If You Go ‘Up’ To The Woods Today… | Forest On The Roof, Selfridges & Co, 400 Oxford Street London W1A 1AB
I rarely visit Oxford Street, I find that the hoards of tourists and crazed shoppers frazzles my brain, sending it into a spin. But if weaving my way through the crowds means I get to visit Des McDonald‘s (former Caprice Holdings managing director) latest venture at Selfridges, then so be it.
The Forest restaurant and bar on the roof, which opened in October, looks set to follow on from the success of Des and head chef Chris Dargavel’s Vintage Salt residency during the summer. We missed this Cornish fishing village themed pop up, but managed to make it to one of the permanent restaurants on Liverpool Street.
Compared to the madness of Oxford Street, Selfridges is (almost) an oasis of calm and refinement. This feeling of peacefulness is taken to the next level (well five levels to be precise) when you take the express lift up to the roof. This lift is in the fragrance department, so you can give yourself a quick spitz of something exclusive and expensive before you head up (and be warned, it’s a little pricey when you get up there too.)
As the lift doors open, you are greeted by the sounds of bird song and the cooing of wood-pigeon. Obviously recordings of – you don’t have to worry if you suffer from Ornithophobia.
As I waited for my diner date (who had decided to come up via the themed stairway from the fourth floor), I had the chance to take in the beauty of the tree-lined passageway to the restaurant. The walls are lined with tree trunks weaved with a web of twinkling fairy lights. There are mossy tree stumps dotted around and country-inspired photos and knick-knacks, including deer antlers, hang from the walls.
The actual dining room is just as twinkly with more lighting lazily looping from the ceiling. The table setting is simple yet stylish but what else would you expect from one of the UK’s best department stores?
We skipped the wine list altogether and headed straight for the fab sounding autumnal cocktails, both cold and hot. We decided to leave the alcoholic hot chocolates till after dessert and ordered a drink that may as well as been developed just for me – the Smokey & Sour (£13) with whisky, rosemary, lemon juice and maple syrup – amazing.
My friend couldn’t decide between a Fancy Nogg (£12.50) with brandy, frangelico, milk, cream, honey, hazelnut and nutmeg or a Spicy Cane (£12.50) with spiced rum, pumpkin syrup, lime and soda. So the waiter threw another idea into the mix – a Flat white martini (£12.50), basically a smoother, creamier version of an espresso martini with Baileys and vodka – maybe he thought she was looking tired?
The menu is ‘inspired by the produce found in Britain’s woodlands’. There’s dish after dish of comfort food, involving plenty of ingredients you might forage for or shoot! Such as Windsor Estate mallard on toast with a mulled cider vinaigrette (£11.50) or Wild Highland Roe deer fillet, kale and elderberry sauce (£24.50).
I went vegetarian for my starter and maybe played safe with the mild baked Cornish brie, truffle honey and ancient loaf (£9.50). The molten cheese was held in shape (almost) by its rind and was the perfect partner for the sweet honey and the crunchy toast. My friend ordered the Josper grilled chicken salad with forest seed bulgar wheat (£10) – a generous serving of tender and flavoursome organic chicken with bulgar wheat salad sprinkled with pomegranate made for a lighter/healthier option, especially compared to my slab of melting cheese.
For main course we shared the Baked game meatballs served with winter vegetable orzo (£19.50) and a Duck shepherd’s pie with autumn squash (£19). The dense, rich meatballs were a tad on the dry side but complimented the moist duck and squash in meaty gravy so well, I instantly went right off the idea is sharing. What we did find a little weird was that the waiter didn’t ask us if we wanted to order any side dishes – as it happened we didn’t really need anything else, so luckily he knew best.
One I-don’t-want-it-to-end Hansel & Gretel cocktail (£12.50) later, it was time for dessert. We had eyed a few puddings on route to other tables during the course of the evening and they all looked amazing. Eventually we came to an agonising decision and ordered a Rose custard tart (£8) and a Chocolate forest (£8).
My chocolate forest looked stunning but after a few spoonfuls it more resembled some garden sweepings than an autumnal woodland. It taste amazing though, the smooth salted caramel and chocolate mouse had some competition with the crunch from the honeycomb chunks, crumbled wafer, blackcurrant sorbet and chocolate straws.
We finished off with a hot Cheeky Monkey Choctail (£12.50) a very sweet and naughty blend of banana and cinnamon liqueur, hot chocolate and whipped cream. . The only slight disappointment to the evening was the cabin bar. Situated at the back of the restaurant, past the open kitchen were the outdoor lodges. They were way too brightly lit and with their occupants all wrapped in blankets and smoking they looked more like bus shelters than cosy log cabins – an easily fixable problem though.
As we wandered out, back down the sparkly tree-lined corridor it felt like we were leaving a fairytale wonderland. Back through the wardrobe from Narnia to the real word, but it wasn’t a wardrobe that transported us back to reality it was the elevator, and that reality was back to the hustle and bustle of Oxford Street.
Selfridges & Co, 400 Oxford Street
London, W1A 1AB
Telephone: 020 7318 3287
(Enter via Express lift in Fragrance on the ground floor)
Book a table online
Opening hours: Monday – Saturday: 11:00 – 23:00
Sunday: 12:00 – 18:00
Nearest station: Bond Street (4 mins walk)
We ate as guests of Forest, this does not affect our review in any way. We always write with complete honesty.