimm’s Trifle with candied orange was a fantastic idea although maybe a little strong on the Pimm’s side for me. Overall a great combination of sweet dishes beautifully presented.
We had a great dining experience at Forman’s Fish Island, as the website states “Dining at Forman’s – more than just a meal”, we enjoyed a drink with unrivalled views of the Olympic stadium to start, a wonder around the Muhammad Ali exhibition with art, photography and memorabilia representing his inspirational life. Great table service from all the waitresses and waiters, refilling our glasses before they were empty and explaining what each tasting dish was when brought to our table.
Alongside the entrance of the restaurant a large glass window overlooks the Smokery were you can see the Salmon being prepared to perfection, cured and packaged. This was the perfect touch to our visit to Forman’s as for me it made the journey of Smoked Salmon come to life. Yes, I know I’m a little bit too in love with the fish but I can’t imagine anybody wouldn’t be impressed to see a snipt of the ‘day in the life’ of H. Forman & Son.
For over 100 years we’ve been smoking the freshest, best quality Scottish salmon to our famous London cure recipe in the heart of the East End.
ADDRESS – Stour Road, Fish Island, London, E3 2NT
OPENING TIMES – British Breakfast (Sat & Sun only) 8.30 – 10.30 am, Great British Lunch 11.30 am – 3.30 pm, Gourmet Dinner 4.00 pm – 12.00 midnight
TELEPHONE – +44 (0) 208 5252 390
WEBSITE – www.formansfishisland.com
TWITTER – @FormansFish
FACEBOOK – www.facebook.com/FormansFishIsland