Sunday, October 21, 2007


127 4th Ave (12th and 13th Sts)

It was Forum’s menu that drew me in: creatively combined ingredients, imaginatively prepared, as far as I could tell. My first steps inside should have tipped me off as to the place’s true focus. Restaurants have many tables and a bar, whereas Forum has a tremendous bar and a few tables up front. But let’s be fair: Forum doesn’t claim to be a restaurant; rather, it’s a lounge with ambitious food. So let’s talk about that food.

Dishes at Forum aren’t grouped into appetizers and mains, and so all are on the small side and invite playing the field. One of our first courses was the snow pea gazpacho soup with sweet shrimp salad and truffle oil. Not a pretty color, and Forum’s chefs seem to have interpreted “gazpacho” to mean any cold soup with vegetables, rather than the tomato-based concoction we all know it to be. This one was on the cold side, but not a tomato in sight. The shrimp was an interesting touch, but some at our table found the shrimp dry and unimpressive. Next up were the bouchot mussels with curry mango (what’s a curry mango?) and saffron aioli. The mussels were tough—possibly overcooked—and some were difficult to pry from their shells. This and something of a fishiness led us to doubt their freshness.

The Forum pizza wins the prize for the oddest dish we ordered. Foie gras, truffle oil, and mozzarella cheese, it advertised, and I was wary of the combination from the start. Indeed, they make a strange and heavy pizza topping. To our frustration, there was no truffle flavor to speak of and the crust was burnt. If the folks in the kitchen could get their cooking time right, I imagine the Margherita and Pepperoni incarnations wouldn’t be half bad.

The number-one menu item that made me want to check Forum out was the Summer Tuna Rolls with mango, avocado, cucumber, wasabi, and ginger sweet chili sauce, and they disappointed only in their diminutive size. I could easily have eaten and enjoyed a main course-size serving. The flavors worked beautifully together and were enhanced by the sweet spiciness of the sauce. We had the peach tartlet for dessert and it was not memorable enough to merit more than this one sentence.

I believe that Forum suffers from an acute lack of appropriate punctuation. I think it could be said most accurately that Forum is Fo’ Rum (the Sunset, made with Bacardi, coconut rum, mango puree, pineapple juice, and a splash of grenadine, made for delightful sipping while we awaited our food), or, if you prefer, that Forum is For, um, drinking. Bring a small appetite, if any, and enjoy the drinks. I regret that my lightweight status only allowed me to try the one, but the cocktail menu runneth over with enticing offerings, and appears unlikely to disappoint.

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